Gluten-Free Guide: San Francisco Adventure
Exciting Update! Asian Box, a 100% gluten-free Vietnamese restaurant with locations throughout Northern and Southern California, including San Francisco, has opened a location at the San Francisco Airport.
- Mariposa Baking – 100% Gluten-Free Bakery
- Vantigo Tour of San Francisco in a VW Bus
- Guided Bike Tour including Golden Gate Bridge & Sausalito
- Joe Dimaggio Playground
Some of the links on this post are affiliate links. To learn more, visit our Disclosures.
Mariposa Baking – Try Gluten-free Croissants & More!
Any post about gluten-free San Francisco should start with Mariposa Baking Co. If you do one thing in San Francisco, go to Mariposa and try a delicious, gluten-free croissant!
We discovered this gem on our gluten-free San Fransisco four-day getaway. It was worthy of two trips to the Ferry Building. There is also an Oakland location if you are leaving the city. Since this trip, my husband’s coworker (now my favorite of his coworkers) brought home Mariposa treats from a business trip; and we have placed mail orders, which have all arrived in perfect condition.
Mariposa has nailed the buttery layers of gluten-free croissants and pain au chocolat. I have tried wonderful versions of these two French staples at gluten-free bakeries across the country, and Mariposa’s are the best. The cinnamon rolls are also a family favorite. If you are in San Francisco or Oakland, Mariposa is worth the stop to get gluten-free treats, sandwiches for picnic lunches while touring, and quick breakfast pastries. Then sign up for the email list notifying you of promotions and shipping discounts, because you will miss their goodies when you return home.
When my kids were little, there was no such thing as a family "vacation". There were family trips, but no vacations. This San Francisco getaway crossed over from trip to vacation, when my kids packed and lugged their own suitcases! Pro tip: I provide the packing lists and we pack light.
San Francisco Public Transportation
While most cities beg you to leave your car at home, San Francisco particularly rewards you for doing so, with trollies, ferries, and bike paths. We purchased the 3-day visitor pass for travel within the city, and the trolleys were a hit with the kids. The BART (not included in the 3-day pass) was the easiest way to get from the airport to the Omni Hotel, which was conveniently located next to a trolley line and walking distance to Chinatown, Union Square, and, most importantly, Mariposa.
We ate safely at the Omni for breakfast, which was included in our room rate; and the doormen were exceptional: welcomed us warmly, provided umbrellas for rain, and stopped trolleys for inexperienced tourists.
Scoma’s for Gluten-Free San Francisco Seafood
We enjoyed dinner at Scoma's for fresh seafood and a few seals playing in the water out front. Lobster bisque was my favorite and Miss E enjoyed the fish and chips.
Bike Tour: Across the Golden Gate Bridge and Ferry Back
I LOVE tours. Museum tours, castle tours, theater tours, catacomb tours, coastal tours… I love them all. Unfortunately, my kids HATE tours. Museum tours, castle tours… You get the idea. On this trip, I was determined to find a tour my kids would tolerate. I found two that they LOVED: a guided bike tour and the coolest VW bus tour.
The guided bike tour was one of the highlights of our trip. We started out with a quick safety video and each of us was fitted to an appropriate bike and helmet. Experience has taught me that odds were good we would be halfway across the Golden Gate Bridge and Miss E would be done. So, I chose the tagalong bike for me and Miss E. No way was I missing the magical bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. It was an excellent tour. There were a few guides in the group, so we always had at least one in the lead and one bringing up the rear. There were informational stops along the way.
Of course, the bike trip across the Golden Gate Bridge was surreal and the ride down into Sausalito was nearly as wonderful, but more in a charming and less in a touristy sort of way.
At the end of the bike tour, the group split up to enjoy Sausalito. Our family stopped for a taco lunch at Copita Tequileria y Comida before taking the ferry back to San Francisco. Highly recommend Copita for celiacs. When we were there, drinks were the only items that were not gluten-free.
Vantigo City Tour in a VW Bus
Even better than the bike tour was the Vantigo San Francisco City Tour in a VW Bus. My kids still talk about Lilly, the beautifully restored, red VW Bus that drove us around San Francisco. Actually, it was the tour guide, Chris, who drove us through San Francisco’s distinct neighborhoods, with history lessons and photo stops sprinkled throughout.
Lands End Lookout, one of the stops on the Vantigo tour, included a snack shop where we found a few gluten-free snacks, including caramel popcorn. Vantigo is a unique experience and very family-friendly, although if your family includes kids four and under, you will be required to book a private tour.
My final tips are to book Alcatraz months in advance, and take advantage of some free fun: Joe Dimaggio Playground (after a walk down Lombard Street), Cable Car Museum, Wells Fargo (Gold Rush) Museum, and Chinatown. On your way out of San Francisco, make one last stop at Mariposa to complete your Gluten-free San Francisco trip!
For more great California getaways, read Gluten-Free in Ojai and Gluten-Free Guide: Yosemite National Park.