San Francisco, the birthplace and home of so many things we hold dear – how many times have you used Google today?! It’s not only the unofficial technology capital of the world, but it’s also an amazing destination for anyone wanting a taste of the American west coast and all it has to offer.
This great Californian city doesn’t really need more of an introduction, so let’s get to it, and run through some of our favorite spots and experiences in San Francisco!
First of all: yes, this city is as hilly as you think, or maybe even more so. But don’t let that stop you from visiting, because the hilliness is part of what makes San Francisco, well, San Francisco.
Who cares if walking a few blocks uphill equals a week’s workout when you can use transportation that not only does the job for you, but also provides fantastic views and a big old serving of San Fran culture itself?! There are three cable car routes in operation, so chances are that you’ll find your destination, without breaking into a sweat.
This experience is so unique that some people say it’s the highlight (see what we did there?) of their whole stay in California. The water in Tomales Bay is the home of a certain kind of plankton, that produce light when disturbed – and who can blame them? This light creates terrific light shows, making the water look like its own glimmering, glittering Milky Way. You have to see it to believe it!
Long gone are the days when Alcatraz was a place to try to escape from – these days people are gathering to let the ferry take them to Alcatraz Island where they can get a little taste of what it was like to be an inmate in what once was one of the most notorious prisons in the US.
You have to buy tickets to visit, and there are a couple of options to choose from, the day tour from $46.35 for adults – includes a round-trip ferry ride to the island, access into the prison, and an audio tour.
Or if you’re looking to get the full inmate experience, opt for the night tour – where for only $7.15 more ($53.50!) you’ll get a much more exciting experience, with a personal guided tour – and special activities included!
Watch the fog creep in over the Bay or admire the views from the hilltops – there is fantastic scenery wherever you turn your head, but here are a couple of sights you definitely shouldn’t miss.
That red bridge that you’ve seen in countless films and photos, you know the one! The iconic suspension bridge connects San Francisco to Marin County and is even more impressive in person than on the screen. Did you know that the grandiose structure with Art Deco was meant to be painted with black and yellow stripes? Thankfully, it was decided that the bridge would keep its famous orange color.
Not quite as iconic as the Golden Gate Bridge but rather close is Pier 39. Here you can shop, dine, and enjoy live music and entertainment; as well as experience places such as the Aquarium of the Bay, the San Francisco Carousel or try the 7D Experience!
If you haven’t tried out 7D yet, well, you’re in for a real treat! Essentially it’s a 3D movie, with the regular glasses – but instead of sitting in normal cinema seats, your seat vibrates, or moves to work as a movie/rollercoaster! But don’t worry, even the firm rollercoaster haters will love this experience.
Head over to the 16th Avenue Staircase – it might be a bit out of your way, but it’s definitely worth it – promise. Each one of the 163 steps is covered in brightly colored mosaic tiles donated by the community. As if this work of art wasn’t enough – when you reach the tippy-top of the stairs and turn around you’ll be met with the most gorgeous view over the city. And don’t forget to take a pic while you’re there – ultimate Instagram material right here!
Perhaps even better material for your Insta feed will be found in this lush paradise, where you will be surrounded by vegetation galore, from aquatic plants to tropical flowers. In these awe-inspiring surroundings, you can also partake in events including balls and Murder at the Conservatory – a murder mystery evening. We think the orchid did it!
It’s hard to describe the ambiance of this age-old club, but the Norwegian word “Koselig” comes closest to describing the warmth and joy you feel when stepping through the front doors.
You’ll find anything to do with books and print – especially the Californian kind. The club supports book printing, design, and typography, and it even prints its own literature. Any book enthusiast could spend hours here, looking through limited editions and the exhibitions on display.
Had enough of the beautiful city of San Francisco yet? Didn’t think so, so here are more amazing experiences for you. You can thank us later.
Food, of course, food, is going to be on our list. One favorite is The Flying Falafel, where the falafels are golden brown, and the pittas are gently toasting and waiting to become delicious fuel for your belly.
Blue Bottle Coffee is another gem where you’ll find the most amazing brews, always ready for you when you need it. Are you hungry yet? Good, so are we.
Leave San Francisco, really? Yes, there are so many fantastic experiences outside of the city, how about soaring over Sonoma County in a hot air balloon, looking out over the stunning landscape? Or going to Napa, the Queen Grape of the wine country? Pretty cool, right? So is a visit to Lake Tahoe, where you’ll get the chance to experience all sorts of winter and water activities, as well as hiking and biking!
Finding a good place to stay is almost as important as finding good food. Taking a look at the Airbnb shared accommodation option is strongly recommended – this is where you can temporarily rent a spare room in a local home! Entire homes aren’t as easy to find on Airbnb in San Francisco nowadays since the local government tightened regulations.
If you’re traveling with your family and need a larger place, staying just outside of San Francisco usually gives you more choice, and it tends to be much more affordable. Areas including San Jose and Oakland are both great options as they have direct transport links to SF.
Have you started looking at flights to San Francisco yet? If not, you might as well do it now because this city is one of our favorite destinations, hands down. If you’ve already given it a visit, would your list of the best places be different to ours? Do tell; we’re always looking for new places to try out!