San Francisco Vacation Photos

My lovelies, I’m excited to share our San Francisco vacation photos, if you like to see. We had such a great time and are in love with the city!

As I mentioned before, we were lucky enough to swap apartments with Victoria from SFGirlbyBay. Well, she also let us borrow her sky-blue convertible VW Bug! The only challenge: It was a stick shift, so San Francisco’s steep hills definitely tested our driving skills. We may or may not have bumped another car (we did), which Victoria may or may not have been amazingly cool about (she was).

One of the first afternoons, we went to the California Academy of Sciences, where we saw giraffes, dinosaurs and a rad aquarium. Alex and I took turns watching the dizzying 30-minute film in the planetarium; the giant curved screen made you feel like you were actually flying through the solar system. It was, as Alex would say, a trip.

Meanwhile, Toby was in heaven watching the eels and sharks swimming underneath us. Alex and I joked that it might be the best day of his life thus far, and I think it actually really might have been.

One night, Alex and I went to Foreign Cinema, an fabulous restaurant that plays movies on a wall their back garden. (Aren’t the ivy-covered walls beautiful?)

We ordered bright green asparagus soup…

…and bright pink rose wine…

…and had a wonderful breezy evening.

The next day was rainy, so we took shelter in the Ferry Building with its cheese shops, gourmet groceries, fish markets…

…gourmet donut stands…

…and flower shops.

Alex and I also had literally, no exaggeration, the best sandwich of our lives (braised brisket, and I don’t even usually like brisket)…

…at this place.

If they ever opened a shop in New York, I would eat there everyday.

Afterward, we chilled on a bench behind the Ferry Building and watched the waves. Toby is obsessed with all water other than baths, and he was so enthralled that he didn’t even mind his soaking wet socks.

Afterward, Alex suggested we walk up to Fisherman Wharf’s Musee Mecanique, an old-school arcade with tons of coin-operated games, fortune-tellers (like in the movie Big!), and musical instruments that play old-time-y music when you put in a quarter.

One of the most famous arcade machines was “Laughing Sal,” who had a crazy cackle.

The sign said she had “terrified children for over fifty years.”

I figured Toby was too young to be scared of her…

I was wrong.

That night, on my sister’s recommendation, Alex and I did a taco crawl (just the two of us) through the Mission district. We stopped into a bunch of different taquerias for beers, margaritas and, of course, tacos.

Pork carnitas was our favorite.

P.S. Did you know there is a Michelin-starred taco truck?

On our final night, we went with my sister and her husband to a party at SFMOMA. We drank cocktails in the giant lobby…

…and then had our run of the place. It was cool to explore the museum after hours and get to see all the art up close and casually.

Other highlights of the trip: Walking out to Point Bonita lighthouse, hanging out at Dolores Park, going to Tartine for croque monsieur (three times), getting Korean-style massages and salt scrubs in Japantown, and checking out San Francisco’s beautiful toy stores.

San Francisco, we love you! We can’t wait to come back. :)

P.S. 10 tips for traveling with a baby.

  1. Where did you go on your taco crawl? We are visiting SF in a few weeks, I would love to know!

  2. That last photo of Toby is one of the most precious things I’ve ever seen. What a beautiful, beaming smile!

  3. Toby looks like you in that last picture! Good for you for taking some alone time with your hubby!!! Parents who go on vacation with their toddlers often forget to take time to themselves! Love the pictures, especially the one of Toby watching the waves.

  4. Looks like you had such a lovely time!! I’ll definitely keep this post in mind for my next visit to San Francisco… :)

  5. went to foreign cinema with my boyfriend last sunday based on your recommendation. so good!!

    thanks for the tip :)


  6. it sounds like such an amazing trip! so glad you had a good time.

  7. Toby is so darn cute! So glad you had a fab time! That foriegn cinema looks positively intriguing! I may have to check it out on our next trip there!

  8. great photos! :)
    i like the vintage feel .. what did you use to edit them?

  9. J’aime bien cette forme de prospection/introspection avec visuels vraiment sympas

  10. That last photo of Toby is so precious.

  11. What a perfect trip! I live in SF and may need to recreate this itinerary some weekend. We had our wedding at Foreign Cinema, such a special place!

  12. Lovely pics as ever. Intrigued by the border. How were they shot?

  13. what fun photos! my kids liked the musee mechanique last time we went; we blew a lot of money there. + those doughnuts look crazy good!

