Romantic San Francisco
It's no coincidence that the reigning royal of romance, writer Danielle Steele, gets her inspiration from this sumptuous city, churning out novel after naughty novel from her Pacific Heights Victorian home. San Francisco was made for love - and it's astonishingly easy to find amorous inspiration everywhere.
Sleep in this morning, it's going to be a late night. Dress casual and comfortable for your leisurely late morning meander through one of the city's neighborhoods, to do like the locals do on Sunday mornings: sip lattes and nibble croissants (or indulge on omelets and some serious French toast), read the paper and watch the neighborhood go by.
Each neighborhood has a different personality, so pick one that suits your mood. The casually inclined can head for the Valleys - the centrally located Hayes Valley, a close-to-downtown locale with cafes and shops galore, or Cole Valley, stylishly understated and quietly nestled against the eastern tip of Golden Gate Park. Meanwhile, Union and Polk Streets in the Marina and Russian Hill make for great urbanite ogling and some of the best window-shopping in the City. Noe Valley's 24th Street is a tranquil spot for a slightly suburban stroll and snack. Just up the road in the Castro, this vibrantly liberal community offers up every type of eatery along with spunky street life and shopping possibilities to the extreme.
When you are ready for your next stop on the itinerary, slip into one of those charming neighborhood bakeries and grab a baguette and pick up some cheese from the local deli. The Inner Sunset near the University of California San Francisco also offers cozy cafes and bakeries for nibbles to go. Then take a cab or bus (or walk, if you’re inclined) to Golden Gate Park's Conservatory of Flowers. What better place than a flower sanctuary to nurture a budding - or fully flowered - romance? Your light lunch can be enjoyed outside as you fix your eyes on the dahlias - a garden dedicated to celebrating San Francisco's official flower. Wander through the Conservatory, which underwent a $25 million renovation. The replenished 19th century Victorian greenhouse belle is home to 1,500 flowering species garnered from around the globe and a fantasy-inspired aquatic garden, complete with elegant waterfalls, circular pools and a glass bridge.
After you've tiptoed past the tulips, it's time for those sore muscles to get some love. Any one of the many day spas throughout the city offer relaxation sanctuaries to revive, but those going for the gold (quite literally - there are 24 carat gold mosaic ribbons decorating the curved staircase at this heavenly haven) head for the hills at the Huntington Hotel's Nob Hill Spa. Get your rub down as you gaze downtown through 18-foot high windows in this 11,000 square foot feng-shui designed day spa. Then take a dip in the indoor pool, soak in the bubbling Jacuzzi or lounge in the eucalyptus steam room.
Once you are rejuvenated, it's back to the hotel for a shower and change of clothes - perhaps you can slip into that little number you picked up out in the neighborhoods this morning. Your front desk or concierge already put in a call for dinner reservations. Remember this is food city, and tonight's meal promises to be one of the best you've ever had! Take your pick from some top-tiered favorites:
A great selection of restaurants:
- Acquerello The intimate dining room is graced with arches from the former chapel and a vaulted ceiling.
- Bushi-tei The stunning “past meets future” décor is constructed from old wood from Japan dating back to 1863; the menu features chef Seiji Wakabayashi’s classical training in French cuisine with his Japanese heritage
- Fifth Floor A deep appreciation for French culinary traditions is complemented by a list of 1,500 wines from France and California. The Fifth Tasting offers a culinary journey through the menu.
- Jardiniere The award-winning cuisine of chef Traci des Jardins has kept this spot at the top of the culinary charts for more than a decade.
- Maharani Request the Fantasy Room and you’ll be all set for your magic carpet ride through one of the most honored Indian restaurants in the U.S. and a closer reading of owner J. Kapur’s poetry.
- Opaque – Dining in the Dark invites diners to enhance their senses and “see” what is beyond. This culinary adventure unfolds in a pitch-black dining room with all meals served by blind waiters.