5 Senses of San Francisco


As I’m putting my Destinations page together, it’s fun to go through my posts and see the places I love the most. What really surprises me is that one of my most favorite places has only one blog post about it from me. Luckily Allie stopped by for a guest post on things to do in the Spring, otherwise I would be REALLY underselling one of my favorite cities. So I’m here today to attempt to explain why I love San Francisco. I visited San Francisco in July of 2013 back when Paul graduated from college and I was stuck being a fifth year senior. It was one of the tougher mental points in my life and this was the first trip I took that made me realize travel is a fabulous way to get through those tough times. I insist to this day, even though the trip was almost three years ago, that San Francisco just had a certain feel to it. I love this feeling so much that just being in the airport for a layover (pre cross country road trip) was enough to make me happy, I kid you not. So I thought it would be fun to take you through my five senses of San Francisco.

The Five Senses of San Francisco

Hear San Francisco

I’m starting with sound only so you can take this opportunity to put Save Me, San Francisco by Train on in the background while you read this post. This song (singlehandedly?) got me through my senior year of college. Plus everybody loves a little Train in their lives, so go ahead. I’ll put the video in here for ya.

Go on and sing the Full House theme song while you’re at it, because the Painted Ladies are right here in San Francisco. I can’t speak for Fuller House, but if you’re anywhere close to my age you grew up with Full House. And your boyfriend should NOT be embarrassed when you start singing in front of them.

See San Francisco

There are SO. MANY. THINGS. to see in San Francisco. We never ran out of things to see or do. If you want to be a tourist and go sightseeing, you can definitely do so in San Francisco! Check out some of our favorite sights through our photos.

I’ll be honest with you, Fisherman’s Wharf gave me such intense anxiety that I barely spent any time there. Just too many people, and too many obnoxious people at that. If you’re dying to go just be prepared to get pushed a bit. If you’re like me: get in, take a picture of the sign, MAYBE see the sea lions, and then move right on to my first Taste San Francisco option.

Taste San Francisco

There are so many fabulous tastes in this city that this section will not even begin to cover it. But I do have three standouts in my mind. And touristy or not, they were quite delicious.

In-N-Out Burger - Obviously. Especially if your West Coast trips have been minimal, you’ve got to try it. You just have to, I don’t care. We got ours at the location down in Fisherman’s Wharf and then munched on the deliciousness outside. I highly recommend it this way.

Mama’s On Washington - The travel blogs I read before we left warned me that this would be a wait. As it turns out, we waited a whopping two and a half hours for brunch. And yes, you’ve got to stay in line. But the crab Benedict was oh, so worth it (once). I highly recommend bringing a granola bar and going to grab a cup of coffee before you hop in line here. Or send somebody to do it for you. And don’t forget the sunscreen!

Taqueria Pancho Villa - This food stop brought us down to The Mission, which I wish we had more time to check out. I’ve since heard there are a huge number of food spots that I’d like to try. But Taqueria Pancho Villa was a good option. The burritos were delicious, but the salsa bar was something that really stood out. So many salsas, so little time. It definitely gives you a food baby, though. So be warned!

New Asia Chinese Restaurant - My obsession for dim sum began in San Francisco’s Chinatown. And this place is what did it. Get ready to be overwhelmed, okay? Paul and I were the only tourists in this giant place and we had NO IDEA what we were ordering the entire time. It’s classic cart style where you just point to what you want on the cart. We ended up eating quite a bit and began to worry about the check adding up. But it didn’t! We stopped eating so our bill wouldn’t be giant and, as it turns out, it wasn’t even at about 7 dim sum dishes. Super cheap and delicious.

Feel San Francisco

Sand between your toes? Check. Paul and I caught the bus out to Ocean Beach and just sat mesmerized at how beautiful the beach and the Pacific are. As Jersey shore visitors, this beach wiped the floor with the East Coast. We went out at sunset with the intent to build a fire in a fire ring and roast s’mores. Alas, we went on a clean air day so there was no fire. But we did stop at a grocery store (the bus drops you off there!) for a dessert to split as we watched the sun drop beneath the horizon. And boy, did we wish for a fire at that point. People, sunsets in July in San Francisco are COLD. Be warned!

Wind in your hair? Or is it fog? Either way, check. What a great feeling too! I mentioned our biking adventure from Tiburon back into the city on the blog before, but the ferry was one way to really enjoy San Francisco. You can get great shots of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as the San Francisco skyline. Well worth the ferry fare. Just maybe put your hair up in a topknot.

Smell San Francisco

Now, the smell of San Francisco is something I wanted to save for last. I can’t quite explain it, but it is always the first thing out of my mouth when people ask me why I love San Francisco. I don’t think it is just because I’m coming from a fairly dirty city, but San Francisco just smells so fresh and clean. It was noticeable as soon as I got into the fresh air. It’s like freshness assaulted my nostrils. I can’t explain it! It was such a stark contrast that the smell is one of the things that I will always carry with me, even three years after the fact.

Hopefully that gives you a bit more insight as to why I love this city. I could go on about it for hours, but I’ll stop right here. The five senses format was actually really fun for me! Maybe I’ll go back to some of the cities I’ve visited before and take you on a tour of them through my senses.

Let’s Chat!

  • Have you been to San Francisco? Please tell me I’m not crazy about the smell.
  • What city affected your senses in a way you’ll always remember? I’d love to hear about it down in the comments.