A Guide to Wellness Travel in San Francisco

Looking for restaurants and hotels as a wellness traveler in this city? Look no further

Explore the best places to load up on carbs and stay overnight in San Francisco for wellness travelers.

Trying to find a hotel when you’re in a city to run a half marathon is a tricky thing. I should know, seeing as how I was just in San Francisco to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. Since the race started in Union Square (at 6 a.m., no less), I wanted a hotel close by so I could hop out of bed and be at the finish line. I found that, and more, waiting for me at the Marriott Marquis Union Square.

The hotel stands out as a luxurious but modern option in an area that’s known for historical — but slightly stuffy — hotels. I immediately took to the large lobby decked out with modern art. The recently opened Fleet Feet on the ground floor was hosting a pre-race party complete with Champagne, racing gear, and even a background where runners could snap photos. This intentional collaboration is part of the hotel and its parent company’s dedication to catering to healthy-minded travelers.

Wellness travel is growing “at nearly twice the rate of total worldwide tourism,” according to a 2013 study released by Global Wellness Tourism Congress, and hotels like the Marriott Marquis have taken note.

“Fleet Feet offers everything from ‘fun runs’ to... all things today's road warrior craves, and we plan to make all those benefits available to our guests,” says Chuck Pacioni, general manager of the hotel. He maintains the hotel is committed to guest satisfaction “whether it is working on the perfect bedding for a great night’s sleep or healthy menu items in our restaurants and lounges. Our guests want to maintain their active lifestyle they have at home… We are their home away from home… This partnership helps us provide that and makes the Marquis unique in meeting those needs in the city."

Fleet Feet is just one part of the hotel’s wellness initiative. The ground-level Mission Street Pantry offers small bites, coffee from Peet’s, and mostly local snacks like Sonoma, California-based turkey jerky Krave. The property is also slated to open a renovated, two-story health club in January.

But you can’t run a race without carbo-loading before it. And I had my fill at The View Lounge, the shining culinary star of this hotel. As the name suggests, expect stunning city vistas from each and every angle here. You’ll take in water, mountain, and skyscraper views as you dine on small plates and sip specialty cocktails.

“Our menus are reflective of the neighborhoods and culture of [San Francisco] where I grew up,” said David Hollands, executive chef at The View. “It may seem like a lot, but the city and food of the city blend well. We look at what customers are saying, what's working that we want to cook, and what is cool and different but still approachable by varying guests.”

The menu changes seasonally, but when I dined at the restaurant in October, I was struck by how fresh everything tasted. The simple bread and cheese plate made for a just-filling-enough appetizer. My favorite was probably the tuna poke, which was drizzled with just the right amount of sauce. Desserts included classic options like vanilla crème brûlée and decadent chocolate cake. This was an ideal spot to start my culinary adventure in the City by the Bay since it provided just the right amount of food. And that was just the start of my carb-fueled fest. Here are some other quality spots in the city where you can load up on carbohydrates.

The Melt

Within walking distance of the Marriott lies The Melt. It’s famous for its grilled cheese, and anything with cheese (melted, of course) at this spot is a good bet. I personally loved the rich and creamy mac and cheese and the classic grilled cheese sandwich here. The Naked Fries here are also a standout item. I appreciated the light seasoning and how fresh these were. I actually devoured the entire batch when I was walking back to my hotel. I ate here before race day, and it was the perfect place to load up before running 13.1 miles. Pair your main dish with a decadent milkshake or chocolate chip cookie if you need even more calories.

Ramen Underground

No trip to San Francisco would be complete without Asian cuisine, and you might as well try some ramen from this notable spot. I headed to this place with a friend of mine post-race day, and the food ended up being a perfect remedy. The broth here is what really makes this place special. It’s filling, warming, and seasoned just right.

Roam Artisan Burgers

So, this place isn’t really within walking distance of the hotel, but it’s a short bus ride away to its rustic chic outpost on Union Street. Plus, you’ll want to travel for some of the best burgers in the city. The beef here is 100 percent grass-fed, and the difference is in the taste. Expect a juicy patty that goes down smooth. The bison here is also noteworthy, if you’d like a slightly higher quality cut of meat. My favorite option was the texture-rich French and Fries — a burger topped with truffle Parmesan fries, Gruyère, avocado, caramelized onions, watercress, and Dijon mustard. Although that is a long list of ingredients, it came together well with each bite providing texture and plenty of flavor without being overwhelming. I also appreciated the Tejano burger — pepper jack cheese, jalapeño relish, avocado, tomato, white corn strips, and herb ranch — for its nice spicy crunch. Pair your burger with fries dusted with truffle Parmesan if you want it heavy, or enjoy the lighter zucchini option. Milkshakes made with organic ice cream are also good choices here.


From the gorgeous city sites that I saw as I ran by to the carb-heavy and delicious food offerings, San Francisco really was the perfect city for me to run my first half marathon in.