San Fran is an incredible city, full of winding streets, innovation and great monuments. This city is one for the memories, there is plenty to see and do, you can explore this whole city in a day, but really you need a week here to enjoy it and see everything.
Of course the obvious place to start and see is THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE: Get to the golden gate bridge via public bus, or driving or hire a bike and be able to ride over the bridge. There is also a great cafe – The Warming Hut Cafe, grab a coffee or hot chocolate here to keep you warm through the crazy wind.
RIDE A CABLE CAR: Cable Cars are an awesome experience and one that can only be done in San Fran. Jump on at any point that is it at the three cable cars around the city the three cable car lines are: the Powell-Hyde Line, the Powell-Mason Line and the California Line. Jump on and pay the attendant, try do this early in the morning and you will have the whole car to yourself. Make sure to sit outside and feel the wind in your head.
GOLDEN GATE FORTUNE COOKIE FACTORY: This is a quirky little stop that you must try. Here you can see fortune cookies made, buy them fresh, and also try them. My highlight was writing my own note to place in a fortune cookie. This made a great present for my friend back home and cost absolutely nothing. ENJOY!
Eat pasta at EMMYS: This was a small stop that I made and I was incredibly impressed. A great date spot and also a cute little spot to go for a nice dinner with friends. Their meatballs are ahh-mazing, I had one on the side with my pasta with pumpkin and sausage which was stunning. There is a cute photo-booth and a few arcade games out the back to have a play on too.
ALCATRAZ: This is almost an article in itself, but Alcatraz is incredible. If you don’t know much about it here we go: Alcatraz was a maximum high-security prison that was situated off the San Francisco Bay. It closed down in the early 60’s and has since been turned into a museum. Alcatraz housed some of Americas most dangerous and notorious criminals including: Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (The Birdman), George (Machine Gun) Kelly and Alvin (creepy) Karpis. Head to Alcatraz to hear of the stories of these prisoners, of breakouts, and experience this eiry prison in its entirety. The one thing to note is you must book in advance, in winter you can often get tours on the day, but you will save yourself a line and wait if you book ahead. For summer, you may need to book anywhere between 1 and 3 months ahead. Alcatraz was a highlight of my trip to San Francisco, the boat trip to the island gives you some great views of the city too. I spent a quality 3 hours there but could have been there for many more. Be sure to check out the movie, listen to talks from park rangers – I heard about the Birdman, visit the hospital and get the guided audio book.
YUMCHA: is famous throughout San Fran and boy oh boy can you find some good
restaurants. TONKIANG is a great restaurant a little pricey but do good yum-cha. DELICIOUS DIM-SUM, DUMPLING KITCHEN and GOOD MONG KOK BAKERY are also amazing spots to get dim-sum and at a relatively cheap price. For the full Dim Sum experience head to GOLD MOUNTAIN or YAK SING. All of these restaurants are great but base your choice on location and price!
GHIRARDELLI FACTORY: Ghirardelli is a world famous chocolate brand, if you haven’t heard of it you are missing out. This is where the chocolate is made, you can also buy all of their range for a cheaper price than in stores as well as some cool souvenirs centered around San Fran and chocolate. This “factory” is also the store front and has some exquisite desserts and hot chocolates. My suggestion is the famous Hot Fudge Sundae or Butterscotch Hot Fudge Sundae.
FISHERMAN’S WHARF: Whilst this is a tourist trap, full of tourists roaming and rides for kids. But it is enjoyable and a really pretty spot to walk along between piers and take in the waterfront. My two picks for Fisherman’s Wharf are the BOUDIN SOURDOUGH RESTAURANT. This restaurant is a great spot to get a proper loaf of sourdough, one of the only spots where I could get proper bread in America. They do great sandwiches, bread rolls and also have some great souvenirs to take home – I got some great wine bags, recipe books and cooking ingredients.
You should also try CLAM CHOWDER whilst you are down at Fisherman’s Wharf. This is where it is made fresh and be sure to get it in the bread bowl where you can rip off the bread as you eat it and dip it into the clam chowder. I would suggest just going to one of the cheap stores on the strip- Crab Station, Alioto’s or Nick’s Lighthouse are my pick, or take a seat at Boudin Sourdough.
TWIN PEAKS DRIVE is a great spot to drive up and take in the view of San Francisco. A short drive from the center of San Fran get out of your car and have a walk around taking in the 360 degree view of the city.
LOMBARD STREET is one of the world’s crookedest streets. It is steep and curvy with eight hair pin turns on the section between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets. Watching cars drive down the street is a laugh and you can get a good photo from the top looking down on the city if you have the fitness and determination to make it up that hill.
STANFORD UNIVERSITY is an incredible campus, pretty, lush and full of history. Walk around the campus, explore the trees and gorgeous brick buildings. Head into the Stanford bookstore and find some great books and great Stanford clothing. Anything you want is there and Stanford themed – Bathers, stationary, cards, clothing, even BBQ equipment.