Save me San Francisco: The Main Attractions of a Very Interesting City.



I was recently in San Francisco for four days, and it was barely enough time to explore this quirky city. It quickly became one of my favorites in America.

 

Where to go:

 

Fisherman’s wharf:

FIsherman's wharf San FranciscoFisherman’s wharf/pier 39  is one of the more famous places in San Francisco, and for good reason. There’s so much to see and do here, you’re going to need at least half a day to really see the place.

Check out the sea lions, who made the wharf their home and now refuse to move. They come and go as they please, and boats no longer use those piers since there are sometimes over 1000 sea lions hanging around.

Nothing beats seafood caught fresh that morning, and I had delicious fish and chips in Fisherman’s wharf, after wandering around all the shops. It’s a bit touristy, but if you’re going to San Francisco, you should definitely take a look.

 

Chinatown San Francisco

Chinatown:

One of my favorite parts of san Francisco was Chinatown, where I wandered through the shops gazing at all the silk and jade.
The best part about shopping in Chinatown? Most of the time I was left alone to browse, as opposed to being pressured to buy stuff, which I hate.
St Mary’s square is known as Chinatown’s living room, and this is where a lot of the Chinese will hang out and play checkers. There’s lots of tasty Chinese food here, most offering Dim Sum, which is a bunch of bite-sized food such as dumplings, and a great way to try a bunch of different stuff; if  (like me) you’re a bit picky.
Fortune Cookie Factory San FranciscoCheck out the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, where they’ve been making fortune cookies since 1962. They have bags of these cookies for sale, and the chocolate ones are delicious. It’ll cost you 50 cents for a photo, but they’ll let you try some cookies in exchange.

Chinatown in San Francisco

 

Union Square:

Hearts, Union Square, San Francisco
Union Square is one of the most visited places in San Francisco. Don’t even bother asking for directions here, (you’ll usually get a blank look since it seems like every second person is also from out of town).
There are four different hearts at the corners of the square, each painted by an individual artist and depicting a different scene from San Francisco. These “Hearts in San Francisco” are also seen throughout the city, and they’re auctioned off for charity, and replaced each year.
San Francisco, Union Square, Heart

There’s a lot to see and do in Union Square, especially if you’ve got some money to burn, and I managed to do an impressive amount of window-shopping on my backpacker budget. All the biggies are here, including Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and much more. There’s also a huge Westfield mall nearby, as well as enough department stores to satisfy even the most avid shopaholic.

You can catch a cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf from Union Square, and the Museum of Modern Art is here as well.

 

 

The Golden Gate Bridge:

We took a hop-on hop-off  bus tour around San Francisco with the Big Bus Company, since we wanted transportation around the city, with the freedom to go where we wanted. I definitely recommend walking across the bridge towards the city, since you’re treated to gorgeous views of the bay, as well as Alcatraz and the city. It took us about 40 minutes, stopping regularly for photos.

The Golden Gate Bridge was the “bridge that could never be built”, due to high currents and cold water. It cost $35 million to build, and was actually under-budget. The color of the bridge is called “international orange”, and it was originally supposed to be the primer color, since the bridge was going to be painted gray. The navy wasn’t too fond of that idea since it gets pretty foggy around the bridge and they wanted it to be painted black with yellow stripes. I’m glad it wasn’t!

The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
The Golden Gate Bridge

We were lucky to get such a clear day, since June to August is the foggy season. We also took the 90 minute Escape from the Rock bay cruise, which took us under the bridge, although that day we had the more typical foggy pictures:

Golden Gate Bridge Bay Cruise

 

 

Haight-Ashbury area:

Haight-Ashbury was the place to be for hippies in the 1960’s. It was actually the center of the hippie movement with it’s “Summer of Love”, and this is still evident in neighborhood today. Stroll down Haight street, and you’ll see shops selling scarves from Tibet, cute boutiques, and tons of second hand clothing stores. You’ll want to spend at least a couple of hours here, so grab a coffee at one of the many coffee shops, and people watch for awhile. It’s definitely worth a look.

 

Alcatraz San Francisco

Alcatraz

A couple of weeks before I was planning to head to San Francisco, I looked up Alcatraz tickets online and they were all sold out, six weeks in advance.
I was absolutely guttered. One of my main reasons for visiting San Francisco was to do the Alcatraz tour, and I was so disappointed in myself for not booking tickets earlier.
I was told that if you head down to Alcatraz landing at 5.30 in the morning, there will be scalpers there who will sell you tickets for three times the price. I hate scalpers, and refuse to buy from them, so I put Alcatraz back on my bucket list, and I’ll visit it next time I’m in California.

I did get to see Alcatraz from afar on the Escape from the Rock bay cruise, and this cruise includes a recorded narration as we circled the prison, which was still very interesting, so if you can’t get tickets, consider doing the cruise which was well worth the time and money.

Alcatraz Prison San Francisco

 

When to visit

If you’re planning to visit San Francisco during the “summer” you’ll need to bring more layers than you think. I wasn’t prepared for the weather, and  the wind is freezing, especially going over the golden gate bridge. Apparently a lot of the time winter is actually warmer than summer, with San Francisco often experiencing an “Indian Summer” in September and October.

 

 

Getting around

I found the public transport system in San Francisco to be both frequent and reliable. The MUNI system is cheap and covers most of the city, and you can also catch the Bart from the airport into the city and back, for around $8.40.

It costs $4 to take the cable car from Market Street to the famous Pier 39 (Fisherman’s wharf), and if you buy the San Francisco CityPass, (more on this later) you get seven days of MUNI and Cable Car travel included.

 

Is there anything I’ve left out that I should see next time? Leave a comment in the box below.

 

 

5 comments on “Save me San Francisco: The Main Attractions of a Very Interesting City.

  1. Izy Berry August 18, 2012 @ 1:05 am

    Wow, looks so awesome. I'm gutted I couldn't make it there when I was in America, it's so high on my list. Did you see the painted ladies?

    • onetravelsfar August 19, 2012 @ 2:39 am

      Sure did, although only from the top of a tour bus so didn't add them here. The buildings in San Francisco are very beautiful though. Definitely go when you get the chance!

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