Okay, for starters, I have been to San Fransisco about 4 times and still feel like there is so much to see. But if you're planning a short trip you can still squeeze in a LOT and not feel pressed for time. All the while, walking the line of being a tourist, but not an annoying one. Of course.
Start off with a trip to Land's End, aka "Sutro Baths"
If you're driving there is ample parking and you should be able to find something easily.
You could also Uber here as you are still right in the city.
I would rate this stop a 6/10.
Really beautiful scenery, great if you want to see the beach but.... SF's notoriously cold weather kicked our butts and between that and the hike up, we all but fell in the ocean.
If the weather is nice, I say, go for it!
While you're there, take your camera out and try to catch some pictures of the birds flying.
There are also some concrete barriers that make for a cool photo.
But watch your balance, cause that water is cold!
Next Stop: We headed toward the Golden Gate Park in search of a Meal. We ended up at a restaurant in Height-Ashbury area anticipating our next stop.
Once you're done with lunch, head over to the Painted Ladies. These are the well known houses from “Full House”, even if you're not a fan, it is worth a stop.
San Francisco stands out from other cities because of its unique style of architecture, and while you will see these “Stick” style houses around the city, this is one of your prime examples. This stop makes for a great photo op as all these homes have been maintained in perfect quality. Plus on the other side of the street theres a nice park that keeps the amount of people swarming to it under control. Again a classic tourist spot, but you can keep it low key.
You can read more about the San Francisco architecture in the article below.
For the perfect photo, take a seat on one of the park benches and shoot from behind (see photo)
Well if you're planning a trip to SF you probably already know that the hotel is going to cost you. (at least you don't have to pay rent there)
Make sure you're getting a good deal by factoring in location and parking. You will see some good deals, but if you are paying for parking it can add up to $60 a day. As far as location remember that San Francisco is not a large area and an uber or taxi wont cost you too much but being walking distance is always nice.
On this trip we stayed at the Beresford Arms, Located a few blocks away from Union Square. Awesome older building with history at a moderate price.
Parking will set you back $40 a night, but not a bad price, comparatively, and it is valet!
They also offer a wine and cheese hour as well as breakfast. So if you want to feel like you're living back in the 1900’s and just altogether classy, I would highly recommend it.
Service and room were both great and I would definitely stay again.
Also right by our hotel we found a delicious Thai food place, there were actually about 4 Thai food places near our hotel, which is how I knew I made a good choice on the hotel. ( I love Thai) We stopped by Thai Stick and ordered the Yellow Chicken Curry, it was pretty good curry and super convenient. Also they had mango sticky rice, which is always a good sign at a Thai restaurant. We ended up seeing another location in the city as well, so if you stumble across one you might want to stop by.
We got into the city on a Friday so we made plans to go out to a few bars. After reading about a quite a few neighborhoods we decided to head over to the Mission District.
It is a fun neighborhood, we met a lot of locals which made me think it was a good choice. Most bars were pretty packed but it was Cinco de Mayo… so as long as you're not adverse to squeezing past people to order a drink you should have a good time.
I don’t recall the names of all the bars but we started at “Elixir” with $8 whiskey gingers, which seemed to be a pretty average cost for a well cocktail. Can’t complain. Once you find the general area head outside and walk around, you're bound to run into a few other bars and there was dancing happening in some of them as well. It was about 9$ to take an uber from here back to Union Square area.
Here is a good article to see what neighborhood would best suit your "night out" criteria.
We took it slow Saturday morning, Grabbed breakfast at our hotel and headed over to “The Palace of Fine Arts”. This is a perfect place to pack up breakfast or lunch, bring a blanket and just relax. (Again, weather permitting) Regardless, stop by and see the park. The water features swans and turtles swimming around and you can make a loop through the huge arches. This is one of my personal favorite places in SF. Also if you're driving, parking is pretty easy and you should be able to find something nearby.
When you're done walking around you can walk right over to the coast and check out a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
We headed over to Mission Hill area to Grab food. Found a YUM Italian place, with really good pizza (including gluten free). And small detail, but they all spoke Italian which is always a plus. Super nice restaurant right on Colombus street, and again we had no problem parking.
If you're not in the mood for pizza there are a bunch of other restaurants in the area.
After we ate way too much pizza we started our walk to Lombard street. From columbus street you are about 10 minute walk.
The thing Maps doesn't tell you is that its 100% up hill.
We definitely worked off that pizza. At the top of the hill you will see the famous Lombard street, and probably a group of tourists standing nearby.
If you never been to SF then Lombard is worth a stop, and if you've seen it before theres still some pretty good views from Mission Hill. Also because there are so many people blocking the road you can go ahead and sit in the middle of the road for a photo op, which is a lot cooler than trying to fit yourself into a Lombard street photo.
Worth the stop if you are in the area, but I wouldn't go out of your way.
If you do decide to make the hike, on the way back down there are some wine bars, and you're going to be happy about it.
We recovered from our hike ( I am being dramatic, it's not that bad) and headed to our next activity. This one I planned ahead of time, but it is worth the effort I assure you.
We scheduled a sailing trip with AdventureCat Sailing, through Viator.
I am a avid fan of Viator, I have used it in 8 different countries and they always do a good job!
Here is the link :
Another great part of this tour is that it sets sail from Pier 39, so you can show up a little early and check out the sights and say hello to the famous sea lions, you actually get an up close view of them as you head out of the dock too. We had a glass of wine before our sail time, but you could also plan dinner at Pier 39 too.
The pier is definitely bringing in the tourists so if you want to save money or avoid a tourist trap, find another spot.
I didn't have any plans to see Pier 39 on this trip so stopping by was just a pleasant addition and another check off the list of tourist stops.
Also they had a great soundtrack going.
Relax level 100.
Lay down and relax on a sailboat as your cruise under the Golden Gate bridge. I seriously might do this every time I come back to SF. And the best part is that it will only cost you $40. So worth every penny.
Take my word for it, this is an SF must, you will also walk away with some of the coolest photos of the bridge, city and Alcatraz.
Adventure Cat did a great job and there were only about 20 people on the boat making it feel as relaxed as sailing should be.
After our two hour sailing trip we headed back to the Union Square area and found some food and drinks!
It is a pricey area, so if you're trying to save you might want to pick another spot.
We weren't super hungry so we settled for a few bars around the area and stopped into one for Jazz night.
One of our last stops on this trip was the also one of the best ! If you're in SF you need to go to Battery Spencer!
I mean, the view is self explainable. You can head up to this lookout at any time of day but I think its best at night.
If you have a camera besides your phone, now would be the time to break it out.
You are also going to need a tripod to capture this view best. ( I will be posting a tutorial on how best to capture night landscapes later, stay tuned)
If you are planning a trip to this lookout prepare yourself for a bit of a hike! The parking lot up top is closed down and you will have to park at the bottom and hike up. Good news is that you will only have to walk 1/2 a mile but the bad news is that it is uphill (of course it is).
Prepare better than me, with my high heel boots, and you will be fine!
Finish your night off right with a post hike donut at Bob's Donuts.
If you go to SF and don't make a trip to Bob's you are missing out!! And I'm sure you wondering why I waited till Saturday night to stop by for donuts but this was intentional. If you stop by after 10-11 they are making donuts fresh right in front of your eyes. You might have to wait in line but don't let that stop you, there is a reason for that line. When you get in, make sure you ask what is fresh, and if you really want to plan it out you can add them on twitter to get updates.
Thanks for reading, follow me on Instagram for more photos of my trip to San Francisco.