aahhh…San Francisco. What a peculiar little city. The city which has constantly been outshone by the glitz and glamour of New York and Los Angeles and other cities of the sort. I must admit I wasn’t all that enthusiastic to be visiting San Fran and did not expect to find anything too exciting there. The little I had seen and heard of the city, on TV and in magazines, had not convinced me that this was a place I would be thrilled to stay in.
I was however, utterly and completely, 100 percent wrong. It took me about one look to completely fall in love with it. (So that’s a bit of an exaggeration but let’s just roll with it.) The city is so quaint and welcoming and bursting with culture and vibrancy.
Of course, my mum packed around 182736 guide books in her hope that this holiday would not pan out as every one of our holidays has; with us having next to zero idea of where we are or what we are meant to be doing. But as with other such far-fetched dreams and ambitions, that hope fell through. Saying that, we ended up having a fabulous couple of days and I thought I’d share with you a few of the things we enjoyed doing.
This little town is found just across the Golden Gate bridge. It reminds me almost of an old European town in some ways. It’s filled with tiny boutiques, buzzing restaurant and cafes, cosy houses, of course has stunning view of the the ocean and The City from every side and whole atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. It has a completely different feel from the City itself and I would thoroughly recommend visiting if you would like a change of pace or just a beautiful, relaxing place to spend a day.
2. Farmers Market
There are several farmers markets dotted around San Francisco (there’s one of Market Street named ‘Heart of the City Farmers Market’, one at Crocker Galleria) but the one we visited was a little outside the main City in an area called ‘Foster City’. I love these things. The markets have an incredibly vibrant atmosphere and I would recommend going just to see that. The produce itself, for example the fruit and veg, is so fresh and I would say of better quality than those sold in surrounding stores. You are able to get immersed in the weird and wonderful stands in the market for hours and it was most definitely one of my favorites.
3. Victorian Houses
I would suggest taking a car and just drive around the residential streets in the city. The houses are wonderful. Differently shaped, sized, decorated, they really are a sight to see.
4. Bike Ride
Walking can get tiring, and renting a bike in San Francisco is easy and fairly cheap. My family and I loved it. We rented a bike at Fisherman’s Wharf and rode over the bridge to Sausolito. It was one of the best days of the trip and I guarantee you’d love it as much as we did. The company we rented from were based in Fisherman’s wharf next to the Ben and Jerry’s shop: http://www.bikerentalsanfrancisco.com
5. Golden Gate Park
Again another biking trip.This time we took our bikes around Golden Gate Park. The park is huge and there is such a vast variety of things to do in there. Far from just being a large grassy areas with a couple of flower beds, the park offers: a conservatory of flowers, several museums including the California Academy of Sciences museum (which has an aquarium, a planetarium and a rain forest), an art gallery, a Japanese Tea Garden and that’s just to name a few. I would recommend taking a picnic and a football and spending the day exploring the depths of this enchanting park.
6. Union Square
At the center of the City, the square is host to a vast array of restaurants, shops and hotels. The square is filled with energy and vibrancy and is a must see for anyone visiting San Francisco. It’s easily accessible by foot and has it’s own parking underground so coming by car is just as convenient.
7. Fisherman’s Wharf
A neighborhood at the city’s northern waterfront which is possible the most touristy area is all of San Francisco. I admit it was a little too touristy for me but again, it’s one of those places you can’t visit San Francisco without seeing. And although I wouldn’t recommenced eating here as the prices are ridiculously expensive, the Wharf has many activities to offer. We visited the numerous art galleries and of course this is the central hub for boat rides and cruises. There is also a lovely beach which is a nice spot for eating lunch or just resting the legs. However, the main attraction for me was the Ghiradelli Chocolate shop and factory, a locally founded chocolate company. I didn’t even know you could get chocolate in so many flavors! And it’s not just chocolates, there’s a factory where they show you the processes of making the chocolate and there’s also an entire cafe dedicated to making as many different types of food and drink as possible from this chocolate; from sundaes to ice-cream to cake. I loved this place and it’s honestly some of the best chocolate I’ve ever had the pleasure to taste.
8. Golden Gate Bridge
Of course, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge would be on this list. I didn’t find the bridge itself too special (aside from fact it’s one of the most famous bridges in the world) but the views from it are stunning. Just make sure you don’t go on during the time of the fog.
9. Crooked Street
Another iconic location, which is undoubtedly found on many postcards and the cover of many guide books. Although there isn’t a lot to do or see here, you must take at least one picture in front of this eccentric little street. You could also attempt to drive down it but really, it would be more enjoyable for the onlookers as they watch you struggle to maneuver yourself on that road than for you.
10. China Town
I would say this is possible the most famous Chinatown in the world. It’s certainly the oldest in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia. I, for one, loved walking through the town and looking at the shops and markets on show and just watching this Chinese Community get along with their day. As soon as you step into the place, it honestly feels like you have been transported halfway across the world and have landed in China itself. it’s incredible. The town is so vastly different from the City and it is quite literally busting with culture. However, we didn’t spend long there, as there’s not a lot to do in terms of activities.