  14. It sounds like you had an amazing trip! This post makes me want to do everything exactly like you did it! Keep sharing :) BTW, Toby literally has to be one of the most beautiful baby boys I have ever seen, you could just get lost in his eyes. Nice work ;)

  15. Kara says...

    Taco crawl is a great idea! Love the art museum photo.

  16. for jetlag, we adjusted toby to the SF schedule. it only took one day on either end, luckily. xo

  17. claire, thank you! the cardigan is from anthropologie, from years ago xo

  18. wow what a great trip! bravo for cramming so much in with a baby! i think it’s time i pay SF another visit…

  19. I went to a wedding at Foreign Cinema last September, such a fun yet classy venue. Gave me so many new ideas for turning my favorite spots into wedding venues. I’ll have to share the photos.

  20. Oh my goodness that last smiley photo is too much! Beautiful photos, looks like a great trip. I’ve only been once and that was for a work visit to our SF office, but this makes me want to come up with another reason to go soon.

  21. So fun! We’re taking a trip out to San Fran in August, and these pics made me even more excited!!!

  22. Anonymous says...

    How did you deal with jetlag? Did Toby adjust or did you keep him on NYC schedule?

  23. makes me want to go to san francisco!

  24. I love these pictures! I miss San Fran! looks like a lot of fun :)

  25. I am so excited to get back to San Francisco in August now! Great pictures, you have such a beautiful, happy family!

  26. haha, So Big is toby’s fave book of all time!! :)

  27. is it just me or your sis looks just like katherine heigl in that pic??

  28. great pictures! i love how they are so timeless!

  29. oh it looks like you had a lovely time! :) San Fransisco… I’ve been dieing to go for years and your beautiful pictures just inspired me a little more!

  30. It looks like you guys had a great trip! Your photos are fantastic and show what an amazing city San Francisco is.

  31. that looks like a blast!! that tobester is so so cute!! oh mygosh. love him!

  32. Love these pics! Looks like you guys had a blast—taco sampling sounds divine. I love the 1st and last pic of toby the most! In the first one, I love that you can see his little baby belly. The last one is so painfully sweet! I love his sweet, sincere expression and all of his little baby teeth:) If you ever need a free sitter in NJ, let me know! He is an angel:))))

  33. where was Toby when it was you and your husband’s night out? :)

  34. so happy to see these photos :) i just moved from san francisco to india and wasn’t feeling homesick one bit until i saw this post! next time you kids are out that way you should stop by flora grubb gardens…its kind of magical.

  35. The picture of Toby after seeing laughing Sal is precious! He’s so cute!

  36. I live in SOMA, across the street from the Ferry Building, so lucky me :) & I’m not a foodie like so many people who live here… but Foreign Cinema is my favorite restaurant of all, particularly because of its wonderful atmosphere – relaxed, beautiful and romantic.

  37. Oh my! How grown up is Toby looking now. I remember the posts of when he was born. Actually, I remember the posts of when you were carrying him, and when you announced your pregnancy!

    He looks like an absolute treasure… Plus i LOVE his jacket ;)

    Great post and photos!

    Niki @

  38. love love love point bonita light house. my sister and i walk out there from rodeo beach all the time.

    so glad you enjoyed your trip.

    but i’m serious about trying gamine next time! favorite restaurant ever. :)


  39. You have the cutest baby in the world!!!

  40. Oh my goodness- look at that smile!! He’s growing up so fast!
    Great SF pics! That is one of my favorite cities to vacation in- so many great sites to see :)

  41. this looks so fun, joanna!

    your family is beautiful (as always!).

    i can’t wait to get to san francisco sometime this summer, and i’ll definitely be checking out foreign cinema. thanks for the recommendation!

  42. looks like such a great trip, joanna! love it, as always!

  43. picture of toby crying was the saddest thing ever.

  44. Amazing pictures! Your son is adorable. I am obsessed with short trips to SF.

  45. Love this post! I’m bookmarking it so I have some ideas for my next trip to SF!

  46. What a fun trip! You and Alex certainly know how to have a good time. Toby must have been in heaven at the aquarium, there’s a dome with sharks and fish in the ceiling at the one in Seattle, too. :) I’m glad you had a good time. P.S. Where oh where did you find your grey sweater I saw in a couple of those pictures? It looks so cute!

  47. Anonymous says...

    Oh, that last picture melts my heart.

