Thursday, June 23, 2016

San Francisco

San Francisco

Planning to travel to the Golden Gate City?  Here is a list of great ideas to see and do while you're there.

How to get around
San Francisco is unlike many American cities in that the public transportation system is both extensive, safe, and very reliable.  The trams are fun and eventually turn into a metro, their are also buses, and the old-time trams that still run in the city.  Additionally, you can find cabs without too much of a problem.  There are also a lot of places to park if you want to drive, but be prepared to pay tolls to enter the city by the bridges, or to spend  a lot of time hunting for parking during the day if you choose this route.

1.Golden Gate Bridge
You will probably want to check this landmark monument to engineering feats off your list when you visit San Francisco, but the biggest question is always where is the best place to visit the bridge?  And what should you know about visiting it?

Well first of all, keep in mind that traveling across the bridge from the city, you don't pay a toll.  You only pay a toll when you return to San Francisco heading South.  Wales has a similar pay one route into the small nation, their explanation?  You only pay for good things, so paying to enter Wales means it's better than England, the same explanation might be used for San Francisco?haha.

That being said there are many different ways to enjoy the bridge.  If you go during the summer expect Karl the fog, yep that's his name, to be there early in the morning and to come creeping back around 4 or 5.  This could ruin or make your pictures and your day on the bridge.  Sometimes, when there is a low fog, you get the amazing view of the bridge just peaking out over the tops.  Other times you may get unlucky to have a cold windy day with the entire bridge covered in fog.

The first and probably easiest way to see the bridge is to park on the side opposite of San Francisco, where the park is and then to walk around the park and across the bridge.  You will find multiple high top view points near Battery Spencer or Fort Baker, and also quite a few beaches on both sides to catch the bridge with the waves.  There are also a couple beaches on the San Francisco side if you want to view the bridge from that angle.

Golden Gate Bridge

2.Lombard Street
Lombard Street is known as the crookedest street in the world, and it really is quite the adventure to get down.  My recommendation is to visit the street at night, when parking is easy to find and the street is just as beautiful (if not more so from above).  If you really have to come during the day, however, be prepared to fight to find a parking spot, and to remember to always angle your tires when you've parked on a hill.  Best places to park are above the street, and in the surrounding area, but sometimes you can find things below the street, although I wouldn't try my luck during the daytime.

Lombard Street

Lombard Street to Coit Tower
Lombard Street with Coit Tower in the background

3.Embarcadero -> Pier 39
One of the streets that are the most fun to walk down.  You can walk from the old ferry building, which has now become a large and interesting market down to Pier 39, where you can catch a glimpse of the seals living in this strange combined eco-system.  If you prefer not to walk, you can also take one of the old San Francisco trams all the way down the strip and up all the way to Lombard Street if you would rather do public transportation.


This is also where you will find Ghirardelli Square and all the chocolate fantasies you can imagine, and a place you will make a beeline for if you're a chocolate lover.  I'd recommend getting a salted caramel hot chocolate, but...that's just me.

4.Mission District
San Francisco is well-known to be a place of extraordinary international cuisine, and the Mission District is a great place for any kinds of food and also a great bar scene.  Make sure to especially visit Valencia Street.

5.Golden Gate Park
This is one of the stranger, hidden treasures of San Francisco.  This is a huge park that is complete with a museum with glass viewpoints as well as a Japanese Tea Garden, where yes, you really can sit down and have a Japanese tea.

6.Palace of Fine Arts
A relic of the old World Fairs, this stands alongside of the Eiffel Tower as one of the great contributions to city monuments the fair created.  You'll most likely find a wedding or two or a Quinsenera going on when you go, but those definitely add to the feeling of this old, beautiful park.

Fine Arts Palace, San Francisco

Quinsenera, San Francisco

7.Sausalito Ferry
One of the more fun ways to see the Bay Area, this ferry will take you past many of the great islands like Alcatraz that add to the allure of San Francisco.

8.China Town or Japan Town
San Francisco is very famous for its large Asian population.  This last time I was there, I even saw many of the ads in the metro in both English and Mandarin.  China Town, therefore, becomes almost a must see if you've never been in San Francisco.  It really seems like you enter a different world along the beautiful, steep streets.  Additionally, there is a competing section, not nearly as large, but quite amazing in its own right that is Japan Town.  Both are worth visits and worth eating at or near.

China Town, San Francisco

9.Business District
Another one of the great parts of the city are the massive concrete towers reaching high into the sky.  If you're like me, and grew up in a small town, this is going to be one of your favorite parts about visiting big cities.  You feel the cool chill as the wind is tunneled through the seemingly tiny streets.  Additionally, in San Francisco, this is also where you'll find another large shop for Ghirardelli, where the lines are not nearly as long and the place is just as good if you prefer that route as well.

10.Point Reyes National Park
Initially, I was surprised at the size of Point Reyes.  I thought it was a small shoreline, but it is in fact a very large nature preserve, with lots to do from hiking in the park to whatever it is you do on beaches.  This probably shouldn't be at the top of your list if you're a first timer in San Francisco, but if you have time or have been to the city before, this can offer great views and a great respite from the city if you want to get away.

11.Coit Tower
Coit Tower is one of the most ingenious places in all of the city.  Built in the 30's this tower offers great views of the city itself, unlike some cities, where you can only take an elevator to the top of a skyscraper and then you are already on top of the greatest thing to see.  Instead, Coit Tower lets you view the entire city and the skyline.  It is located on another steep hill, and parking is hard to find on the way up.  You can park down low and hike to the top or do a multitude of other combinations as there is parking on the way up, but once again, don't expect to find a spot.

Coit Tower View

If you have any suggestions or would like to contribute click here to send me an email.  If you would like to sponsor my trip somewhere to showcase your business or to work with me please send me an email as well.

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