San Francisco, California is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States; the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay surround this hilly city. It is known for the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Transamerica Pyramid, the most prominent Chinatown, and its year-round fog. There is always something new to uncover. I have been to this beautiful city a few times already, and every time I discover something new and exciting to do there. Nonetheless here are a few activities I did during my recent trip.
Best Time To Visit
Best Time To Visit – Summer is the best time to visit San Francisco, but it all depends on the activities you want to do during your visit. Typically, June to September are the driest months in San Francisco. The average day temperature is around 67°, and nights are around the mid-50s.
Getting Around in San Francisco
Go Car-Free: It’s not just an environmental statement; it’s a smart choice. San Francisco is a spread-out city, but most tourist sights are close together, so you don’t need one to get around. Even worse, some hotels charge more than the price of a nice lunch just for parking. If you think you’ll park on the street, finding a spot there requires more luck than anything you can imagine. Pick a hotel in a convenient area (Union Square or Fisherman’s Wharf), use public transportation, Uber, or taxis, and rent a car for just one day to take a side trip.
Renting a car from the airport is also the easiest way to drive around San Francisco, particularly if you plan to visit a few day trip locations out of town—no worries about getting lost as long as you got a working GPS. By renting a car, you can ensure you get to see all the major attractions at your leisure. It also means you can afford to be more relaxed about your holiday planning.
If you are not driving, uber is probably one of the safest and easiest ways to get around in San Francisco. There is no need to pay cash as the ride is shared with your credit card, and fares are affordable.
Underground BART System
The BART Train (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is a great way to travel within and outside San Francisco. It connects San Francisco International Airport, Oakland, Pleasanton, Berkeley, and other neighborhoods.
San Francisco’s network of fuel-efficient Muni buses, historic streetcars, light rail Metro trains, and iconic cable cars covers all corners of the city. Affordable, safe, convenient, and environmentally friendly, choose Muni for your commutes and adventures.
How To Get There
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is about 13 miles from downtown San Francisco. It offers non-stop flights to more than 40 international cities on 37 international carriers. In addition, the Bay Area’s largest airport connects non-stop with over 75 cities in the U.S. on 13 domestic airlines.
Getting to Union Square From The Airport
Take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) Train from San Francisco (SFO) airport to downtown San Francisco’s Powell Street station (Union Square). The hotel we are staying at is only 9 minutes from the station.
Just follow the signs to the Air Train and BART from the airport baggage claim area. When you arrive, there will be two red and blue air tram lines. You can take either of these lines to the BART station.
You must purchase a BART ticket when you arrive at the BART terminal. You will find ticket machines right at the tram exit. Get off at Powell Street Station, so this is the destination you’ll want to look for while purchasing the ticket from the machine. To purchase the ticket, follow the instructions on the BART ticket machine. You can use cash, Debit, or credit card. A one-way ticket from the airport to downtown Powell Street Station is $8.95 (Nov 2017)
San Francisco is a vast spread-out city with multiple small cities around; therefore, finding a suitable area to stay in requires prior experience or expert recommendation. Search your hotel options here:
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Things To Do In San Francisco
I would recommend taking the Hop-On Hop-Off bus to get to know the city and most popular neighborhoods if you are first time visiting San Francisco. I took the first bus starting at 9:00 am from the South Corner of Geary and Powell Streets (Union Square), just one block from my hotel.
Day 1: Things To Do
Get off at Alamo Square
Historic Alamo Square offers quintessential scenes of the city, including the famous “Painted Ladies” of Postcard Row. This photogenic hilltop has emerged in multiple shows, such as the ‘Full House.’
Next Stop at Haight Ashbury
Birthplace of the 1960s counterculture movement, Haight-Ashbury draws a lively, diverse crowd looking to soak up the historic hippie vibe. Upper Haight Street is an assortment of vintage clothing boutiques, record shops, bookstores, dive bars, and casual, eclectic restaurants. Bordering Golden Gate Park, the neighborhood features many colorful, well-preserved Victorian homes, including the storied Grateful Dead House.
Next, Stop at Golden Gate Bridge & Walk on the Bridge
Looking at the Golden Gate Bridge and not walking on it is like going on a safari without a camera. Strolling the sidewalk and crossing the iconic landmark is a great experience.
Stop at the Palace of Fine Arts & Presidio Park
The Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District of San Francisco is a monumental structure originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition to exhibit works of art presented there.
Visit Lombard Street
Lombard Street is an east-west street in San Francisco, California, that is famous for a steep, for example one-block section with eight hairpin turns. Lombard Street’s pretty postcard view has become famous worldwide, and many visitors enjoy seeing the cars carefully winding down the turns among the beautiful flower beds. This is just one of the many cliff-like streets that horse-drawn wagons and early Model T Fords had trouble with.
In 1922, the homeowners on the 1000 block of Lombard Street decided that their street was too steep for comfort and created the plan to create a series of eight sharp turns to make it more manageable.
Portsmouth Square Chinatown
Getting off at Chinatown gate or Portsmouth Square will allow you to visit Cable Car Museum and Chinatown. This is one of the oldest and most established Chinatowns in the U.S. Beyond iconic Dragon’s Gate, a bustling maze of streets and alleys brims with dim sum joints and other traditional eateries. In addition, there are bakeries, souvenir shops, dark cocktail lounges, and karaoke bars.
