A couple weeks back I had my Instagram friends vote on the neighborhood we should explore next -- Russian Hill to see Lombard Street or the Western Addition to see the Painted Ladies... and Russian Hill won out by a whopping 30%! So since I had considerably less information on this area, compared to the other places we have visited so far, I opened my laptop and set out on a recon mission.
What did I find? Only 1,000 people on various websites with every piece of information I needed to make our day in this new area a memorable one (gotta love the internet). I jotted down restaurant names, cable car routes and some 'insider tips.' Plugged our spots into Google Maps to find our most efficient route (because I was feeling especially thorough), and we were ready to go!
Russian Hill is on the other side of the city - inland from Fisherman's Wharf. Only 5.3 miles away, but it was going to take an HOUR to get there by public transportation - 60 minutes to go 5 miles! Nah. We love the environment and all, but I played the baby card and hopped in Patty's car instead. It's a Prius so I'm pretty sure we get some Mother-Earth-Points back, right?
First stop -- Blue Barn. We actually selected this cute restaurant from the great Yelp reviews, before I realized that my friend and former co-worker Cindy had recommended their Marina location. She had told me that this was the spot to go for some of the BEST salads -- salads that you crave when you are away from the city. Well, she was absolutely right. We split the Winter Salad - complete with brussel sprouts, butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese (YUM). And because one salad just wouldn't cut it, we shared the Ragin' Cajun sandwich (lots of meat, smoked Gouda and Cajun aioli on a ciabatta roll). How could you go wrong?
Bellies full and ready to play 'tourist,' we walked a couple blocks and hopped on one of San Francisco's famous red cable cars. A hefty $6 fare for a fairly short ride, but it was totally worth it to experience The City's most iconic modes of transportation.
During my intensive planning for this outing, I learned that Lombard Street (our next stop for the day) could only be traversed by car or by foot (over the course of at least 100+ stairs), so I ditched the stroller and strapped little Ava into my Ergobaby carrier. It made our day walking up and down and all over Russian Hill A LOT easier (aside from the fact that I had an extra 15 pounds of adorableness to lug around). I wasn't complaining though.. look at that sweet face!
We walked down Lombard Street (falsely believed by many to be the most crooked street in the city), and loved looking at the beautiful hydrangeas filling the garden beds, red brick pavers on the road, and gorgeous homes everywhere you looked.
Once at the bottom, we made our way to Macondray Lane -- a magical street of homes surrounded by lush greenery and split down the middle, not by a road, but by a winding stone path. Every now and then we would get a break between the west-facing homes and catch the most breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean and Alcatraz.
We ended our day the way we end most of our days exploring a new neighborhood -- by getting a couple scoops of ice cream from a famed ice cream shop. In Russian Hill, it's Swensen's. Open since 1948, this neighborhood gem features both classic and funky flavors, checkered linoleum tile and everything else you would hope for in an old-school ice cream parlor that has held on to it's 1940's charm.
Steep hills everywhere we turned, cable cars running up and down the street, and old school businesses, perfectly preserved in time. Russian Hill felt like classic San Francisco and we enjoyed every minute of our day spent in this wonderful part of town.