After a couple of days touring the wine country, I headed back down to spend the day touring San Francisco. With only 6 hours available before heading to the airport to catch a red-eye flight home, I had to be very selective about what I wanted in a city with so much to see and do. The itinerary was a bit ambitious and at times felt like a treasure hunt, but it was definitely a lot of fun and gave me a distinct and varied set of experiences.
Although these attractions may not be on everybody’s list, here are my top 6 things to do in San Francisco (in chronological order):
1. Muir Woods National Monument
Muir Woods was declared a national monument in 1908 by Theodore Roosevelt in order to preserve this stretch of hundreds of years old redwoods from demolition and destruction by the logging industry. Named after the famous conservationist John Muir, Muir declared the woods “… the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world.” Several scenic trails wind through the ancient redwoods, gathering places, rustic structures, and memorials making for a pleasant and relaxing nature walk. For those with more time, it is also recommended to take the Dipsea Trail to Stinson Beach for a spectacular panoramic ocean view.
2. Seaside Lunch in Sausalito
Sausalito is a picturesque bayside town with a variety of activities on offer from browsing through the quaint shops and various art galleries, hiking nearby Mt. Tamalpais, taking a sailing trip, cycling, or lounging on the beach. With only an hour or so to spare, we headed straight to Scoma’s for a seafood lunch overlooking the bay to Alcatraz and downtown San Francisco. The lobster and crab stuffed sole and the view were outstanding!
3. Iconic Photo of the Golden Gate Bridge
A visit to San Francisco would be incomplete without a photo of the infamous Golden Gate Bridge. Be sure to take the drive (or walk if you’re ambitious and have the energy) up Conzelman Road on the north side where there are several scenic overlooks from which to catch a shot.
4. Balmy Alley Street Murals, Mission District
I love art. So whenever I can I like to head over to a town’s art district, markets, and galleries. In San Francisco, Balmy Alley in the Mission District features the local’s gritty and colorful street art that began in response to the political and human rights abuses that took place in Central America. The alley (and the rest of the district) is a living gallery and changes as new murals continuously appear, adding a unique flavor and culture to this increasingly gentrified and trendy area.
Click to enlarge and view slideshow
5. Lombard Street
This beautiful one block twisty stretch of Lombard Street is known as the “crookedest street in the world”. Paved with red brick and lined with beautiful blooms and gorgeous homes, it makes for an interesting drive down!
6. Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf
I am not really of a fan of the cheesy and touristy seaside piers. I don’t like the bright lights and crowds, arcade and fairground noises, or super sweet and super fried foods. But I did want to see the sea lions at Pier 39 along Fisherman’s Wharf. Unfortunately, with such a whirlwind day planned, it was getting dark by the time I arrived and I couldn’t get the best view. Nevertheless, it was worth a visit and a perfect ending to a perfect (and exhausting!) day.
What are your top choices of things to do and see in San Francisco?