San Francisco is one of my favourite cities in the States. It has so much character and it is jam packed with things to do and to see.
Both times I have been in San Francisco I have gone on the Big Bus Tour, not only is it a really easy and scenic way to get around the city and get to the main attractions, you also learn some cool facts and history about the place. I know super touristy but the hop on hop off service is perfect for people wanting to cover a large amount of ground in a short space of time. Big Bus Tours are available in loads of cities and you can find out more on their website here. The bus brings you to the city’s key attractions, here is what you have to see at some of the stops, whether you decide to go on the bus or not;
1. Fisherman’s wharf – Pier 39 is a must, although some people might think it is a ‘tourist trap’, it is actually a really cool area. It almost reminds me of some type of theme park/carnival. The place is filled with ice-cream parlours, touristy merchandise shops, candy shops, some cute cafés and some restaurants. It might sound super over the top but it is actually really cool to see and have a walk through. Not to forget the best part, there are usually close to 30 seals that sunbathe on the floats in the harbour next to pier 39.
- Boudin bakery – While you are down in Fisherman’s wharf you have to visit this place. This huge bakery is famous for their sour dough bread, you will smell this place from down the street. You have to try their bread bowls, they take one of their sourdough loaves and cut the middle out and fill it with either Chilli or Seafood Chowder (I preferred the Chilli). Watch out for the seagulls with the remains of your bowls.
2. Far side of Golden Gate Bridge – The bus will bring you to a car park just across The Golden Gate Bridge, or similarly later on in this article I mention renting bikes that you could cycle to the other side of the bridge either. In this car park just across the bridge there is a shuttle bus that brings you down to a little town called Sausalito and back. Sausalito is gorgeous and is always 3-4 degrees warmer, it feels like you are jumping into a different country. Sausalito is a lot smaller and feels more European than Northern American.
3. Union Square – I suppose Union Square is the ‘centre’ of San Francisco. This is where you will find all of the shops and big department stores. I didn’t spend much time in this area but if you are in the mood to shop there seemed to be a good selection of stores. There is a little park in the middle of the square which is really nice for having your coffee in.
4. Haight-Ashbury – This neighbourhood is the ‘Hippie’ area in San Francisco and it is one of the stops on the Big Bus Tour. Here you will find some cool artsy coffee shops, restaurants and vintage boutiques. Some of Netflix new series ‘Girl Boss’ is filmed here.
1. Alcatraz – Alcatraz, the infamous and notorious former federal prison, located 1.25km from the San Francisco shore is definitely worth a visit. You can get the boat (not very pleasant on a bad day) over to Alcatraz just a few piers down from pier 39. I would recommend booking in advance if you are going to go during peak season and I would also advise you to watch the movie ‘Escape From Alcatraz’ before you go.
2. Rent Bikes – We rented bikes in Fishermans wharf and cycled along the Bay to the Golden Gate Bridge, it is a really stunning cycle with only one steep hill on the way there. If you continue along the trail you will come to the area where you get the ‘famous’ picture with the Golden Gate Bridge over your shoulder.
1. Tony’s Pizzeria – Oh My Lanta… I am going to come out with a huge statement and say that my meal at Tony’s Pizzeria was the best I have ever had. It is a must when in San Francisco. However, it’s an extremely popular spot, we had to wait for a table and we were there only 5 minutes after it had opened for lunch.
2. The Original Ghirardelli Ice-Cream and Chocolate Shop – Go and get yourself an ice-cream sundae in chocolate heaven, you will have to wait to get in so bring an umbrella! You order at the door and then sit down, it is quite an efficient system and they don’t expect you to be sitting around for hours. I loved the Sea Salt Caramel Sundae.
These activities and food places are just the tip of the ice berg, San Francisco has so much to offer and is a truly fantastic city (apart from the cold). If you are heading to the West coast it is a must and I guarantee you will love it. Hop you enjoyed this post and don’t forget to subscribe to emails below. See you in the next one.
The Girl on the Go xx