San Francisco may be the ultimate Trail to Tavern® city. With sprawling public parks and wild seashores, exploring this peninsula is both rigorous and rewarding. Notorious hills offer stunning views of the greater Bay Area and a bustling beer culture gives you good reason to raise a glass. This three-day trail to tavern itinerary is a sample of San Francisco’s best brew spots and most impressive experiences. Stick to our suggestions or cut your own path - you really can’t go wrong in the City by the Bay.
The Clift Hotel is close to Union Square and has an artsy vibe. Thomas Hawk
Union Square is one of the most popular areas of San Francisco so it makes a great homebase for your weekend. Kick off the first morning with a crepe and coffee at Honey Honey Cafe & Crepery
on the corner of Post and Taylor Streets. Obviously the crepes are the bee’s knees, but the omelettes, French toast, and Belgian waffles aren’t too shabby either.
Another option is to dive right in at HOGWASH Swine and Swill
on Sutter Street. Snack on their signature fried pickles or Indian-inspired curry fries while you mull over the eclectic beer menu. They’ve got 30 beers on tap, including a solid collection of West Coast IPA’s and beers from around the world. No judgement if you go here for breakfast (you’re on holiday, remember?)
From HOGWASH, embark on a roughly one-mile urban trek through the heart of San Francisco. Head east on Sutter Street and turn left on Grant Avenue into Chinatown, a must-see feast for the senses. (Don’t forget to grab a photo under Dragon’s Gate as you walk in!) Spend some time picking up souvenirs and sampling traditional teas and pastries as you navigate the packed sidewalks. If you need a destination, Good Mong Kok bakery has excellent Dim Sum at an excellent price. You can fill up on pork buns and wontons for less than $2.
Rogue Ales Public House has a wide selection of craft beers from Rogue ales and lagers to other independent breweries. Alberto Cruz
At the intersection of Broadway and Columbus, you’ll move into the iconic North Beach neighborhood with its line-up of Italian restaurants, cozy coffee shops, and lively bars. Your next stop is Rogue Ales Public House
, with an outdoor patio and more than 40 taps serving their own "Rogue Nation" beers and other brews. Sample six beers and get a half-growler to-go of your favorite beer. You’ll want it when you catch the sunset later.
After getting your fill at Rogue, get ready to work it off. One of the most exhilarating spots in all of SF, Coit Tower
is the city’s 210-ft, art deco pillar sitting atop Telegraph Hill. It’s only about half a mile from Rogue (following Filbert St. from Washington Park), but the last part is straight uphill. Like we said, you’re gonna earn this view. But the views can’t be beat and the 27 frescos displayed in the tower’s ground floor offer a beautiful look at life in San Francisco during the 1920s and 30s. Art with a view? We’ll take it.
Where to Stay
Get settled into the glamorous Clift Hotel
, conveniently located two blocks from Union Square. Even though most of your time will be spent exploring the city’s streetscapes and landscapes, you’ll appreciate the Clift’s artsy, upbeat vibe. There’s a quirky bar if you’re up for a nightcap and end-of-day people watching.
The Muir Beach Loop Trail is a solid workout with amazing views on clear days, including the San Francisco and part of the Golden Gate Bridge. David Abercrombie
As tempting as it might be to stay in the city the whole weekend, you don’t want to miss crossing the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin. Home to Muir Woods’ towering redwoods and the region’s highest peak (Mt. Tamalpais, "Mount Tam" to the locals), Marin is a magical corner of Northern California just half an hour from downtown SF. It could very well be heaven on earth for hikers, with miles of trails crisscrossing the rugged landscape and dipping into verdant, eucalyptus-scented valleys.
The 4.3-mile Muir Beach Loop Trail
—comprised of Green Gulch Trail, Coyote Ridge Trail, and the Coastal Fire Road and Trail—packs a lot in the span of just a few hours. This moderately strenuous hike has phenomenal views, a small beach nestled in a hidden cove, and a tavern straight from the English countryside. You’ll start near the Muir Beach parking lot and walk through an organic garden. After the garden, conquer a steep climb through low brush and be rewarded with a heart-stopping panorama of the Golden Gate Recreation Area, the San Francisco skyline, and dramatic coastal cliffs. Get those cameras out! With the ocean at your side, the trail eventually leads down to Muir Beach and back to the parking lot. The trail is also open to mountain biking if you prefer your exercise on two wheels.
