East Vs. West: The 2 Biggest Differences Between Charleston & San Francisco

Let me preface this post by saying how much I missed blogging. Sometimes you just don’t realize how much you love something until you can’t do it.

For the past 4.5 days I have been soaking up the California sunshine in San Francisco (without internet access).

In case you missed it, Dan and I flew cross country for kettlebell training. And since neither of us had been to California, and San Francisco has always been a city of interest, we decided to take 2 extra days to explore.

I can’t wait to share everything with you all, but because so much happened, I am going to break it up into two posts:

1- What we did in San Francisco and

2 – Our kettlebell certification course.

Cool deal?

Get ready for a very heavy photo post!

But before we go into that,  I have to answer a question I kept getting asked by those we met…

What’s the biggest difference we noticed between San Fran and Charleston?? 

Now, landscape aside… two things really stand out:

–> Pace

–> Hospitality

You might think that I am going to say that California is faster paced than South Carolina. You might think that I will say that southerners are more hospitable…

You would be wrong.

—> We learned quickly that Californians go by their own time. Showing up 15 minutes late apparently is the norm, taking time to walk across the street while cars are waiting is no big deal, and even drivers seemed anything but filled with road rage.

All I know is that life seemed to move a bit slower, which was great for a vacation. But there were definitely times when my early-to-everything personality started to want to rush things a long.

—> And then there was everyone’s hospitality. Everyone was so freaking nice, it put Charlestonians to shame. Seriously. Everyone was so welcoming, polite, and seemed to go out of their way to say “hey, how’s it going? What a beautiful day!”

I loved it. And it came in handy when our trip went a little sour (more on that later).

Between the chillaxed atmosphere and the amazing people, I fell in love. I think I actually left a little bit of my heart in San Francisco on Monday night (we took the red eye home). I kept teasing Dan that we should move there. I was only half kidding.

What was it that made me fall head over heels in love?

Let’s take a look at our adventures.

Falling In Love With San Fran: Our Adventures

Muir Woods

Friday morning we woke up and immediately drove to Muir Woods… one of the amazing redwood forests just outside the city. This was the one thing Dan wanted to do most, so we did it on our only full tourist day.

It did not disappoint.

The day started with a drive over THE bridge!


And some pretty amazing road side views that took my breath away…

driveupmuir danroadside

We originally had plans to walk around, snap some pictures, and then run the trails. But the beauty of the forest had us mesmerized as we walked and walked and walked some more.




But when our walk took us for a 7-8 mile hike on the trails (and even leaving the park), we felt that was enough.

This was one of the highlights… suddenly the trees parted:


And we were provided the most amazing views overlooking the bay.




This served as the perfect turn around point, but pictures didn’t stop here!




It’s cool… a tree that could house us for a few nights!


One of my favorite fitness shots from our trip!


And yes, there were times I couldn’t resist the urge to sprint. Dan just rolled his eyes. I can’t help it, these legs were meant for running!

We were exhausted by the end but didn’t want our day to end. We just wanted to let our legs rest since we had to be 100% the following day for kettlebell training.

Fisherman’s Wharf

On the way back to the city, we stopped by the infamously tourist spot, Fisherman’s Wharf. We don’t love extra touristy places so we didn’t stay long. Just meanered down the main road, snapped some pictures…


And ate some fresh crab from a street vendor. We had to see if west coast crab tasted any different than east… it didn’t. Just as delicious!


It definitely wasn’t  a highlight of the trip, but we very well couldn’t come to San Francisco and not stop by.

Golden Gate Park

This park was HUGE! Thanks Bonnie for recommending we stop by the Golden Gate Park. I didn’t get a chance to run the park, but I could tell that I would love running the trails around the lakes, gardens, and gorgeously manicured lawns.


After this it was time for dinner and relaxing. Our stay at San Matteo Marriott was perfect for both and we enjoyed several low key take-out dinners in the privacy of our hotel suite. Quick note: we used Priceline’s “Name Your Price” option to get this 4-star hotel for just $90/night. Awesome deal, we loved it!

Half Moon Bay Beach & The Ritz

Half Moon Bay was our last destination of the trip.

Saturday and Sunday was filled with kettlebell training (more on that tomorrow), so Monday we packed up our rental car with our luggage, checked out of our hotel and made the 20 minute drive to the Pacific Ocean.


Then we had to look for a way down!


Dan’s #1 request was to visit the red woods, mine had been to run some place amazing.

The Pacific Ocean was amazing and served that desire perfectly.



I covered 4 miles in the soft sand, breathing in and giving thanks for the opportunity. Never in my life have I been more thankful for my legs than during that run.

At one point, I stopped, closed my eyes, listened to the waves and threw my arms up. Sounds cheesy, yes, but it was just one of those amazing moments.

While I ran, Dan enjoyed the fresh air and the opportunity to scope out the area for interesting rock formations…


Interesting is all I can say about that.


Can you tell, handstands are something I am working on? You’ll be seeing a lot more of them as I get stronger.

Afterwards, we enjoyed a lunch and cocktail hour at The Ritz Carlton. I love the Ritz and it had been recommended by many in our kettlebell class. It didn’t disappoint!



Just a few miles outside of Half Moon Bay is the famous Mavericks… a popular surfing zone home to some of the best waves in the country. It is also the site of one of the biggest surf competitions.


After stopping for directions we finally made it out and wow. Dan and I again were left speechless. We happened to hit the spot at the perfect time to experience the true beauty of Marvericks.