Plan a Stop at Pier 39 Fisherman’s Wharf
A great place to spend time wandering is Ferry Building. You can also access or enjoy Sea Lions, Pier 39, Madam Tussaud, and the Cruise terminal from here—this 100-year-old terminal-turned-public-food market. A few local favorites like Miette Bakery, Blue Bottle Coffee, and Cowgirl Creamery are worth a try. Experience the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market for a change on Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.
Washington Square / North Beach
Washington Square, St. Peter and Paul’s church, Cost Tower, North Beach Walk, North Beach Little Italy.
Visit Embarcadero Center
The Center is located along the piers, Barbary Coast Walk, Exploratorium, also Ferry Building. You can see the historic F-Line Muni streetcar right informant of the center. If you’re driving, there’s ample parking in adjacent lots for anywhere from $25 to $40/day. The Embarcadero BART and Muni station is also within walking distance, and there are plenty of places to lock up your bike.
Get Up Close with the Bay
At the other end of the Embarcadero are Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, a zany and exciting neighborhood that showcases San Francisco’s portside past and fun present. Here you’ll find plenty of amazing fish and seafood markets with their own unique spin on the SF clam chowder classic. Wander around the docks and meet some of San Francisco’s cutest attractions—the sea lions that live on Pier 39’s K Dock! Explore what’s in the water and get the ultimate San Francisco experience (no matter the weather) on the Fog Bridge. Inside, enjoy a unique perspective on the bay and the bridge from the Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery—and watch for a visit from your new sea lion friends.
Get on the Cable Car Faster
Don’t stand in the endless line at the stop on Hyde just below Ghirardelli Square. Instead, head to Mason and Bay Streets, where lines are much shorter. You’ll end up at Union Square on either line. If you just want to ride for fun, get on the California line where California Street intersects Market near the Ferry Building and get off at the top of the hill in Chinatown. The big hill on this route is thrilling, and the crowds are much smaller. You can find everything about them in the San Francisco cable car guide.
Day 2: Things To Do
The First Red Route bus starts at 9:00 am from the South Corner of Geary and Powell Streets (Union Square), just one block from the hotel. Take the bus, get off at Golden Gate Bridge North stop, and transfer to the Green Route bus for Sausalito (the First Bus is at 10:15 am).
1St. Stop at Horseshoe Bay
Horseshoe Bay is located in San Francisco, CA, approximately two miles from Sausalito. The bay makes a great place to take out a kayak or paddleboard. Crabbing and fishing are also popular activities.
Next Stop at Sausalito Downtown
Spend some quiet and relaxing time in Sausalito—a great place to have lunch by the Bay.
Next stop at Golden Gate Bridge South
From here, you will have excellent photo opportunities from a vista point. Once done, take the next bus back to Sausalito downtown.
Take a ferry from Sausalito to San Francisco port
On the way, you can view Alcatraz Island, located in San Francisco Bay, about 1.25 miles offshore from San Francisco.
Favorite Local Restaurants and Food
You’re in a city full of restaurants rated among the world’s best but don’t assume they’re all too fancy and expensive for you. On the other hand, don’t be a typical San Francisco tourist either: the one who settles for the tired, mediocre Fisherman’s Wharf restaurants or the even more tired garlic-laden dishes at Stinking Rose. Instead, research online, ask your hotel for suggestions, or see what others you meet have to say.
For great food and experience, try visiting Mourad. Their rich and vibrant flavors of Morocco in new ways harmonize with the fresh, local, artisanal ingredients and the spirit of innovation of Northern California.
Sons & Daughters is a great place to have Lunch/Dinner.
The food is incredible, and if you’re a planner, you should make a reservation in advance. Sons & Daughters is a place for people who appreciate food, when you and your dining companions are those people. Definitely $115 tasting menu is absolutely worth it. Note that to make a reservation, credit card information was provided
Zero Zero, San Francisco
For a great dining experience, visit Zero Zero. Nestled in San Francisco’s SOMA district, Zero Zero is perfect for a quick bite at the bar, having dinner with old friends, and everything in between.
For Best Burger in Town
Visit Wayfare Tavern for the delicious burger in town. This restaurant is located in downtown San Francisco’s financial district.
Where to stay in San Francisco, California
Located 2 minutes walk from Union Square and a classic Cable Car stop, this San Francisco hotel is in the heart of downtown shops, galleries, and restaurants. The Grand Lobby reception offers sherry pours each evening for guests of Kensington Park Hotel. In addition, dry cleaning services are offered to all guests. A business center and a 24-hour reception are also provided. Fisherman’s Wharf is 25 minutes cable car ride away. The Ferry Building shops, restaurants, and ferries to Sausalito and Tiburon are 1 mi from Kensington Park Hotel. San Francisco International Airport is 40 minutes drive away.
Street, Omni San Francisco features a restaurant and elegant rooms. Offering service to San Francisco International Airport, Montgomery Street BART Station is 6 minutes’ walk from the hotel. Close to the historic California cable car line, a short walk to Union Square, the Embarcadero, Chinatown, the Ferry Building, and Fisherman’s Wharf, the Omni San Francisco is at the center of the city. Shops and attractions in Union Square are 10 minutes walk from the property. The Ferry Building and the Embarcadero are just 1 mi away.
My Opinion and Last Word
Have you been to San Francisco, California? Any cool tips to share?
I loved being in San Francisco, California, and want to go back again. I hope my story has motivated you to visit California.
Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you to improve my knowledge.
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