There is quite a bit to do in San Fran but as we were only there for 6 days, we did what we could on the very little preplanning that we did. One of these days I’m actually going to research properly before I get somewhere rather than winging it, thanks to some food intolerance flair ups I totally forgot to go and visit some restaurants I wanted to go. But on some of our random and not so random explorations we found plenty of cool things to do, so here here is my personal ten things to do in San Francisco.
We mostly headed towards Valencia Street for vintage shopping, we actually ended up hitting it twice because on another of out walkathons looking for what is probably the most Instagrammed SF house ever (see below) we ended up walking back down Valencia Street on our way back. I’ll be writing a separate post on vintage shopping in SF but The Mission District is full of beautiful street art, buildings and business do not waste the California sun when it comes to showing off their art.
No side alley is left unpainted.
And don’t forget to look down
Haight Street and Golden Gate Park
On our second day we walked down Haight Street (pronounced Hate) and made away to Golden Gate Park where this is plenty of this to do, especially if you have kids. Haight is full off vintage shops, boutiques, bars and cafes, in fact in kind of reminds me of Camden Town in the 90s.
After a small walk through the park, we found the Conservatory of Flowers which is a small tropical house. Costs about $8 per person and even though it was a grey day, it is filled with tropical blooms.
They also have a special themed exhibition and this one was based on the history of France. This little section had a cute steam train going round and round.
The Japanese Tea Garden is well worth a visit in the spring just for the cherry blossom and wisteria. WE were lucky as there was a lot of cherry blossom in bloom on our arrival and who doesn’t love cherry blossom. Entry again costs about $8, there is a little cafe to and traditional Japanese tea and cake and then you can wander around the gardens.
We also visited the Academy of Sciences where you pay an entrance fee of about $35* but there is so much to do and see in their such as the tropical rain forest which you walk up a spiral ramp and learn about eh different layers of a rain forest, it also doubles up as a butterfly house, their is the aquarium, the planetarium and the living roof garden which we did but there was so much more.
We didn’t do the de Young museum because at this point we were a little tired and it was quite busy for the Oscar De La Renta exhibition
We didn’t go to Alcatraz, I know it’s on the list of touristy things to do when in SF but if just appeal to me plus it’s quite expensive, so I opted for taking a picture instead.
The Crookedest Street is a tourist hot spot and is extremely busy, so be warned! This wasn’t too far from our hotel so one evening we hiked it up and down there (SF is extremely hilly) and then watched the drivers negotiate the road which has a five mile an hour limit and is down hill only! I’m assuming everyone drives an automatic in SF because the gear changes would drive me crazy with these hills and I don’t even drive! There are also steps on either side you can walk up to the top of the street and then take a picture of Alcatraz like I did!
The Cable Car Museum is free and you can see the machinery operating the cable car system and learn a little history about it all started. Warning, it’s very loud in there due to the operating machinery but it was one our way to the Golden Gate Bridge.
We did this near to the end of our stay in SF, we walked to Divisadero Street and walked to Marina Heights, I kinda wished we’d stopped off at the The Walt Disney Family Museum but that’s lack of planning for you, plus we were already half way through a long hike. SF has a lot of nice beaches you can walk along and the walk through Crissy Fields in really quite nice.
The bridge is about a mile and a quarter long, it’s very busy and used by pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles so it’s quite loud. Cyclists are supposed to give way to pedestrians but we didn’t see much of this and they hurtled along the shared pathway. It can get a little windy up there so a jacket is advised but on that day we didn’t need it.
So you have two options when you get to the other side, one is walk back or two in our case panic because you thought you could walk down to Sausalito and then realise this is not an option. Walk round the visitors car park for a minute wondering what to do, spot a Greyline Bus which costs about $10 a person and catch a ride to the ferry terminal! Phew panic over!
You could fork out for a fancy boat ride round the bay or you could catch the ferry to one of the ports. You can get the Blue and Gold Fleets to Fisherman’s Wharf or you can get the Golden Gate Transit to the Ferry Building, which is what we did.
We didn’t stop long in Sausalito, we just missed the Blue and Gold Ferry line, so bought some tickets for the next ferry and went and had a quick bite to eat at a nearby cafe and then headed back to queue up for the ferry.
The trip takes about half hour and on a sunny day you can sit up on the open deck and see great views of the Alcatraz, the Golden Gate and Bay bridges and the bay.
One thing San Francisco is probably famous for other than its very long and hilly streets is it’s beautiful houses or as they affectionately refer to them as ladies out there. We had one day where my husband indulged me and walked round half of SF looking a pretty houses as I cooed over the architecture. I had to say I was a little disappointed with the famous Painted Ladies but found plenty of other gorgeous ladies whilst on our walk.
I discovered this whilst actually trying to google where the house below was and came across this beauty which is in the Castro District. We walked all the way down Market Street and into The Castro, stopped for a bite to eat in a lovely restaurant which I forgot to take down the name of (sorry) before carrying on up to this. This was actually my favourite find.
This purple, pink and green lovely is probably the most Instagrammed house out there or so it at least seems in my feed but we discovered that we were only minutes away from this on our first visit to Valencia Street but hey ho, you learn. On the way back Valencia was closed for a massive family street day which was really cool.
There is so much to do in SF and in our six days I think we did pretty, according to my steps calculator we covered about 77k walking around, so I think we did pretty good. I would like to go back and explore more, especially the food scene, walk up to Twin Peaks, visit Fisherman’s Wharf and China Town, and maybe next time actually travel on a cable car which were all so packed and busy and I’m too impatient to stand in line if I can walk it!
Anyway, if you made it to the end of this post, thank you! No really, I tend to ramble sometimes and am terrible at limiting the number of photos in a post.