Once we arrived we were greeted with a gorgeous view of the local bay…


We continued to followed a trail until we were then faced with the tidal pools filled with fish, sea anemones and bright green seaweed.

Look at that water! So clear, I wanted to jump right in!


Upon walking out more…

mavseeweed mav3

And the crashing waves. The competition was just a week ago, so we just missed the HUGE sets of waves!

memav2 wavmav

What I loved most about the whole trip was the diversity that San Francisco offers. One day we’re breathing in fresh mountain air, the next we were dipping our toes into the ocean with Seagulls flying around us.

Our trip wasn’t exactly as perfect as we had planned, but I’ll have to reveal all those dirty events tomorrow when I talk about kettlebell training. I will conclude with this (because I have got to get to bed)…

San Francisco is so far my favorite travel destination. I know I haven’t traveled as much as many, but I do have such places as Scotland, Bermuda, Utah, and South Florida to compare to.

Where was your favorite travel spot?

Make sure to check back in tomorrow as I share our Kettlebell Athletics Certification experience! Can’t wait to explain this one…


  • Well maybe if you’d gone to the cool parts of Utah it’d be your favorite!!!!!! Park city ain’t nothin compared to the rest of it! I love San Francisco. It’s my favorite California big city.

    • Very true friend! I guess I’ll just have to go back to Utah and see what else there is to see! Twist my arm why don’t you!

  • Jenn

    I agree with you! The people in Los Angeles were super friendly! And the driving wasn’t that bad even though there was a ton of traffic, no road rage like there is here.

    • Everyone is so freaking nice!

  • Beautiful photos!! I love San Francisco 🙂

  • Great pics! The redwoods are just amazing. I lived just outside San Fran for 6 or 7 years- the people there are VERY friendly. But I wouldn’t make that a blanket statement for the whole state….Glad you guys had a blast! Can’t wait to read about the training

    • I bet it was a great place to live!

  • Kim

    I loved seeing all of the pictures – gorgeous!!! The views from your first day are amazing. And the beach is always my favorite place – especially when it is followed up with a nice lunch!!!
    Sorry to hear that there was a low-point to your trip!

  • The pictures are awesome, and I agree… that’s a beautiful place to walk or run. Even if you didn’t run on those trails, sometimes it’s fun to just slow down and walk on them. You’re still getting great exercise. So sorry there was a low point to your trip at all, but at least you had all these good things, too.

    I actually feel like the pace of Charleston is fairly fast :). But, I grew up in an area much more rural, too.

    • It was great, and I am glad we got to take it in without running around the whole time!

  • Melissa

    Great pics! I grew up there, so it was like a walk down memory lane (I am living in Idaho now). Anxious to hear more tomorrow! FYI, it is Fisherman’s Wharf, not Whorf. 😉

    • thanks for the correction! Oops.

  • I love San Francisco, we call it the Boston of the West Coast (minus the masshole part ;)). We try to visit every couple years. Half Moon Bay is one of my favorite places.

    • That’s funny. We call Charleston the Boston of the south!

  • Elizabeth

    I actually work in San Francisco and have lived somwmewhere within 2 hours of it most of my life. Glad to hear we the area left a pretty good impression! When it comes to traffic lights and pedestrians and cars, it is a bit of a dog eat dog world sometimes. Also, about half the people are on their own time. The thing with the city is most people can show up to work between 8 and 9, or a similar time frame. To someone who keeps a strict schedule, it can be off-putting. Looks like you got to visit some great places here! Glad you fell in love with the city. It is definitely a unique kind of place 😉

  • I live in the Bay Area and yes….it’s just gorgeous! Love your trip.

    • Thanks, you’re a lucky lady to live out there!

  • Fisherman’s Warf!!! I need to go! I have always wanted to go! 🙂 The weather looks like it was PHENOMENAL for you! And OMG no internet?! That would have either been FANTASTIC or….. PAINFUL! LOL!

  • Rebecca

    I too am lucky enough to call the Bay Area home. I’m so glad you had a great time, and you got out of here just in time – it is now pouring rain, which we ned desperately, but wouldn’t QUITE make for the same photos options.

    If you ever come back, you must visit the Big Sur/Carmel area. It is truly breathtaking. Also, the entire Bay Area has lots of cool places to check out — Woodside is beautiful, so is Livermore, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Santa Cruz…to name a few 🙂 It’s a wonderful place. I will say I’m surprised to hear how nice everyone was…not that we’re known for being rude, but I guess I don’t exactly think SF is particularly friendly and mellow. But it’s all about perspective, and I am so happy you enjoyed yourselves 🙂

    • Thanks for the recommendations! Carmel is def on our list for next time! I already can’t wait to make the trip out again (though the plane ride part stinks)!

  • It’s so funny that you mention the pedestrians crossing the street. I noticed the same thing, especially being from the north east where everyone is ALWAYS in a rush. My mom texted me the day after they got home to say that she missed CA because she walked into a crosswalk and a car didn’t stop. So glad you enjoyed your trip.. hopefully you make it back out here soon and we can visit!

    • I hope your parents had a great time! We will definitely meet up next time, I can’t wait to make it back!

  • This post made my morning- I moved from San Francisco to San Diego thinking the grass was greener in Southern California. Northern California has my heart! The next time you’re in the Bay area, you’ll have to check out Tennessee Valley and Phoenix Lake. Both of these areas have stunningly beautiful trail runs! I felt like I could run forever there- there’s something to being lost in nature! 🙂

    • Thanks! I can’t wait to get back!I could get lost running there for sure!

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