  48. These are lovely!! My family and I are headed to SF in a couple of weeks and seeing the pics just made me more excited to go!! Loved your pictures!! Specially the last one!! I mean come on, that smile! Just melted me!!
    I’ll take your word for it with the sandwiches!! I’m gonna look for the place and try them! Thanks for sharing!!

  49. Aw! So Big was my daughter’s favorite book when she was a baby. Our copy is battered silly from all the times she read it. :( I miss little chubby cheeks! Your vacay looked terrific.

  50. Oh my goodness, those doughnuts look FANTASTIC! also you’re baby is such a dear. you’re blessed!

  51. oh, i absolutely positively loved this post! heading out to sanfran in about a week and this just got me so excited! love that city! glad you had so much fun!

  52. Joanna! I scared my cat because I laughed so hard when I saw the photo of Toby crying. Priceless photo!

    Looks like you had a great time. ;)

  53. Ha! I grew up in SF…and I was terrified of her as a kid, too. Her and Lizzie Borden at the Wax Museum. Ah, wholesome childhood entertainment.

  54. that last photo of Toby is too adorable for words… He’s looking more and more like you as he gets older.

  55. Anonymous says...

    Your trip sounded fantastic, particularly the taco crawl! I love reading other people’s travel plans- they always make me so excited to visit a new city, someday.

  56. Speaking of San Francisco, I was just thinking about going there! I think I’ll go to some of the restaurants you went to. They just look so lovely!

    By the way, your son is way too cute! *pinch cheeks*


  57. You had the best vacation didn’t you?!?! San Francisco is the best. You are such a beautiful young family.

  58. These pictures are awesome. When we lived in California we lived right out of Sacramento and we would take turns one weekend Lake Tahoe the next San Francisco. I love Tahoe but San Francisco is my favorite! I don’t think you would ever run out of things to do or see there.

  59. what an amazingly fun trip!!! Looks like you all had a blast. Love that last photo of Toby!

  60. My husband and I went there on our honeymoon and we had a great time — we loved the Ferry Building as welll!

  61. Anonymous says...

    You and Alex are so cute – of course, Toby is adorable. Lucy and Paul look like such a fun couple. All in all a great family and a great trip by the looks..

  62. We’re still having the rainy and overcast skies out here in SF. Looking at Laughing Sal takes me back a few years. She really did creep out everyone out at Playland. She had one of those big, cackling belly laughs… Glad you were able to do and see so many great things. The Ferry Plaza is quite a place that I never tire of going through on my way home to Marin . . .

  63. Wow, looks like you had an amazing trip! That “taco crawl” sounds like a ton of fun!

  64. This post makes me super excited to take my 7 month old to the Academy of Sciences. We were waiting till he can fully appreciate all the crazy creatures. Seems like that’s pretty much now. Glad you had so much fun here!

  65. Anonymous says...

    Ten tips for travelling with a baby? Funny, doesn’t sound like you had your baby with you much at all.

  66. Anonymous says...

    Oh I love the closing photo!!

  67. awesome photos! beautiful family! love San Francisco! that toby is gosh darn gorgeous!

  68. I adore SF, used to live there, now I live in downtown Seattle, the hubs and I do home exchanges too through If you ever want to swap with us in Seattle we’d love to visit NYC again. In fact I used to live in NYC too :) P.S. Toby is a d o r a b l e !

  69. What great pictures! It looks like the trip was amazing. And I love your tips for traveling with babies.

  70. So glad you liked our city. And Toby holding the bars by the sea is adorable. He’s starting to look like you when he smiles, it seems.

  71. that was awesome! thanks for sharing!

  72. Anonymous says...

    I guess this is one of the many perks of living in a place like NYC where people actually *want* to swap houses 20 times!

    Looks like you all had a great time in SF!

  73. So jealous of your taco crawl…that’s right up my alley! And how can Toby possibly be THAT adorable, even when he’s so upset!?! :)

  74. Looks like the most perfect vacation. Toby and his sweet little teeth – that picture is beyond cute. And all of that food. Well, esp the donuts….look divine!
    xo trina

  75. Oh, thank you so much for sharing with all of us… this was a blissful and happy few minute journey for me! Your family photos and beautiful smiles always feel like a great big group hug.

  76. that seems like the most fabulous vacation :) absolutely perfect.

