San Francisco holds a special place in my heart as Mr J proposed to me on Golden Gate Bridge and we’ve since been lucky enough to travel back a number of times to what has become one of my favourite cities in the States. There is so much to do in this North Californian city. I love it’s diversity, it’s vibrancy and the huge mixture of culture found from one neighbourhood to the next.
It’s pretty easy to navigate, if you don’t mind the odd hill (!!) and we usually spend days just wondering around shifting from Italy to China, vintage boho to city chic and then back to japan through touristy Fisherman’s Wharf. Although I would advise you stay clear of the Tenderloin, renowned for the intense homeless population, located just next to pricey Nob Hill and Union Square. I can’t rave enough about this city and I’ve not even begun to mention the famous sites such as the Painted Ladies (included in many a film, Mrs Doubtfire being my fave) Alcatraz or Golden Gate Bridge.
Be prepared for much walking and sore feet if you too like to get out and see all the city has to offer. If you’re short on time I’d recommend embracing the cheese and booking on for the city tour (hop on hop off bus) and add-on the Alcatraz trip too – although try to book the latter before you get here if poss as it books out quickly, especially in the summer.
My top 5 spots for a couple of days in San Fran;
Get out to the serenity within the busy city and enjoy one of the many parks San Fran has to offer. Golden Gate park with its authentic Japanese Tea Garden and beautiful conservatory of flowers and darling rose garden is not to be missed, or Presidio with fabulous views of the iconic bridge. If driving take a drive around Lincoln Blvd for stunning views of the city and bridge.
Pure cheese along the main drag with far too many tourist tat shops, but there’s more to it than just downtown Jefferson St. Take a walk from Fort Mason along the sea front with the bridge in your shadow and Alcatraz in your sights. There’s a great farmers market on a Sunday which you can eat your way around before coming back out to work it off up Hyde street hill for more great views over the city before reaching famous Ghiradelli Sq and the beautiful red brick Cannery with lots of eateries. The other end of Embarcadero holds famous Pier 39, great for children and big kids alike, don’t forget to visit it’s infamous sea lions sunbathing alongside the pier. (Pier 35 for Alcatraz is located further along from Pier 39)
Cable car and “Crookedest Street”;
If the extremely steep hills aren’t for you (not sure of my facts but I’m pretty sure they must be some of the steepest in the world?!) then hop on one of the vintage cable cars which run around sections of the city. California Street being a serious contender for the toughest and makes for a great photo from the bottom. Along Lombard street at the corner of Hyde you can find the most crooked street in the world also found in a couple of films (Herbie!) also a brilliant photo opportunity. (Please note lack of photo this time around!)
I’m pretty sure there’s some sort of claim to this being the biggest Chinatown outside of China…forgive me for my lack of actual factual here but regardless, it’s pretty cool to take a walk around, be grossed out by the many deep fried insects, look at the insane ivory sculptures and appreciate the authentic architecture.
I love wondering up, around and down Haight St and people watching, strolling into the many vintage stores or having a coffee at one of the funky gluten free, soy, earthy coffee shops. By night find your way to a cool wine bar to while away the evening listening to jazz or an acoustic guitar.
We loved showing Henry all of the sites and it was so easy having him with us, as usual he made friends with every passerby and all restaurants were very accommodating to us.
It’s so hard to limit myself to just 5 spots not to miss, so please get in touch if you want any other info not listed but this should start you off at least…
…if shopping is more your thing, then head to the exclusive high end stores on Post and Geary along Grant Ave to drool over the likes of Hermes and Tory Burch before heading to Westfield for highstreet stores to buy something you can actually afford 😉 finish up with a trip to the top of Macy’s for a slice of Cheesecake Factory happiness!
I hope you enjoy yourself in Fog City!