I have been putting off this post for a long time. San Francisco has been so many things to me and I have been there in so many different stages of my life. SF was the first city I ever flew to and explored without my parents; the first city transit system I conquered having grown up in a one stoplight town. I am blessed with an incredible Uncle that has an equally incredible partner. They are two of my favorite people on this earth and they have given me amazing experiences in SF every time I visit. When I left Michigan, my plan was to live in San Francisco, but Seattle stole me. SO anyway, here is my collective experience from the 4 times I have visited from a semi tourist perspective.
What I like most about SF is that every place has unique characteristics that make it stand out in my mind. Often when I go to a new city, the places I go tend to blend together, but not in San Francisco.
SF is overwhelming and condensed. These are my top places as a tourist.
- Land’s End/Sutro Bath Ruins – A park in Golden Gate National Recreation area that goes along the cliffs to the Sutro Bath ruins. I love hiking/running in this area and then going to the Cliff House for a beverage or snack with an epic view.
- Golden Gate Bridge – Driving over the bridge is great, but biking over it makes it even more dramatic. We biked over and then spent a few hours in the cute shoreline city of Sausalito at shops and eating seafood.
Alcatraz – Yes, yes. Very touristy, BUT very edgy and loaded with history. I usually don’t have the patience for audio tours, but this one kept my attention. I was also lucky enough to catch AI Weiwei’s art exhibition that was set up on my second visit to Alcatraz.
- Mission District. The Mission District is a neat area that is full of murals, good food and shops. One of my favorite memories is walking down to BiRite Ice Cream and then sitting in Delores Park listening to musicians. I even scored an interesting palm reading by a stranger there. Taquerias – I’ve never been able to get a clear answer from locals as to what the BEST taqueria is, but the few I have tried did not disappoint. The Mission is also a great place to go out for drinks. Most of my nightlife experience in SF is in the Mission.
- Fisherman’s Warf – The obligatory tourist spot you have to check off your list. Truly not one of my favorite spots because of how crowded it is in combination with hundreds of tourist traps; BUT, the sea lions are cool.
- The Painted Ladies – Another touristy spot to check off the list, but not as crowded as the Warf. These Victorian houses are pretty cool to look at. *Enter Full House opening credit music*
- California Academy of Sciences
- De Young Museum
- Coit Tower
Hike in Marin Headlands and Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Visit the beautiful beaches of Bolinas
Food & Stuff:
- Chow – a go to with my Uncles.
- Tartine – Famous bakery
- Dandelion Chocolate – Vegan options
- Four Barrel Coffee
- BiRite Ice Cream
- The Sycamore
- Make-out Room
- El Techo
- Urban Putt (Brewery, putt putt course)
- Elbo Room
- Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem
- Beauty Bar
- Cease and Desist
- The Tipsy Pig
- The View – Hotel bar
My friend and I completed a self-guided bloody mary tour of SF. Here are some of my favorites:
- Zuni Café
- Hotel Utah
- Café Du Nord
- Rickshaw Stop
Let me know your favorite San Francisco spots for my next visit!