  77. wow Jo, how awesome, i actually just moved to san fran a couple months ago and youve given me some great tips and have definitely seen more of the city than I have :) I’m a Journalism major and aspiring magazine writer and freelancer- which is how I happened to stumble across yuor awesome blog ;) thanks for the oodles of inspiration :)

  78. How fun to see the city through your eyes! I’m impressed you went to Tartine 3x for the croque monsieur (though I can hardly blame you). Next time you’re in the Mission, head for Balompié Cafe for Salvadoran pupusas, or better yet the plato típico #1: a pupusa revuelta, pastel de pollo, and yuca frita con pollo (a flat, meat/cheese-stuffed masa tortilla, a deep-fried; a chicken/veggie-filled crunchy-soft empanada-cousin; and fried yucca–Salvadoran tater tots–with chicken on top, respectively).

  79. so much i want to comment on, regarding sf, but all i can say is your baby is soooooooooooooo cute. like, gosh, how do you get anything done all day? lovely trip!

  80. That first picture is wonderful. It reminds me of the images you shared with us of your mother in Paris.

  81. That taco looks phenomenal! San Francisco is a place I’ve been dying to go to so thanks for the good tips!

  82. melanie says...

    sounds like you had a lovely time! those donuts look soooo good… as do the tacos!

    did you know you can get a korean massage and scrub in flushing at spa castle?? it’s a 4-story building of spas, saunas, relaxation rooms, pools and a cafeteria. it’s quite an experience!

  83. OMG at Laughing Sal and then Toby’s reaction. Priceless!

  84. Nice pics… Toby is so big and lovely.

  85. oh and the gourmet donuts…..i’m almost angry at how hungry that just made me.

  86. the scared toby picture is so hilarious in a sad kind of way.

    this is one of my fav cup of jo posts, btw…. i love when you post about the family. and now i wanna go to SF and just re-live your vacay.

  87. Ohhhh I am so glad you did the lighthouse walk- magical. Isn’t it such a special city? Sometimes, when I read your tales of NYC, I miss it so much…my heart gets caught in my throat a little, but one glimpse of the bay and I feel a little better. x

  88. Looks and sounds like you guys had a wonderful time. All the photos and the details of your trip mae me so nostalgic for sf! I remember going to the opening of Foreign Cinema, and one of my first dates with my now husband was at the mechanical museum. And of course, those carnitas tacos, that I drool-dream about all the time. Hooray for great cities!

  89. Seriously, MOST. HANDSOME. BABY. EVER. He looks like a perfectly hand drawn kiddo from a vintage children’s book!


    The whole trip sounds like so much fun :) lovely pics!!

  90. Yay! A fabulous “trip”, indeed! I love seeing the city from an outsiders perspective. And yes, we take our tacos very seriously. 7×7 magazine even did an issue on the search for the best burrito! :)

  91. That looks like so much fun! I live in the city and I haven’t done all those things (yet).
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  92. Toby is growing up so fast! He looks more like a little boy in that last photo than a baby. : ) This really made me want to visit (and dine in) San Fransisco.

  93. we went to san francisco on our honeymoon and i adored it! but, i can not imagine navigating that city in a manual car! kudos to you, i drive stick and would not be comfortable with that! thanks for sharing, i do love that city.

  94. Anonymous says...

    Oh, Toby is SO cute! I know this is sort of the entire point of genetics, but he looks SO much like you and SO much like Alex, at the same time! Glad you had a wonderful trip! :-)

  95. Anonymous says...

    Did I see a salted caramel donut? Oh. wow!

  96. I love people’s retelling of their San Francisco visits – you guys sure pack a lot of city into a week (way more than I do in a month for sure!). :)

  97. Anonymous says...

    Wonderful pictures! THat last one of Toby is to eat!!!

  98. Raquel says...

    OMG,I want to bite Tobys cheeks ;)

  99. I’ve visited San Francisco for but a week, and still feel as though I left my heart there. Looks like a fantastic time!


    PS. Loves the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” reference – “There’s some more flowers kids. Go pick them” (among many!)

  100. you guys did alot! and looks like everyone had a good time. What a treat that you had a car to use as well! I’ve never been to San francisco so I enjoyed seeing it through your eyes.

    very interesting donut flavors, the mango chili caught my eye!

  101. oh joanna! toby is the cutest, but YOU look so smiley and gorgeous in these photos!

