San Francisco, USA
I am one of those people that just loves San Francisco. From catching a cable car to watching a basketball game, San Francisco has so many exciting things to do and so many great places to explore. So here are my ten things to tick off your bucket list in San Francisco.
Things to know before you go
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With the rainy season falling December to February and with the driest months being May to September, San Francisco can be cooler than other places on the coast of California.
Hilton Union Square
You can not fault the Hilton Union Square for its location, right downtown, walking distance to catching the cable car and many other significant points of interest. Although the hotel was clean, the lobby was huge, which made it noisy at all times of the day and night.
Hyatt Centric Fishermans Wharf
The Hyatt Centric Fishermans Wharf is an ideal location for this part of San Francisco. The hotel is lovely and spacious with a sensational view, and it is walking distance to Alcatraz Departure point. There are many attractions in and around this area, so it is excellent for families who require lots of activities.
Who doesn’t love of old-world romance? The Palace Hotel is the oldest hotel in San Francisco, so you do feel like you have stepped back in time with its luxurious interior, large indoor pool and an extensive list of famous guests, this hotel is excellent for a little splurge.
Things to do
1 Ride the cable car
You can not go to San Francisco without riding the iconic cable cars. Catching it from Union Square down to fisherman’s wharf or vice versa is all you need to get that Cable car fix. However, if you are like me and love the energy and entertainment of the conductor, then you will find yourself riding it again and again. Whether you choose to hang off the side or sit inside, the experience is worth the ride from all angles. Be warned that if you go at peak hour, the lines are long (especially coming from Union Square in the morning).
2.Cross the golden gate bridge
Whether you choose to drive across it or walk or bike across it, you must get yourself to the other side of this incredible bridge. Hiring a bike is easy, head to one of the many bike rental stores dotted in and around Fishermans Wharf and hire a bike for a few hours. Remember to take a jacket because crossing the bridge (even in Summer) can be windy. So check the weather report before you go!
3.Explore Fishermans Wharf
Fishermans Wharf is buzzing with entertainment, with local buskers, music playing and loads of people in and around this area. Check out the local Sea Lions usually spotted along Pier 39, these gorgeous animals are sunning themselves on the rocks around this area.
4.Watch the Golden Gate Warriors play
Whether you are a fan of basketball or not, the atmosphere and entertainment are worth the experience. With the Chase Centre now their new home, there is no excuse. The tickets can be expensive, but if you are like me and don’t mind sitting in the nose bleed section, then you will enjoy every minute of it.
5. Try Clam chowder
For me, a trip isn’t a trip without trying the cuisine! Although you could probably find better places to eat this dish, we chose the iconic Tarantino’s restaurant that has been serving customers since it opened its doors in 1946. You can choose to dine upstairs in the restaurant or downstairs in the sidewalk cafe, but if you want to grab and go, then the crab stand is a must.
6 Have lunch at the Barrel House Tavern in Sausalito
This little town is something that has jumped straight out of a movie screen. Or perhaps the making of a song like “(Sittin’ on the) The Dock of the Bay”. Sausalito is a quaint little town full of boutique shops and gorgeous looking waterfront restaurants. So after having a wander through these charming streets and checking out the fantastic view. Head over to Barrel House Tavern for a delicious lunch with a fantastic view.
7 Have a glass of bubbly at the top of the Marriott Marquis
Why not stop by for a drink and enjoy a fantastic view in the meantime? The view lounge (rightly named by the way) has a 360-degree view of the incredible skyline of San Francisco. You will find the San Francisco Marriott Marquis at 780 Mission Street. You will not be disappointed with the view!
8 Go Op shopping in Haight-Ashbury
For some, you may call it thrift shops, but for the purpose of this post, let’s say, let’s go vintage shopping! Haight-Ashbury is known for its hippyish feel, and they are not wrong. From bell-bottom pants, long shoulder length hair to the odd whiff of marijuana, you could be mistaken by thinking you have been teleported back to the ’70s. It is a fab place, definitely worth a visit.
9 Be inspired by Mario Puzo and write your own (Godfather) novel
Sit and have lunch at the Caffe Trieste where you can drink plenty of coffees. The Caffee Trieste was the first espresso cafe on the west coast and remains busy to this day. Sip on your cappuccino and be inspired by the many photos around the wall. You may recognise this Caffee Trieste from its many appearances in movies, tv shows and magazines, so sit back, relax and enjoy the hustle and bustle that this cafe has to offer.
