In the words of Tony Bennett – I left my heart in San Francisco. I really did. In 2013 I did a mini tour of the west coast of America, some places were incredible and other places not so much ( Hollywood, I’m looking at you) but the one place I still talk about to this day is San Francisco. You know that place you visit and you immediately know you could live there happily ever after? That is what San Francisco is for me.
I only spent three days there as part of my trip, but in that time we did so much and here is my list things I personally recommend you do if you visit.
- Visit Ashbury and Haight
Birthplace of America’s counter-culture, this area of the city has the complete laid back 60’s hippie vibe. Beautiful street art, boutique clothes stores, an abundance of tattoo studios, and for amazing burritos visit Zona Rosa at 1797 Haight street. I actually got my second tattoo done while visiting here on a complete whim.
- Explore Sausalito
This is where I would buy a house if I won the lottery. Sausalito is located across the Golden Gate bridge, it is an incredibly rich but incredibly beautiful area and well worth a walk around. You can also sit four hours along the docks and see the amazing city skyline. Fun fact: Otis Reading was on a house boat in Sausalito while writing the brilliant song ‘ Sitting on the dock of the bay’
- Visit the Painted Ladies
Located in Alamo Square are the famous Painted Ladies, a row of brightly coloured Victorian houses that have been seen in many films and TV shows. It might not sound like much, but it is just one of those things you have to do while in San Francisco. Also located in that area is the house made famous by the incredible film ‘Mrs Doubtfire’ now littered with tributes to the late and great Robin Williams.
- Golden Gate Bridge
An obvious one, but don’t just admire from afar. You really do not understand how impress this bridge is until you are there. When we went we actually drove across but if I went again I would make the effort to walk the distance and really take it all in.
- Hop-on-hop-off bus
San Francisco is a big city with a lot of hills. I would full recommend using a bus tour to get around, we used The Big Bus Tour and they were great. They have multiple routes that cross over around the city and you can get off or on at any stop, and then pick another bus up at a later time. It is the easiest way to get around while still have the option to get off and explore certain points, also every tour guide we had was so informative and happy to help. They also run a twilight route, where you can sit on the open deck and just watch the city by night, they even provide blankets.
Book in advance, they only run a certain number of trips a day and funnily enough it is pretty popular. Also don’t get caught out by just buying the boat ride that takes you around Alcatraz Island, ensure it is combined with the tour ticket. You can spend a whole morning or afternoon at Alcatraz so make sure you set aside enough time, it is a must when visiting San Francisco.
- Eat at In and Out burger
In fact do this wherever you are on the West Coast, as much as you can. Yum.
- Union Square
Every shop you could ever want is located here, there is also the mother of all Forever 21’s. Most tour buses have a route that will take you here, if not there are cable cars that can drop you off right outside the major mall. There are also plenty of places to eat around this area.
- Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf
The polar opposite of Union Square, Fisherman’s wharf has more relaxed old-time american feel. There are so many bars and restaurants in this area, it is the perfect place to spend the evenings and here you can also try the famous ‘clam chowder’. If you follow the piers down to number 39 you will find the famous sea lion’s of San Francisco. Top Tip: Visit at the start of May to join in the amazing ‘Cinco de Mayo’ celebrations.
What is your favourite thing to do or see in San Francisco?