Thursday, 2 July 2015

Top Things To Do In San Francisco

San Francisco is one of those places that is on almost everyone's bucket list.  A city of just over 830,000 people it has almost a village feel being made up of separate areas such as Fisherman's Wharf, Nob Hill, Chinatown and Haight Ashbury. San Francisco's population is cosmopolitan, and that reflects in the cuisine, it is a great place to visit if you are a foodie, as there are over 4000 eating establishments, from Michelin star restaurants, to cafes and food trucks.

Fisherman's Wharf



On our recent visit we based ourselves in Fishermans' Wharf.  Fisherman's Wharf is home to Pier 39, a waterfront marketplace and one of the city's most popular attractions. From here you can see the famous sea lions that have taken up residence here, visit the San Francisco dungeon, Ripleys Believe It Or Not and Madam Tussards as well as shop and eat in one of the many cafes and restaurants. 




We decided to visit Madam Tussards. The last time I went was to the London branch many years ago, so I was amazed at how good the models are these days and pleasantly surprised with the interactive element - you can be a knife wielding maniac from Psycho, jump onboard a bike with E.T or cuddle up to George Clooney on a sofa. Go late in the evening and you could have it almost to yourself like we did!

Fisherman's Wharf is a great area for food with a view. I can highly recommend Fog Harbour restaurant, which specialises in seafood. We had amazing cocktails overlooking the bay and my lobster was fabulous too.

While you are here what about trying the New England clam chowder served in a sour dough bread bowl? There are many places you can try this along Fisherman's Wharf, we ate ours at Pier Market. Doesn't it look delicious?


The tourist shops are fun, and better than most in this type of area. Quality leather goods, sweet shops, T shirts and Alcatraz souvenirs can be bought here.

Alcatraz




A visit to San Francisco is not complete without visiting Alcatraz. The notorious former prison set on an island in the middle of the bay, held some of the most famous prisoners in the area, including Al Capone and Robert Stroud - the 'Birdman of Alcatraz'. Although several tried no inmate ever made a successful escape from 'The Rock'. Closed in the 1960's it is a must do when you are in San Francisco.


To visit take the short ferry trip and while you are there do the free audio tour which is narrated by former guards and prisoners. A fantastic insight into life in this notorious prison. Whilst you are here, stop by the gift shop and get a replica key to a cell, or a copy of the inmate rules.



Chinatown




San Francisco has the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. We walked to it through a tunnel and on the other side was like a whole new world. Full of food markets, Asian shops, renowned restaurants and even a fortune cookie factory, a stop here is interesting and recommended.

Union Square



The city's shopping district, and a shoppers paradise, all your major shops are here such and it is home to Tiffany, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's.  We had brunch in The Cheesecake Factory on the top of Macy's and the food was tasty and well priced. The vast array of cheesecakes are a sight to behold but unfortunately we didn't have room - maybe next time.

Cable Cars



The San Francisco cable car system is the world's last manually operated cable car system. Take a ride in a cable car up and down the steep roads. It's a fun way to visit the city. Do like the locals do and stand on the side whilst hanging on tightly! Journeys are $6 each or buy a City Pass which included other attractions and you get 7 days use of the Muni and cable car routes included. 

Lombard Street





This twisting road has to be seen to be believed. It is famous for its eight hairpin turns and is said to be the most crooked street in the World and is a must see when you visit the city. It was designed like this in the 1920's to allow traffic to descend the steep incline safely.


The Golden Gate Bridge

This iconic bridge, one of the most famous in the World, is a must see in San Francisco. A pedestrian walkway allows you to cross on foot and a bicycle route also allows you to cross on a bike if you like. Often shrouded in fog it is said the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most photographed things on Earth.




Top Tips


Take warm clothes even in the summer. San Francisco can be windy and cold, especially when the fog descends, and it was colder than the UK when we were there.

Book Alcatraz up to three months in advance, tickets can be sold out if you don't.

The Palace Of Fine Arts is a beautiful place to visit in the Marina District, surrounded by affluent homes and a small lake, take a stroll around the corner to find a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

We missed out on a trip to Haight Ashbury as we didn't have time, but wished we had seen the birthplace of America's counter-culture, from the Summer of Love in 1967, the birthplace of the hippies.

The Hop On Hop Off bus tour is the official city sightseeing tour and is fun and informative. Tour guides tell you about San Francisco history and it is a great way to see the city. On a nice day sit up top but make sure you take the suncream and a hat if its hot or a warm top if cold, you can never tell in San Francisco!