10 Dip your feet in the ocean at Ocean beach
Yes! It is true; the water is like ice. Due to the fog, caused by icy Pacific water reaching warmer air, this area often causes a chilly ocean breeze. Dipping your feet is all I recommend because not only is Ocean beach water freezing, it also has strong currents, so it makes swimming dangerous. You will find Ocean beach adjacent to the Golden Gate Bridge, a short distance away in the Richmond area.
11 Take a trip to Alcatraz during the day or night
For me, Alcatraz during the day was creepy enough, but going when the sun goes down, I would imagine it would be an entirely different level of eerieness. But if you are up for the challenge book your evening tour online well in advance because bookings fill up quicker than you can imagine. I would highly recommend booking early for the day tour also unless you want to book a tour that also includes Alcatraz and ends up costing you a small fortune (Yes, a rookie mistake I know).
12 Visit the worlds most crooked street
Lombard Street is famous for just that, being crooked. You can walk beside it, drive down it or admire it from the top or bottom; you can experience this weird and wonderful street anyway you like. There have always been many tourists taking photos of this street every time I have visited it, and once you are there, you can see why.
13 Walk the self-guided famous house route
We all love a tv sitcom especially such shows as “full house“! So why not walk (or drive) the many famous houses that featured in movies such as “Mrs Doubtfire ” and “Pacific Heights”. Or perhaps wander along and view the homes that celebrities past and present have owned.
14 Visit the oldest Chinatown in the US
First established back in 1853 and later named Chinatown by the press. Chinatown has everything you could imagine in it from trinkets to restaurants and from fresh local produce to massage shops. It is a mini version (and somewhat westernised) version of what you would find in the streets of China.
15 Visit Muir Woods and measure yourself against the Redwood trees
The Redwood trees are native to California and can a short distance away from San Francisco in Muir Woods. There is a display of the different types of Redwood trees here, which is impressive. The Redwood trees are enormous with the tallest one reaching to the heights of 258 feet (79 m).
16 Try an in-out burger in San Francisco
You can try an in-out burger almost anywhere in the Us, however, if you haven’t already, then why not start here. The lines are long, however, are they worth it? Well, I will let you be the verdict on this one.
17 Order a “Joe’s special” at “The Original Joe’s”
Although the area of North Beach is informally known as Little Italy, this can be somewhat confusing. Why? Because North beach was once a fishing village with many Italian immigrants, today the shoreline has extended so this area has no beach in sight, what it still has though is an Italian feel. Why not stop by and try one of the many Italian cafes, restaurants or delicatessens! While you are here, book into “The original Joe’s” and order a “Joe’s special” and while you are there try the lasagne you won’t regret it.
18 Take a trip down memory lane and visit Joe DiMaggio’s beloved San Francisco
St Peters and Pauls Church is where he married his first wife, took photos in front of the church with his second wife (Marilyn Munroe) and later had his funeral. Go inside this beautiful church and enjoy its serenity. The DiMaggio family lived in walking distance at 2047 Taylor St in a small unit, and the North Beach playground (renamed Joe DiMaggio playground) is where he and his brothers were seen playing hours of baseball as kids.
19 Be inspired by google
Take a tour to Silicon Valley where you get the opportunity to see the google campus (and yes, it is impressive), take a photo of the iconic “Facebook” logo and tour downtown Palo Alto where you bring out your inner techy! Visit b8ta, where you have the opportunity to try out the latest inventions from start-up companies. Purchasing their products is an excellent start to getting their gadgets on the market, a cool concept with great incentives. This tour would not be complete without a stop at the Computer History Museum where technology began to where it is now.
20 Take a ride on the “hop-on, hop-off” bus
Taking the hop on hop off bus, in any city is a great way to get your bearings. It allows you to get an understanding where all of the locations are that you will eventually want to explore. It also gives you the highlighted version of places that you might not want to venture out to visit but wanted to drive passed.
I could seriously have written a million other locations and things to do, and I found it hard to concentrate on just 20 because San Francisco is an exciting city that has so many places to explore!