The city of San Francisco is known for its colorful neighborhoods, delicious cuisine and beautiful views. From gorgeous landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge to incredible food in Chinatown to quirky spots like Lombard Street. This San Francisco travel guide will help you make a memorable trip to the City by the Bay!
Best Way To Get Around: The best way to really see the city is by foot, however San Francisco can be tiring to walk with all of the massive hills. I would recommend using the Clipper card to pay for public transportation around the city. You can also use this card to get to and from the San Francisco airport by train.
Traveler Tip: If you are using public transportation to get into the city from the airport, I would recommend buying and loading your Clipper card at the airport for all the money you may need for your whole trip. We made the mistake of only loading the card for the train trip into the city and back to the airport. When we needed to use buses in the city, we loaded the money on the app, however the money took a few days to process and we were not able to use the card.
Fisherman's Wharf: Fisherman's Wharf is a dining, shopping and entertainment destination. Being one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, this attraction brings in large touristic crowds and is best known for being the location of Pier 39. Some travelers may prefer the quieter, more authentic attractions the city has to offer, however if you are looking to explore the city in its entirety, Fisherman's Wharf, is a must-see.
Pier 39: While at Fisherman's Wharf, walk towards Pier 39, where you will find a great shopping area with shops, bars and restaurants, and a few carnival rides! Pier 39 is known for its views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge and Alcatraz, as well as the famous sea lions on K-Dock! Also, be sure to dress warmly on this day, as the pier can get quite windy when you approach the water.
Traveler Tip: Avoid eating at Pier 39, as it is a touristic attraction prices can be high and food quality can be low. A better option may be Ghirardelli Square, home of the famous Chocolate Company, and the Ferry Building, packed with good restaurants. The best clam chowder in town is at Boudin Bakery.
Palace of Fine Arts- A popular wedding location, the Palace of Fine Arts makes for some lovely photo opportunities.
Lombard Street- Check out the worlds windiest street filled with blooming flowers and eight hairpin turns.
Ghirardelli Square- Best at night when the square lights up! Perfect for a cup of hot chocolate on a chilly day!
Go Shopping in Union Square- At the heart of the city, Union Square is a shopping hub, with large department stores, designer boutiques, art galleries and plenty of cafés and bars. This part of town is always busy with life and a nice place for sightseeing. You can also buy tickets here to ride the famous cable cars.
Alamo Square's Painted Ladies- These houses – made famous from the TV show Full House- are great examples of the architecture found throughout San Francsico. These colorful Victorian style houses and the beautiful skyline of San Francisco are definitely worth visiting on your trip.
Explore China Town- San Francisco has one of the largest China Town's outside of Asia, boasting a number of markets, specialty shops and restaurants. We were lucky enough to witness the Moon Festival, a fall festival celebrating harvest, bazaars, traditional dancing and the famous- mooncakes.
JapanTown- Not as large as China Town, JapanTown also has a number of beautiful Japanese architecture, delicious food and a great atmosphere to explore.
Nob Hill- Nob Hill was one of my favorite neighborhoods to explore in San Francisco. Known for its luxury hotels, historic mansions and beautiful architecture. These steep streets are filled with restaurants, specialty stores and nightspots. Be sure to check out Grace Cathedral, one of San Francisco’s most iconic landmarks after the Golden Gate Bridge.
Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Hotel - Enjoy a steaming pot of tea over house-made scones, tea sandwiches and luscious french pastries in the Fairmont's most elegant dining room.
Golden Gate Park- The Golden Gate Park is to San Francisco what Central Park is to New York, only the Golden Gate Park is much larger. Boasting a number of activities, from museums and botanical gardens to a Bison Paddock and windmills. This park is definitely a must see when you are visiting the city. Be sure to bring comfortable shoes to walk in because this park is impressively large.
Some activities in the park include: San Francisco’s Botanical Garden, the Dutch Windmill; beautiful when the tulips are in bloom, the Bison Paddock, home to a herd of Bison that live in an enclosed field, in the middle of the city, and the Japanese Garden, filled with Japanese flowers, pagodas and even a tea shop.
Golden Gate Bridge- THE iconic landmark to visit in San Francisco. Some of the best lookout points are:
Other Places on my Bucket list:
Twin Peaks Hike- The Twin Peaks are two hills from where you can get incredible views of San Francisco. You can hike up or – if you are in a rush – take an Uber.
Lands End- Another park beautiful park of San Francisco, where you will find a nice network of walking trails along the cliffs. The views of the ocean from there are stunning, and you can even see the remains of the Sutro Baths, a complex of public saltwater swimming pools.
Places to Eat:
San Francisco is known for its delicious food, here are 4 spots I would whole heartedly recommend.
Sweet Maple- Breakfast & Brunch
Lapisara- Breakfast & Lunch
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