The perfect end to a perfect hike can be found just steps from Muir Beach at the charming Pelican Inn
, a 16th-century-inspired English tavern. Overnight guests and visitors can indulge in traditional pub fare like bangers and mash and Yorkshire pudding, as well as a changing menu of fine ales, draught beers, stouts, and pilsners. On a warm day, you can order a pint from the bar and take it out to the Inn’s sprawling lawn or back patio.
Back in San Francisco, spend the rest of your day in the vibrant Mission neighborhood, which balances its strong Latino roots and artsy vibe with San Francisco’s tech elite. Make your way to the famous Mission Dolores Park
, covering almost 16 acres. It’s a great place to spread out a blanket and take a nap, toss a frisbee, or join a pickup game of basketball or soccer. There are tons of festivals and cultural celebrations at the park, so you might stumble upon a truly unique experience. You may also stumble upon a pack of nude sunbathers. This is San Francisco, after all.
Do not leave Monk’s Kettle without trying the macaroni and cheese. Daniel Hartwig
You’ve worked up an appetite so head over to the Mission’s Monk’s Kettle
, a gastropub with 200 rotating beers and friendly staff. Try their daily "off the menu" dish—a sandwich or entrée that is made using whatever local ingredients they have in abundance that day. The mac ‘n cheese with lobster and jalapeños is the stuff legends are made of.
Lands End is a great place for a hike near the city. Adam Fagen
For your final day, you’ll experience a whole other side of San Francisco: Lands End
. Located in the northwest corner, crowded avenues give way to broad stretches of sand and magnificent bluffs. It’s raw, craggy nature at it’s finest and one of the most beautiful places in the city.
Fuel up with classic breakfast fare at the 50s-themed Lori’s Diner
then drive or take SF Muni’s
38 Geary bus to the ocean. You’ll get off at Point Lobos and 48th, leaving you with just a short walk to the Lands End Lookout Visitor Center (and parking lot, if you decide to drive). From here you’ll access wind-swept coastal trails with postcard views of the Golden Gate Bridge and maybe even a shipwreck or two.
To truly see what this spot has to offer, take the four-mile out-and-back Lands End Trail, starting with a walk down to the Sutro Baths ruins. This saltwater pool was built in 1896 as the world’s largest indoor swimming complex. It burned down it the 60s and all that’s left is the ruins you see today. Continue on the trail along the rugged cliffs and after about a mile, you’ll come to a spur trail leading to Mile Rock Beach and the off-the-beaten-path stone labyrinth. Return to Lookout Point from here or go another mile to scenic Eagle’s Point before turning back.
For a longer hike, continue on the California Coastal Trail, a 9.1-mile round trip trek from Lands End to the Golden Gate Bridge and back. You’ll pass many beaches along the way if you want to take a break. It’s surprisingly less crowded than some of the other trails in the area so really take your time and soak it all in. If you’re feeling super intrepid, tack on a couple more miles by jumping on the Batteries-to-Bluffs Loop
at the Presidio (part of the loop overlaps with the Coastal Trail).
After hiking for hours, kick back at the bustling Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant
, less than half a mile from the Lookout Center. Across the street from Ocean Beach, this joint offers prime sunset viewing (assuming the fog hasn’t rolled in), solid American fare, and a nice selection of locally handcrafted ales. Start with the sample set of eight house made brews or try their flagship blonde V.F.W. Golden Ale.
On your way back to Union Square, swing by Social Kitchen & Brewery
for a killer happy hour. You’ll find a wide variety of both traditional craft brews (think Belgian-style pale ales and imperial stouts) to more unique flavors like the wine grape saison and Belgian Brett Triple with jasmine rice. The spot looks contemporary on the outside, but with high ceilings and exposed beams on the inside, you get a spacious yet cozy feel.
After dinner, mosey on back to your hotel with an urban hike through the iconic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. The birthplace of the "Summer of Love," the Haight is known for it’s surreal murals and lively locals. Pop into any bar that catches your eye as you continue back to Union Square and end your trail to tavern weekend in San Francisco. Whether you leave your heart here or not, you’ll be back before you know it.
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Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.
Featured image provided by Photo courtesy of Social Kitchen & Brewery