When we did a road trip along the West Coast of America, we started our trip in San Francisco. This iconic city in North California is very well known and even sung in a song that keeps going on in your head for a few days. San Francisco, we’ve finally made it.
As we first arrived in the city, we immediately felt that nice Californian vibe. After dropping our bags in our hostel, we went to explore the city. As at most cities you visit for the first time, we just had to cross off some places from our map. As we were staying in the HI Hostel, which is very conveniently located downtown – do take a cab at night though, we could easily walk to explore the city.
Lombard Street and China Town
So, first off to Lombard Street. This steep street gives a nice view over the city and is very known for its curves going down. Though it can get crowded here, you’ll get to see how the hills can dominate the city and its unique architecture. Since you’re now close to Chinatown, why not walk through it? Chinatown in San Francisco is the biggest out of China living Chinese community. Sometimes you really feel like walking in China in this 24 blocks large area. Did you know that Portsmouth Square is where the first houses were built in Yerba Buena – how San Francisco was called earlier?
Getting hungry of walking already? Try to find a free table at The House. Or just get your name registered and show up on time.
Dutchies just always take a bike
Next day, rent a bike and explore the city a bit more. At several points in the city you can rent them, we took ours at Union Square. As it can get quite hilly, we took the bike first to the port of San Francisco. As at least the coast is flat, we rode it all the way towards the Golden Gate Bridge. Along the road you’ll find some (touristy) highlights too. We found it a little bit cheesy but Pier 39 – at Fishermans’ Wharf – is great to stop. You will find, just follow your nose as you’ll smell them from a distance, lots of Sea Lions just hanging around.
Continuing the route, you’ll might want to find out if there’s a Farmers Market at Fort Mason Center.
Next you’ll reach the Palace of Fine Arts. It is a very nice place to walk around and take your shots. Now you come close to the Golden Gate bridge. The bridge can be crossed by foot, bike and car. We took the bridge to get to the other side and drove down to the village of Sausalito. This is a very nice place to rest for a bit and take a bite if you got hungry after all that cycling. We took ours at Copita. Later we took the ferry back with our bike on board to have great views to the bridge, Alcatraz and the city.
Why not take a bike again + Alcatraz
As we figured out we had only covered just a bit of the city, we took a bike again. Now a bit more close towards the Golden Gate Bridge. From there we stopped at the Fort Point Historical Site. As it was Sunday lots of people were out with families for a picnic and even people were surfing the waves under the bridge. Don’t get in the water if you’re not experienced.
As we were heading back to the city we stopped at Main Post Park. Also on Sunday, food trucks come out and everyone is gathering for a nice afternoon with food and drinks.
Now we really get to meet the steep hills of San Francisco. As we wanted to visit the Painted Ladies, cover shot of this story, we had to get crisscross through the streets, even walking up ánd down. Again, it has been rewarded with a great view over the city.
Time to return the bikes and freshen up a bit. It is time to visit Alcatraz. We took one of the last boats to the island as we would be rewarded with a sunset over the city, the bay and the bridge. Yet very touristy, definitely worth the visit. When walking around, you really can imagine how it must have been when the big boys were locked up. Also credits to the guides who will tell the spooky and dark stories after sunset. Get back to the boat on time as you don’t want to spend the night at the prison.
Sutro Baths, Golden Gate Park and Height & Ashbury
The next morning we took an Uber to Sutro Baths, which is North West of the city. Here you’ll see a bit how the rocky coast line of the PNW can get. It’s nice to get around here as it’s not too touristy. Walk a bit towards the bridge to have another look at the bridge.
We continued our tour through the city by walking along the beach. This really gave us that Californian vibe and lead us towards the Golden Gate Park. Here we might have made a miscalculation as the park is a little bit bigger than we expected. Still a great, long green strip in the middle of the city. Do take some time, and enough water with you when you go from west to east.
When you finally reach the eastern part of the park it is worth to walk a bit further. You know, you already got it going. Here is the neighborhood called Haight – Ashbury. This area became world famous as it was the beginning of the Summer of Love, back in 1967. As it used to be the area for the upper class and survived the great fires and earthquake of 1906, it became very soon in the 50’s an area of abandoned houses after the great depression. This lead to thousands of hippies in the 60’s who could afford houses very cheap.
Off to the Pacific North West
San Francisco was such a nice place. Though it’s located at the Bay and therefore weather can change very rapidly, the city greated us with lots of sunshine. In a very short amount of time you can easily explore the city but it can be exhausting too. If you don’t want to walk a lot, make sure Uber is installed on your phone. We took one the next day again to get to the airport as it was time to start our road trip along the Pacific North West.