Get a way by heading north. San Fran has so many great hidden secrets to help you forget life in So. Cal. At least for three days.
by Adria Hagg
Three girls, three days and three different bank accounts—San Francisco is a dream destination for a gal pal retreat if planned accordingly. Grab your old college allies and head north because whether you’re a big spender, party girl or thrifty flower child, the City by the Bay offers affordable spas, unique watering holes and secret shopping steals.
One way to appease your best friends and their pocket books is to stay at less expensive boutique hotels, splurge on a dinner or massage–or vice versa. Take your new found knowledge and mix and match, there’s no reason not to live it up at Hotel Vitale but save it up at Cafe Macaroni; girlfriends should worry about what to wear instead of what to spend.
Day 1: Fridays Lap of Luxury
Yes, we all know her or secretly wake ourselves with a Brittany Spears attitude–heading out the door with our “Platinum” clenched tightly in our fists to charge the next gluttonous dose of spa therapy or retail binge. If the Dior people know you on a first name basis, your hair has never seen anything other than the likes of Kiehl’s, and your feet know nothing but the height of a Jimmy Choo then this is for you:
Hotel Vitale: Steps away from the bustling markets and shops of the Ferry Building, Vitale offers a hip contemporary vibe, a hot happy hour with young financial district preps and side by side massages, so you can take in bridge views with your partners in crime. Cleanse the mind and body in rooftop baths, nibble on cheeses from the Cowgirl Creamery in the Ferry Building and take in the San Francisco skyline; even the thrifty will leave their heart and budget.
Rose’s Cafe: Truly a neighborhood haunt; check out Pac Heights high society as they meander through the door in Juicy Jumpsuits and the latest Versace shades. Sip tea outside while nibbling on the daily special pizza or homemade coffee cake. Spare a dime and share the pizza.
Heidi Says: Walk off the pizza and climb San Francisco’s famous verticals up Fillmore for a treat of clothing boutiques, skin potions and olive oils. First stop, Heidi Says, where this California girl, blonde locks and all, gives you the low down on the latest Jackie O inspired duds.
Nest: For the interior designer in all of us, this rustic French array of bobbles and decor offers unexpected deals like a perfect wedding gift of charming cafe au lait cups for around $60. Check prices and splurge on those $53 bath towels if you never want your house guests to leave.
Sushi Groove South: A ride across Market to SOMA may seem anything but luxurious but come to an unmarked wooden door on a shady side of Fulton and 11th to find the bold and the beautiful. Feast on Warm Prawn Salad and sip the best sake cocktails this side of the Golden Gate while the D.J. spins to an eclectic crowd of models and local playboys.
Day 2: Saturday Party Hardy
A martini in one hand, a cigarette in the other. The bartender always pours a little bit more Grey Goose for her. Welcome to the party! San Francisco is no exception to the rule of fun–let loose and get it started because this foggy fortress will make you forget that heartbreaker back home.
International Orange: Prepare your body for what’s to come because San Francisco nightlife takes no prisoners. The Jolie, a balancing blend of Rose, Bergamot and Chamomile along with the hot rock massage will rejuvenate and restore because we all could use a little help from our friends. With four treatments, you save 10%.
Chez Papa: This Protrero hideaway is a cab ride across town but well worth the sunny skies, juicy mimosas and hot French Fries with nothing other than their special mayonnaise aioli–Tres Bien!
Blue Jean Bar: Squeeze into a pair of Joe’s Jeans or try to decide what color crown on the Beckham Rock and Republics–nothing can prepare you for a night out better than the perfect pair of denim. You’re guaranteed to find a pair you can’t live without here. Saunter up to the bar and order a jean cocktail–the only hang over may be in your pocket book.
Mingle: A few doors from the pricier Blue Jean Bar, local designers fill this Union Street new-bee with one of a kind frocks at not so local prices. Grab that modern 80s tee you never thought you’d see again. You just might make yourself, and them, famous.
Frascati: Nestled on the Hyde Street Cable Car line, few living in Russian Hill have not heard of this local gem. Feast on bread salad and Gnocchi and order a bottle of vino or two from their reasonably priced list. The wait staff is more than happy to give advice on everything from the food to your next travel excursion.
U Street Bar/Restaurant: Owners Scott Loose and John Kelley may turn heads, but so does this hopping venue where everyone seems to know your name and bartender Amil, a former Army Ranger, just might share a story or two while shaking his famous margarita.
Day 3: Sundays Cheap Date
After blowing the dust off the old Amex, she’s hard to beat when it comes to finding the early bird specials or that chic vintage lace top at the local second hand store. We’ve all got a few Old Navy tanks in the closet and sometimes double check the bill for mistakes–who says indulgence costs an arm and a leg?
Hotel Del Sol: Standing out like a sore thumb in the trendy marina district; vibrant colors, white Christmas lights and palm trees adorn this iconic California hideaway. Hotel Del Sol is an artsy alternative to the Fairmont or Super 8. Rooms are as colorful inside, each a sweet unique twist on the California lifestyle–both the neighborhood and prices can’t be beat.
The Pork Store: Biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs and of course, bacon, make this Haight Street classic a must see on a Sunday morning. Excuse the grease and small quarters for grub that only mama could dish out. Too busy? Try All You Knead across the street for no lines and cheap eats.
Wasteland: Dig through vintage coats, tees and Levi’s and find the true meaning of California Dreamin’. While not everyone is accustomed to such fashion hunting, Wasteland is wisely organized and it’s hard to leave without that original 80’s Def Leppard ringer tee. If you’re not into the second hand experience, check out Villains Vault and Behind the Post Office–Haight is a great shopping secret with numerous designer boutiques. We’re not sure if Janis Joplin would have approved but we do!
GoodByes: Consignment clothing in a posh neighborhood, “desperate housewives” unload their mint condition designer goods while locals happily scoop them up. Hit or miss–if you hit, you hit the jackpot like a recent find of Todd’s leather driving shoes for $70. Good luck!
The Mindful Body: Who would have thought heaven could cost $58? Deep tissue or Swedish, whatever your thrill, The Mindful Body offers the best massage deal in town. For those who crave a little activity, check out one of their many yoga classes and top it off with an affordable massage. Afterward, saunter over in your Zen state for some hot and sour soup at Eliza’s–the cheapest and best Chinese food this city has to offer.
Caffe Macaroni: Stepping into this North Beach favorite is like a step back into the “Old Country,” waiters greet you with a smile and perfect Italian. Food is a steal but if you’re over 5’9 and claustrophobic, refrain from dining upstairs. At $10.50, the Orecchiette con Broccoli Rab is hard to beat and that’s just the beginning…