Growing up, San Fran was always part of movies I loved, like Mrs Doubtfire and Homeward Bound 2, so I have always been dying to see it. It definitely lived up to expectations.
The thing that is at the top of most people’s list here is The Golden Gate Bridge. The best thing to do is cycle across the bridge. We rented bikes in Pier 39 from a company called Blazing Saddles. The bike rental was $9 per hour and your ferry ticket was also given to you. They also had an electric bike option because parts of the cycle were steep. From here, you cycle to the bridge, where there is a viewpoint at the beginning and you cycle across the bridge to another view point up a hill. (if you’re driving instead of cycling, be careful because this area is notorious for break-ins). When you rent from Blazing Saddles, there is a ferry return option if you don’t want to cycle to whole way back. You cycle to a town called Sausalito just beyond the bridge and get the ferry back to Pier 39 with your bike. Sausalito has loads of cafes and restaurants and has fabulous views so you can make a pit stop here before your ferry back.
One thing to beware of with the Golden Gate bridge is that it tends to be covered in fog quite a lot. I would advise trying to do this early in your trip and at least if it’s foggy, it gives you more opportunities to see it later in your holiday. We tried a number of times and there was always fog!
Bay Bridge is another famous landmark of San Fran and at night especially, the view of this bridge is just fab!
Even if you’re totally clueless about baseball, I would definitely recommend trying to see a San Francisco Giants Game. The views from the stands are amazing for a sports stadium, looking out onto the water and there is a beautiful sunset. There are a lot of touts selling tickets so beware. We got tickets from the box office for half the price of the touts, 30 minutes before the start time. (if you’re late for the game by a few innings, the touts tend to reduce their prices a lot). The tickets are reasonable, we paid around $20 each, but the food and drink inside are expensive at $11 a beer. Check out the schedule and get tickets here
A trip to Alcatraz Island is another must. But, make sure to book your tickets in advance. They’re $29 and this is the best site. We didn’t have ours booked and they were all sold out. We had to queue at 5am to get the reserve tickets. The office didn’t open til 7:30am so it was a long wait. We were lucky to get tickets but some people behind us in the queue didn’t get any. If you can, go early in the morning. The ferry goes from Pier 39 area. Once you get the ferry out, you can stay as long as you want, so as the day goes on it gets very crowded. Make sure to do the free audio tour while you’re there too. It is very interesting. The return ferries run regularly and the schedule is available on the link above.
Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 are very touristy areas. There are loads of restaurants and attractions and sea lions lazing around. The atmosphere is buzzing with street performers too. Pier 39 is hidden away but worth a visit for food, drinks and to take in the atmosphere.
Getting around San Fran can be expensive with regular taxis. The BART is the public transport method and you can top up your ticket as you go. The cheapest way we found was with Uber. And San Fran has free wifi in a lot of places so it’s easy to order a pick up. If you’re travelling alone, Uber carpool is a very inexpensive option.
As a huge Mrs Doubtfire Fan, I literally know every line, I had to go see the famous house. A taxi/Uber will bring you to 2640 Steiner Street. My inner child was so happy when we arrived. Life = made! The house is in use so just make sure to be respectful of the tenants and don’t go inside the gate. There are lots of tributes to Robin Williams on the pavement and trees outside the house which is so touching.
We walked to Fisherman’s Wharf from here and there is such a nice feel as you walk through this area. The Cafes have outdoor seats and it has a buzz as you get closer to the sea. You can get the Tram down the hills too – another Mrs. Doubtfire moment!
Fort Mason and Ghirardelli Square are near the end of this route and are lovely spots to stop and take a break, have a picnic or just have a leisurely stroll through. They are right near the sea/marina.
If you’re in San Fran and you’re staying in rented accommodation and you’re food shopping, look for the nearest Safeway. You can ask for a Safeway Card as you go in and you can get a pretty significant discount on your food shop. Every little helps and all that!
We stayed in a camper van because we were travelling around the West Coast, but here are some accommodation options with links to their Trip Advisor Reviews:
- Book Alcatraz before you go. It books out really early and we had to wait in line for hours
- Plan your trip to the Golden Gate Bridge at the start of your trip in case of fog.
- Use The BART and Uber for getting around, it will save you money
- Check out my posts on LA, Grand Canyon and Yosemite
Top Tip Traveller 🙂