With its breathtaking views that span the entire Bay Area and its location in the heart of downtown San Francisco, the luxurious Asian-influenced Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco is a hotel that locals recommend to visiting friends over and over again. There’s a bar that features innovative cocktails and a Five-Star spa with plenty of rejuvenating treatments. However, the best reason to book a stay at the Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco right now is its impressive relationship with Porsche.
Through October 11, the Porsche Destination Drives program is parked at the luxe property. This is the fourth stop on the program’s five-city tour that has paired Porsche with select Five-Star resorts across the country (the final stop is The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician in Scottsdale from November 1 to December 13). At each destination, hotel guests are invited to take one of four Porsches out for a complimentary, two-hour joyride. Choose the plug-in Panamera S E-Hybrid or the sexy 911 Carrera S Cabriolet sports car for a spin around town.
Being a Bay Area native, I was excited to take the 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet for a cruise around my beloved city. After quickly dropping the top and browsing the printout with the Porsche concierge’s recommended routes, I decided to craft my own path with the glorious Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco’s most popular tourist attraction, being the first stop on my agenda. Here’s how you can do the same.
Start by exiting the Mandarin’s parking lot and then turning right onto Sansome Street. Gaze up at the skyscraping high-rise buildings located downtown as you drive straight on Sansome Street toward the Embarcadero. Turn left onto the Embarcadero and pass a couple of piers before you take another left onto Bay Street.
From there, you’ll pass North Beach’s Columbus Avenue, the back side of Ghiradelli Square, and the greens of Fort Mason. Continue straight down Bay Street until you hit Laguna Street and then turn right. At this point, you’re probably ready for a spectacular view. Well, you’re in luck. As you meander along the Marina Green, you’ll see the majestic Golden Gate Bridge and the mighty Pacific Ocean stretching out beyond it. But watch out because tourists taking a stroll and natives exercising along the way might just stop and stare at your stunning ride.
Continue on Marina Boulevard, which turns into Old Mason Street and passes through Crissy Field. Follow the signs for the bridge: take a left at Crissy Field Avenue and curve around as you get closer and closer to the beautiful overpass. Turn right onto Lincoln Boulevard and before you know it, you’ll be passing underneath the red arches of the getaway to the West. Once you arrive in the North Bay, take the left-hand side exit toward the Marin Headlands. This is where the tour takes a windy, but thrilling turn. Power the Porsche up to get to the top of the hill, but don’t stop there — the best and most private view is yet to come. Drive past the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the Marin Headlands Visitor Center. (This area was once used to house military settlements and batteries that served as protection for the Bay Area during both World Wars. Today, the Marin Headlands are frequented by hikers and tourists.) Follow the signs toward Point Bonita Lighthouse. Wind down a narrow one-lane coastal road and you’ll end up at the perfect point for snapping an unreal photo of yourself in the Porsche with the Bay, Golden Gate Bridge, and San Francisco as a backdrop.
After you’ve snapped a picture or two, take Bunker Road toward Highway 101. Don’t be scared as you drive through the tight tunnel, instead marvel at the fact that you’re underneath a mountain. You end up on the other side of the bridge, with just enough time to grab a glass of champagne and platter of oysters at Sausalito’s Cavallo Point. Turn onto Murray Circle and follow the signs that lead you to the rustic chic lodge. The Farley Bar is open daily at 11 a.m. and has both indoor and outdoor seating. Lounge in one of the comfy chairs outside and take in the view of the bridge and San Francisco. Order a bite off the menu — the coal roasted onion dip with housemade chips and steamed mussels with creamy sauvignon blanc sauce are personal favorites.
For your return to the Mandarin Oriental, cross back over the Golden Gate Bridge and take the first right exit toward Lincoln Boulevard and Marshall Beach. This time the view is of the boundless water. When Lincoln hits Washington, turn left and take a quick ride through the Presidio of San Francisco. Pass the pristine greens of the Presidio Golf Course and take Arguello Boulevard until it spills you out of the Presidio and onto Jackson Street. Now you’re in Pacific Heights where the homes are massive and tech billionaires and real estate magnates reside. Continue toward downtown on Jackson, passing Alta Plaza Park, then take a right onto Fillmore Street. You’ll pass plenty of shops and restaurants. If you have time and are still hungry, stop and grab a burger at Roam Artisan Burgers, the fast-casual spot that specializes in customizable burgers, addictive fries and creamy shakes (try the mint chip). Now that you’re stuffed, hop back in the Porsche and turn left onto Bush Street. Bush leads you all the way back downtown; when you hit Sansome Street, turn left and the hotel will be on your right. It will be hard to hand over the keys at the Porsche desk, but hopefully you’ll have plenty of photographs to remember the once-in-a-lifetime experience.