This summer I went on a trip to San Francisco for work. It was for a very short meeting but had to happen in person. So, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and make a “Layover Vacation” out of the day!

I got very excited and put together a map of all the iconic San Francisco things to do:
San Francisco Map
There were over 20 tourist spots on my map and I was going to see them all in my 6 hours there!! No problem, right? Well …

That morning, I landed on the Oakland side of the Bay. I took the BART from the Oakland Airport (beautiful artwork at the station!) and headed up, past the Oakland Alameda Coliseum, to the Berkeley area.

After my meeting, I walked thru the neighborhood and headed over to Bette’s Oceanview Diner for brunch. Beautiful art and buildings lined the streets. There was a crowd at the diner, as I was told to expect, but I soon got a stool at the counter (yay, for traveling solo!) and enjoyed my French Herb and Cheese Omelet with Cinnamon Roll Muffin!

At this point, I realized how quickly time was slipping away and started to get a little overwhelmed. I had a plane to catch and still so many sights left to see. How was I going to see everything on my list?!

Well, I wasn’t.

So, I took a deep breath and took a hard look at my checklist of tourist places. In the end, I decided I wanted to see the Ferry Building and Clarion Alley. They were both new to me, and they were along my route to the San Francisco airport.

But first, since I was so close,  I had to at least walk on the University of California, Berkeley campus, however briefly I was there!  The campus was closest, so I took an Uber over and explored a bit of the area – only a fraction of the campus I realize, but I can say I was there (“Why, yes, I went to Berkeley!”) and saw a touch of what inspired my uncle so much when he was a grad & Ph.D. student there.

Then I took the BART across the Bay to the Embarcadero Station. Outside of the station was the SF ART Market, with many vendors lining the sidewalk. There were some beautiful statues along the Justin Herman Plaza in front of the Ferry Building, and the Vaillancourt Fountain (although, there was no water running thru it when I was there).

The Ferry Building Marketplace is one of the most famous landmarks in San Francisco and is a gathering for independent food businesses, local farmers, and artisans.

While standing in line at Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who was standing in line while his family shopped. We made small talk, nothing major – mostly connected to his being the only man in a family of three women and my Dad was one in a family of four women. When we got to the front of the line, he bought my ice cream, along with his family’s order! I certainly wasn’t expecting it and found it a very pleasant reward for leaning outside my comfort zone a bit by making small talk with a stranger.

Clarion Alley is an alleyway lined on both sides with various murals from local street artists. I had heard about it after Prince’s death earlier this year when they added a mural of him, and that was my main objective in going there.

After visiting Clarion Alley, I was ready for a late lunch before leaving town. Although I was in more of a Hispanic neighborhood, I had decided earlier in the day I wanted sushi so went searching for that. I found it at We Be Sushi. It was a very cute restaurant. I sat at a front table near the window, to watch the neighborhood as I ate. The food was excellent and the server was very sweet.

As I headed to the airport, I thought about how although I had only visited a fraction of the items on my map, by taking a more relaxed approach to my visit, I was able to concentrate more on the places I did see and actually experience them. And, I enjoyed it so much more!

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A reminder, all links are for your convenience only, I am not an affiliate of any company and do not make money off recommending them. I just want to make it easy for you to find them if you’re interested!

About Cynthia Graner

I’m always looking to travel, but don’t always have a lot of time or money, so started exploring ways to take more trips for 2 Days & (mostly) under $200 at a time!

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