I had the most boring happy hour birthday crawl by myself in San Francisco.
I’m a lightweight which makes any type of bar crawl impossible.
On my birthday I found myself in San Francisco alone. I flew out mid-day with Jake meeting me after a work conference later that night.
My grand plan was to wander around the general vicinity of my hotel and happy hour hop.
San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. The rent and property prices are insane. It’s not unusual to see happy hour cocktails go for $12. This is unheard of in the Twin Cities. Despite the high cost of living, there are plenty of more affordable food and beverage options around the city.
Here are a few happy hour specials we found within walking distance of Union Square.
These two meals in San Francisco especially stood out.
North Beach is a neighborhood that’s like a little Italy. It’s located between the Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 39 area and Chinatown. Where the neighborhoods merge is an intriguing intersection of Asian and Italian restaurants.
As first time visitors, we felt overwhelmed at all of the dining options. We had such limited time that we wanted to make sure we didn’t fall into a tourist trap.
With all of my research, recommendations from people we met along the way, and gut feelings as we walked by a place, we were left to choose our own adventures.
The Li Po Lounge is a mood.
The inside is dimly lit and there is no food. Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine” hummed in the background, followed by Puddle of Mud’s “Blurry.”
The sign advertising the signature Mai Thai listed three types of rum, “Chinese Liquor” and pineapple juice. “Are we supposed to pick one of the rums?” I asked Jake. “No, it includes them all.”
Bourdain featured Li Po Lounge in his San Francisco episode of The Layover. Toasting him in a place that he loved with a drink that he liked felt very important. This Mai Tai here felt more like a quest.
Castle Danger sounds scarier than it really is.
This very pleasant brewery is located on Lake Superior in the small town of Two Harbors along scenic highway 61.
Of the few breweries we’ve visited between Duluth and Two Harbors, this is our favorite. Jake enjoys the IPA’s and like the nitro stout.
Castle Danger doesn’t serve food (except for chips and salsa) but that’s ok. You can order from local restaurants. Or, you can bring your own.
If you’re heading to Castle Danger from Duluth, stop at Northern Waters Smokehaus, first. Our favorite thing to order are the smoked fish boxes. Simply order whatever portion of smoked fish you would, and they will add saltine crackers and scallion cream cheese.
It took me one visit to love Duluth. Even in February, when the winds hurl sub-zero winds from across the lake.
In February, we felt like we had the lake to ourselves. In the summers you have to share.
Last weekend we headed 2.5 hours north back to Duluth. A mere 2.5 hours north, I-35 takes you far away from the hustle and bustle of the Twin Cities. As the hills open up and you reach the port you’ll feel like you’ve different world.
There was a blues music festival down in the open park by the aquarium, bringing lots of visitors to the area. Canadian wildfires north cast a sort of sleepy haze over the lake.