San Francisco – a hilly city surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, home to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and known for its Victorian houses, cable cars and Karl the fog; this city is home to a little bit of everything. When I first moved to the States, I dreamed of living and working in this city (before I knew how expensive it was :P). After enough procrastination, I finally booked my tickets to San Francisco!
I stayed in Downtown San Francisco (SFO) for the convenience it has in terms of the places I planned to visit. It’s centrally located in general so you can look at hotels or AirBnBs there.
My friend and I started our day by taking an Uber to the Grace Cathedral in Nob Hill. Why the Cathedral, you might wonder? Nob Hill is a neighborhood in SFO and based on other locations that I wanted to go to, the Cathedral seemed to be right in the middle of Nob Hill.
After strolling through the neighborhood, we went to Chinatown. I would recommend seeing the string of Chinese lanterns at the intersection of Clay Street and Grant Avenue.
Before going to Pier 39, we checked out the Bay Bridge which connects SFO to Oakland. In my opinion, seeing the Bay Bridge in the night would be better! On the way to Pier 39 was the Ferry Building Marketplace. The Marketplace is known for the variety of food it offers! Unfortunately, it was closed by the time we were there and didn’t really get a chance to explore all the cuisines in there.
Pier 39 was bustling with the crowd but its the evening lights that made it dazzle! This place is heaven for all you seafood lovers with so many restaurants to choose from. We made a pitstop at the Biscoff Coffee Corner to get some of their world-famous Biscoff cookies. THEY’RE DELICIOUS and you SHOULD NOT miss it.
Fisherman’s Wharf is an area close to Pier 39 where you see souvenir shops and stalls that sell crabs, clam chowder and sourdough. If you don’t know this yet, California is known for its sourdough! You can also see the famous Alcatraz Island and spot some sea lions here. Before heading over to the Ghirardelli Square, we stopped for some sourdough at the Boudin Bakery. Through their glass windows, you can actually see some folks making sourdough; it’s amusing!
Finally, Ghirardelli Square! On the way there, we could actually see the Golden Gate Bridge! (You’ll know soon as to why I’m so happy that I saw it on this day). After eating and buying some Ghirardelli chocolates from the Square, we were in two minds about walking all the way up to Lombard Street. It was late evening and I was extremely tired from all the walking. Because we weren’t sure about the weather for the next few days, we decided to push ourselves. Now, SFO is a hilly city. And by hilly, I mean that the angle of inclination of the slope is really high.
We somehow made it to the top of Lombard Street and it was quite fascinating to see how far we had come up! After hanging around there for a while, we walked down to the bottom of the steps of the Street and decided to call it a day.
I had planned to visit some more outdoor places on this day but the weather just wasn’t having it. On the brighter side, I visited the Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC) and got the most of the Black Friday sale!
Now, MOIC might not be for everyone. I’m a girl who loves ice cream and everything pink and cute; so going to MOIC was an obvious decision. My inner child was very happy and you can see that on my face!
As I had my Mumbai trip coming up in a matter of a week, I shopped for some goodies for my family and friends. If you know me, I love shopping and even the rain couldn’t stop me! Union Square has almost all brands that you’re looking for – right from Forever21 to Chanel; all at walking distance from each other.
I’m sure you must have heard about Napa Valley; especially if you love wine! Napa is about two hours away from downtown SFO so booking a wine-tasting early during the day would be ideal. If you Google “Napa Valley Vineyards”, you’ll get a ton of vineyards to choose from! Based on a friend’s recommendation (thanks, Brittney!), my friends and I decided to go to Hall Wines at St. Helena.
The tasting experience mainly consists of wine-tasting and a self-guided tour around the vineyard. Our tasting had five wines that started with a mild one and went all the way to a strong one. We then walked around the vineyard, played some games and had lunch at a restaurant in the city.
We then went to the Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay. The hotel is an oceanfront resort and is perfect for an evening drink (or two!). We sat in the open-air area around a fire pit with uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean and a constant soundtrack of crashing waves with the perfect weather! Try to get here before sunset to get one of the most breathtaking views ever!
Last day in San Francisco and only 4 hours in hand before we run to catch our flight. All this and we still hadn’t properly seen the Golden Gate Bridge. Unfortunately, Karl the Fog decided to visit us today. The fog engulfed a major part of the city but that didn’t deter us from executing our itinerary for the day.
We left early in the morning to check out the Lyon Street Steps. From the summit of these steps, you can ideally see the Bay, the Presidio forest and amazing old mansions. We couldn’t see ANYTHING.
After walking down 332 steps, we walked towards Presidio Park and the Palace of Fine Arts. The Park is an extensive forest to walk around and chill. The Palace of Fine Arts is an exquisite monumental structure constructed back in 1915. Again, the fog didn’t really give us clear photographs, but it was alluring to be standing right in front of it.
Painted Ladies are these seven elegant and old Victorian and Edwardian pastel-colored houses standing tall near Alamo Square.
After getting a good view of them, we walked a bit in the Golden Gate Park. Along the coast of the Ocean Beach is the Cliff House, which is a restaurant perched right above the cliffs of the city. You’ll get to see some scenic spots of the Ocean Beach along with Sutro Baths.
Sutro Baths was originally a privately owned public saltwater pool complex that burned down in June 1996. We didn’t walk all the way down to the ruins of the Baths because of time constraints, but managed to get some photographs on the way!
The last stop was the Fort Point National Historic Site, from which you get an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge. I kid you not, we were right under the bridge and we couldn’t see it because of the fog. Thanks, Karl. Of course, it’s upsetting but it’s okay. There’s going to be a next time!
I couldn’t really explore this city the way I wanted to because the weather didn’t cooperate with me this time. Riding the cable car, properly seeing the Golden Gate Bridge and walking over it, Sausalito and exploring some more restaurants and cafes is what I missed! Let me know in the comments section below if you know any places that I should go to, in SFO, on my next trip there! 🙂
Very good article…. as always☺️👍
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Thank you, Aai. 😀
Thanks for the tips! Great Article! 🙂 Helped me plan my trip.
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Thanks, Aditi! Hope you have a fun trip! 😀