Well, what a wonderful start to September – a gloriously sunny weekend in San Francisco! I don’t know how many times I’ve visited this gorgeous city but I don’t think I’ve ever been here in a full blown heat wave (currently 3pm as I start typing and 37 degrees! Blazing!) San Francisco was never a place I had on my travel list when I started my flying career back in 2007, I had seen it in brochures in the travel agency I worked in but it never crossed my mind as a place I was ever desperate to go unlike LA, New York or Hong Kong. But over the years it has slowly become one of my favourite places in the world and a city I hold very close to my heart. I was very fortunate to be able to do a lot of my London Marathon training here last winter and that spine tingling feeling of running across The Golden Gate Bridge, touching the end and turning around to run back at the crack of dawn will stay with me forever.
This gem of a city is a great addition to any Californian road trip – plenty to see and do for 3-4 nights. It would also be a good city to stop on a multi trip tour – some friends of ours have just honeymoon’d in Las Vegas-Hawaii-San Francisco! (Jealous). There really is something for everyone here – great food everywhere, amazing shops, lots of sports, and it’s a photographers dream. Also, if you love running the hills are amazing, Golden Gate is epic and they even have a really lovely ParkRun here down at Chrissy Fields. And for those who prefer life on 2 wheels its a great base to start from on a road bike. There is still so much I haven’t seen here – I’ve saved Alcatraz for when we eventually come on holiday one day, Mrs Doubtfire’s house, Golden Gate Park and a trip up to the top of Coit Tower are also all on my list. But here are some of my top tips for the beautiful city of San Francisco, hope you enjoy!
Where To Stay……..
I would recommend staying anywhere around Union Square, there are lots of hotels down at Fishermans Wharf too but it is quite far from the city centre. I am currently staying in the financial district near china town which is great too. A hotel I have stayed in many times here which I LOVED and felt totally at home is the Stanford Court at the top of the hill on Powell and California – would highly recommend and its a good calf burner up and down the hills too with your shopping bags!
Which brings me onto shopping, I’m not a big shopper, I’m a kind of a know what I want, look into where to get it and go straight there kind of girl. (A big Primark shop every season & I’m pretty much done). But San Francisco is a shoppers dream! While there are designer shops such as Dior, Fendi and Tiffany, theres every single shop you could ever want in San Francisco!! Around the Union Square area is a huge Macy’s, Apple, Nike Town, Zara, Sephora, H&M, , Victorias Secret and Urban Outfitters and down on Market Street is a GAP, Anthroplogie (another fave), ALDO, Forever 21, and an enormous Westfield shopping mall filled with every other shop imaginable and a food court underneath. Make room in your suitcase for all your American goodies you can find here. If you love vintage shopping head to the Haight-Ashbury district for some unique finds – its said to be the founding place of hippie culture!
The best way to see the iconic Golden Gate Bridge is to ride across it. Most bike hire places open around 8am and are dotted around the city but Fishermans Wharf is your best bet. They are cheap as chips and the bike guys give you maps and circle things to see along the way. It’s about 6 miles from Fishermans Wharf to the other side of the bridge with a few hills along the way and ALOT of amazing photo opportunities and a further few miles to the gorgeous town of Sausalito where you can grab some lunch and a glass of wine or 3 and get the ferry back for amazing views of the city.
Where To Eat…….
Put it this way you won’t go hungry in San Francisco! Lets start with breakfast, (but I’d just like to say I’m not one for fancy fine dining on my work trips although a big fan of food!) Lori’s diner is great – American classics all round and right in the middle of town on Sutter/Powell and also in Ghiradelli Square down on the Wharf. Theres a great IHOP down at Fishermans Wharf for pancake fans but my favourite is the berry Swiss almond oats at Corner Bakery on Market St.
If you just want a quick coffee and free wifi there are Starbucks on every street.
For later on in the day Cheesecake Factory is a MUST! Located on the top of Macy’s in Union Square it is always busy but worth the wait – head in the lift in the lobby of Macy’s to the top floor. The food menu is endless and cheesecake selection is huge! Banana cream is my favourite and I think over the past 10 years ive tried the majority of them, ooops. For pizza lovers, head to California Pizza Kitchen just off Market St on 3rd and you won’t be disappointed. Down at Fishermans Wharf is Bubba Gumps – a fun restaurant themed around the hit film Forrest Gump. Loads of shrimp on the menu and the waiters will quiz you about the film too.
But my favourite stop for a quick bite to eat has to be Super Duper Burgers, I think they are only located in San Francisco and theres one on Kearny St and one also on Market St. Delicious burgers, amazing shakes and they stock beers too!
If your staying in town you can either walk or get the trams down to Fishermans Wharf – it is a lovely walk down the Embacardo to Pier 39 though. It’s very ‘touristy’ down there but a must see! Lots of places to eat including famous Boudins Bakery, In N Out Burger and Forbes Island floating restaurant. Ripleys “Beleive It Or Not” museum and Ghiradellhi Square are worth a look too but the best bit about Fishermans Wharf are the sea lions!!! They are noisy, boisterous and smelly but I always go and see them, they make me giggle 🙂 You get great views of Alcatraz from here too!
That famous winding street – you have to go and have a look! I am rather annoyed that I don’t have any photos on my camera or my phone of this!
Check The Weather Forecast…….
San Francisco has very changeable weather. Its the first weekend in September and currently experiencing a heatwave but I was here a few weeks ago and there was a chill in the air. I always pack a coat in winter as it can be quite wet and cold much like the UK.
Good Photo Spots…..
Hike up the steep hill to the crossover of California and Powell Streets for an amazing sunrise view of the Bay Bridge peeking through the cityscape. Another one on my to do list with my camera is Alamo Park where the 5 painted lady houses are located.Another of my favourites is Pier 7 – again good for sunrise and the Transamerica Building is framed perfectly when you walk to the end.
There are probably so many things to see and do here that I am yet to discover, it’s an amazing city. So vibrant and multicultural, I always come home from here with a full heart and a big smile on my face!
PS I almost forgot, don’t worry about the homeless people. They are fairly harmless and you get used to them! Alot of them are in a complete world of their own and will always ask to borrow a dollar. I recently read somewhere that in 2014 over 7,000 homeless people were recorded in the city. But it kinda wouldn’t be the same without them? It’s always something my passengers comment about on our return flights from here but honestly its nothing to worry about.
I really hope you enjoyed reading! Is anyone heading here soon? Or if anyone has any recommendations I would love to hear 🙂
Lots of Love,