The majority of our first day was consumed by the 12 hour drive from Phoenix to San Francisco, but we were able to squeeze in one exciting attraction after we settled in our cozy room and the rain outside finally gave up.
Ghirardelli Square: While we visited at nighttime, this cute and classy shopping center still provided some great sights and good eats. There were quite a few upscale restaurants, particularly of the seafood variety, with views of the harbor which created a small crowd in the square despite the chilliness and wind. The square also contained art galleries, more dessert shops than your heart could ever desire, and twisty outdoor hallways leading to beautiful views of the harbor. But, of course, the main attraction was the Ghirardelli Dessert Shop which can be found right as you enter. Besides a quick stop at Lori's Diner for a bite to eat (nothing too exciting, but affordable), we spent most of our time at this mecca of chocolately desserts. I ordered a hot chocolate- which was incredibly rich, creamy, and delicious- as well as a chocolate covered strawberry-equally wonderful. John went all out and ordered a hot fudge sundae with whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry on top, held in place by a chocolate covered waffle-cone. As you can imagine, he was full after the first 5 bites, granted John's bites are quite large since he is always attemting to utilize the effeciency of his mouth. Since I cannot eat dairy we were left with a half-eaten sundae. My recommendation if you visit here is to try the hot cocoa, and if you get a sundae, split it with someone! I have also heard the shakes are quite tasty. Either way it was a delicious start to our trip!
Lodging: Marina Inn.
Pros: Great location, right on Lombard Street and within walking distance of several of the city's attractions. Also very affordable. We booked through priceline and only paid $54 for the night. It was a really cute old stlye building in a safe neighborhood.
Cons: The bed seemed to be 100 years old, and I am pretty sure I could have counted the springs individually if I had tried, as you could feel them all. The door had a huge gap bettwen it and the floor allowing for easy passage of hallway noise into the room. We got resourceful and stuffed the hotel pillows in the crack and used our own on the bed. Parking can also present a problem, as they do not have a formal parking lot; however, we discovered almost nothing in San Fran does!
Overall, I would recommend Marina Inn if you are looking for cheap lodging in an expensive city!