  102. Oh my goodness! I have been anxiously waiting for this post ever since I offered my SF resident advice!

    I was so very happy to see that you also loved some of my SF city “bests”! Thanks for sharing your trip with us – I hope SF was very kind to you and your beautiful fam!

  103. Oh my goodness what a fun time! loving watchign Toby grow up, adorable:-)

  104. WOW!! You packed a lot into that short visit! Looks like fun too! Especially the ‘eats’!! One day I’m going to get to the West coast…ONE DAY!!! ^_^

  105. So glad you guys had a great time! Again, it was so neat running into you guys. Such a treat.

    And how CUTE is that last pic of Toby. Oh my gosh.


  106. I’m moving back to the States from Europe this summer, and one of the things I’m looking forward to the most is traveling within the country. I’m headed to California for vacation in July and am so excited for another trip to SF! It really is one of the best cities.

  107. I love vacationing vicariously through your pictures! Looks like a great trip.

  108. great photos! looks like y’all had an amazing trip! just out of curiosity, do you ever get recognized when you’re out and about? i’m sure you do, but do people ever come up to you? that would be sort of strange, i bet!

  109. Joanna, looks like you guys had a wonderful trip! You went to some of my favorite places in this lovely city that I’m so lucky to live in. I hope you visit again soon- there’s always oh so much to do here!

    PS Toby’s getting so big- that picture of him showing off his cute baby teeth- SO ADORABLE! What a happy guy you have.

  110. aw, I grew up in San Francisco so I’m getting so nostalgic! Love the pictures.

  111. why are baby butts so cute?! also the mission is my fave place for tacos! it ruins other mexican food for me since none can compare!

  112. OMG Joanna, that last photo of Toby! I could drop dead. He is that cute!

    So glad you had such a nice time in this wonderful city!

  113. Oh I loved seeing those pictures! And I don’t blame Toby for being a little freaked out by Sal… eeek!

  114. Alex says...

    Such great memories. I wish we could go back tomorrow. PS–Funny to see that flower shot in a Cup of Jo context. I actually took it for a few of my friends as a winking reference to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” People who have seen the movie will know what I’m talking about.

  115. sweetest photos. Thanks for sharing! I adore SF and love being around such gorgeous places. If only I was able to bump into you while you visited (in a non-stalker way!). I adore your blog!

  116. omg your son is the most adorable baby on this planet. THOSE EYES!!!

  117. I’m pretty scared of laughing Sal myself!

    Great photos–looks like a terrific vacation.

  118. Jeepers, you hit most of my favorite places: way to go! Oh Tartine….!!

    Congrats (from another mum with an 11-month-old) on a cross country adventure – you rock!!

  119. It looks like you guys had the most amazing time! I’ll write down all your recommendations!

    Toby is just precious!


  120. I love seeing your family photos, it’s so nice of you to share! What a gorgeous family you are.

  121. Wow, Joanna … what a great recap! I loved reading about your adventures … I almost felt like I was there :)

    Toby was more brave with Laughing Sal than I would have been … she sure is creepy looking {and I didn’t even here her cackle}.

    Don’t you just love stumbling on things so randomly … like the “best sandwich of your lives”, so rad! The best thing about traveling are those things “off the beaten path”.

    xx Cat

    ps. I drive stick and don’t envy stick-shift driving in the HILLY roads of SF at all! Talk about testing your clutch to gas skillz!?!?!?

  122. Nice photos. Glad you showed so many. Gave me a real thrill to see them all.

  123. Joanna–your trip looked wonderful! We were in San Francisco last August (we live in San Diego), and visited the Musee Mechanique also. My “kids” (17 and 19) loved it! We have the same picture of that scary lady!
    Are those donuts from Dynamo donuts?
    We saw them on the food network and tracked the store down. The flavors are so creative and the donuts taste like pastry! yum.

  124. wahooooo! so fun. my husband and i were there the same week you guys were! i’ll admit, i was sort of hoping to bump into you strolling around :) we got the croque monsieur too! however, we missed some of the restaurants you’re recommending…hmm. ahh, it’s such a lovely city :)

  125. The Ferry Building is my favorite place! Cow Girl Creamery always rocks my socks. So glad you enjoyed “my people.” Beautiful photos.

  126. What fabulous pictures. I don’t blame Toby one bit – Laughing Sal is scary. :)

    That last pic of Toby leaves no doubt that you are his momma!

    Great post!