This is just a taster of our time in San Francisco. There is so much more to do and explore. Tell me have you been to San Francisco?

You can read more about my California and Vegas road trip below.

A Weekend In Napa Valley
San Diego In 48 Hours

* I was given complimentary tickets to a number of the attractions mentioned by the San Francisco tourist board.


Dragons and Fairy Dust
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34 comments

  1. Your trip has made me so excited. Thanks for the weather tip we are visiting next month. Hubby will definitely want a trip to the cheesecake factory

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    1. We couldn't believe how cold it was in June!

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    2. We were there 1st to 14th June, in the Marina District - second week had 6 days constant foghorns on the bridge. Usually not much fog that time of year. It was our 6th visit at that time so we should know! Locals have a saying "One of the coldest winters I've ever lived through was one summer in San Francisco!"
      You can also explore Golden Gate Park (especially the Japanese Tea Gardens) & The Presidio, The Warming Hut, visit Muir Woods, Cable Car Museum, Wells Fargo Museum (ask to use the loos while your in there... ;) ) Chinatown, Japan Town, eat at Il Polllaio in Little Italy (fab chicken) and The Home Plate in the Marina District (fab breakfast/brunch) etc etc etc....

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    3. It's a fabulous place William. I agree with the quote, it was freezing lol. Thanks for the recommendations of what to do. I really need to go back and explore more.

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  2. San Francisco looks like an amazing place to visit, I like that it has similar weather to the UK. I would love to see the Golden Gate Bridge for real.

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    1. It was hard to get a good photo as it always seems shrouded in fog.

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  3. I did all these things when I visited a few years ago - you're right, they're all great ways to experience the city. Clam chowder in sourdough is to die for!

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    1. San Francisco is an amazing foodie city.

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  4. Oh wow. This is somewhere I have always wanted to visit. We are currently saving up to take the boys to the US

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    1. Hope you get the chance to visit one day Jen.

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  5. I would love to go to San Fran and visit Alcatraz. My brother went a few years ago and loved it to the point I heard about it non stop for weeks after!

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    1. Alcatraz is really interesting. You have to go one day Carly.

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  6. Yup, definitely on my bucket list! I am really hoping we get to do my 40th birthday road trip as this is a place that is on it!! Great list! x

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    1. I am writing about my road trip, this was the start of it Michelle!

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  7. Oh your photos really bring the place alive. I love that food is SUCH an important aspect of any destination. x

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    1. I am so glad you love my photos. Food is definitely an important aspect of a holiday to me.

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  8. So many lovely places to visit - one day we'll make it there.

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    1. I hope you get the chance one day Erica.

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  9. I'd love to visit one day, it looks like an amazing place xx

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    1. It has many different parts, almost like a number of little villages in one big city.

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  10. Chowder in a sour dough bread bowl? Dude! I gotta have it! I just gotta!!

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    1. Ha! You will love San Francisco if you love good food Ryan. It's a foodies paradise.

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  11. OOh it looks and sounds wonderful, I love the idea of the Bread Bowl x

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    1. It's a very interesting city, so much to do and see.

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  12. Lovely post, I visited Alcatraz too and thought it was amazing, I did a post over on my blog.
    Wish I could have explored San Fran a bit more!

    Christie x
    http://christieslifestyle.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/alcatraz-island.html

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    1. You need weeks to explore San Francisco properly, wish I had more time too.

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  13. I was really disappointed that we didn't see San Francisco when we went to California, would love to go as it looks beautiful

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    1. It is a lovely city Kara, hope you can visit one day.

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  14. The Bay Area is one of my desired destinations - though I am not sure my tour of all the related punk haunts would be top of mist peoples lists!

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    1. San Francisco has so much to do for everyone, I am sure you will enjoy visiting the punk haunts.

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  15. Sadly I can't eat clam chowder, I love it but clams make me ill. I remember visiting these places, San Francisco is fab. Thanks for linking to #outandabout

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  16. I fell in love with San Francisco when we stopped there for two nights on our Wild West Motorcycle Tour last summer. A fab place with so much going on. It was a busy 36 hours! We're planning to go back next summer.

    http://splodzblogz.co.uk/2014/11/22/one-day-in-san-francisco-wild-west-part-six/

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    1. I will have a read Zoe. Thanks for leaving your link. San Francisco is a cool place!

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