San Francisco is many different things to many different people. And some of those people have been there for a long time, baking bread since the late 19th century, opening clubs in Depression era 1930’s, erm, fighting battles and such. As I had a whirlwind 48 hours to spend in San Francisco, I knew I would only be scratching the surface of what the city has to offer. However, this took me on an adventure trail through a history alive with tradition, ambition and excellent sea foam.

Here are 5 historical-ish things to do in San Francisco:

5 Things To Do in San Francisco - Elizabeth Rushe 5 Things To Do in San Francisco - Elizabeth Rushe

1. Farmers Market at the Ferry Plaza

Whether or not you’re actually taking the ferry, the farmer’s market at the ferry plaza will ensure that you stop by to sample delicious local fare and delightful wares. Save some room in your belly because you’ll be picking up quite a few treats, from farm fresh produce (including the most amazing mushroom stall) to empañadas, find a souvenir at the well-known mid-century pottery Heath Ceramics, pick up local California olive oils, or get a boost from a healthy Pressed Juice. The unmistakable colourful and historic San Francisco trolley cars also stop at the Ferry Plaza, another reason not to miss out on visiting.

5 Things To Do in San Francisco - Elizabeth Rushe 5 Things To Do in San Francisco - Elizabeth Rushe

2. Sourdough clam chowder

So this is a thing in San Francisco. One must go for a clam chowder which is served to one in a bread bowl. Bonus points if it’s a windy ol’ day as this is the best comfort food ever. We chose Boudin as our spot for bread-bowl heaven, a French bakery that dates back to 1849. The story goes that the Boudin family recipe continues on in the kitchen to this day, and each sourdough loaf begins with a portion of the original mother dough. It certainly tastes great, and you probably won’t be able to finish it

5 Things To Do in San Francisco - Elizabeth Rushe

3. Bimbo’s

For your evening entertainment, head to Bimbo’s 365 Club. This is where Rita Hayworth got her start back in the day as a chorus girl, these days you can catch acts like Seu Jorge or Ariel Pink in a wondrous cabaret atmosphere with table service and sumptuous art deco surroundings. The story behind Bimbo’s is the classic American dream: Agostino Giuntoli, an Italian boy in his late teens sails to America and works his way up from janitor to opening his own club. The nickname Bimbo came about due to Agostino’s possibly difficult to pronounce name – bimbo is the Italian word for ‘boy’. So, Bimbo’s 365 was born in 1931. We were incredibly excited to learn that Chrysta Bell was performing while we were in San Francisco, she is a great performer and the connection to David Lynch was too much resist. We had the fries and a burger which were a little disappointing – go for the atmosphere, not the grub.

5 Things To Do in San Francisco - Elizabeth Rushe

4. The International Sports Club

We had arrived at Bimbo’s too early and it wasn’t open yet, so we had a bit of time to while away. There’s an unassuming (dive) bar across the street, names The International Sports Club. It appeared to have been adopted by local hipsters, no doubt down to the decently priced drinks, excellent selection in the juke box and classic pool table.

5 Things To Do in San Francisco - Elizabeth Rushe 5 Things To Do in San Francisco - Elizabeth Rushe

5. Cavallo Point Lodge, Sausalito

Cavallo Point is the kind of heavenly place you’ll remember and look back at for years to come after you’ve stayed there. Though now a luxury resort, delightfully referred to as ‘the lodge’, Cavallo Point was initially an active military base during World War II known as Fort Baker, and became part of the Golden Gate Parks in the early 70’s. You can find Cavallo Point nestling cosily on the North side of the Golden Gate Bridge, and with great views from wherever you’re standing. You’ll leave feeling like you’ve been at summer camp for grown-ups, except that you were spoiled rotten and there were definitely no bunk beds.

5 Things To Do in San Francisco - Elizabeth Rushe 5 Things To Do in San Francisco - Elizabeth Rushe

Cavallo Point offers both ‘historic’ and ‘contemporary’ lodging, with the possibility to book houses and apartments that make up the 24 buildings which date back to the early 1900s. I arrived at my Deluxe King Suite, opening the door to my own personal haven with a balcony, a huge heavenly bed and lots of welcoming snacks from local artisan producers and relaxing remedies – I’m already dreading my departure.

A highlight of the Cavallo Point experience is the Murray Circle Restaurant where the menu focuses on regional and seasonal produce, with an emphasis on farm to table. I won’t forget my main course, there was freshly caught fish and a bowl of zingy asparagus soup served refreshingly cold. I was introduced to new flavours and textures reflecting North Californian cuisine, while sitting by the fire and hypnotised by the grand views of the Golden Gate bridge just outside the window.

When you think you can’t take much more, put on your fluffy robe and saunter over to the spa to take a dip in the pool and really let your cares float away. Stop by the fire pit on the way back to your room and soak up another few moments of relaxation.

Cavallo Point is easily reachable by ferry, just 1 mile from the ferry port in Sausalito – you can arrange to be promptly collected by the hotel’s shuttle service free of charge.

5 Things To Do in San Francisco - Elizabeth Rushe 5 Things To Do in San Francisco - Elizabeth Rushe

Warning: don’t lose your ferry ticket! There was a ticket inspector checking tickets as everybody was getting off the ferry at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza. I had absent-mindedly lost my ticket and had to buy a new one in order to leave. The inspector felt a little sorry for me and only charged me for a ‘youth’ ticket, which was a few bucks cheaper. It’s too easy to lose a little scrap of paper, but you’ll be glad, keep that ticket in a safe place!

5 Things To Do in San Francisco - Elizabeth Rushe

San Francisco has a lot more to it of course, I didn’t even have a burrito! I hope one day to be back with more than a couple of days to blitz around the city. Because burritos.


This is a guest post by Elizabeth Rushe, who is a regular guest contributor for Travelettes. Currently she’s training in organic horticulture in the wild North West of Ireland after an 8 year stint in Berlin. Follow her instagrams here and check out more of her photography here.

* Cavallo Point kindly offered a complementary stay for the purpose of this article. All opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.