san francisco tourists
May 22, 2016
Last December we travelled to San Francisco. The decision to go on a family holiday was very last minute. Within a month of travelling, we booked onto one of QANTAS's new direct flights to San Francisco, booked our accommodation with Air BnB and packed out bags. We stayed about 12 days in San Francisco, so we had plenty of time to wander the streets and see the sights.
Here's a list of some of the touristy things we did whilst in the city.
Golden Gate Bridge
There are several places to get a great view of the bridge.
Wander around Crissy Field, a large parkland near the Bridge....
From the ferry, passing Alcatraz Island in the afternoon....
Another perspective of the bridge is to ride across on a bike. There are companies along the wharf areas that hire bikes. You ride over the Golden Gate Bridge and down to Sausalito. You can either ride back over the bridge to San Francisco or catch a ferry back to the wharf areas (with your bike).
Book this early as the tours to the island book out, this was the one activity we booked before leaving home. The island is a short ferry ride from the wharf area of SFO, you enjoy pretty views of the Bay and Golden Gate bridges and back to the city during the ride over to the island. (Book the tour to the island HERE)
When you arrive at the island you wander up the hill from the wharf to the prison. One of the first landmarks on the island you see is the water tower with reminders of the American Indian occupation of the island from the late 1960's.
The Alcatraz cell house was really interesting. You wander around with the audio tour which guides you around the prison, while listening to stories told by former prisoners, wardens and family of prisoners.
The kitchen and dining hall...
One of the stories talked about the prisoners amusing themselves in their cells by crocheting blankets.
The Cable Cars
We jumped on one cable car, and wound up riding them for the rest of the afternoon criss crossing the city.
The drivers and conductors provide the entertainment, they are really funny, from singing to directing traffic (yes if cars are in the way, they jump off the cable car and tell the drivers where to go). There are three main cable car routes across San Francisco. The turntable areas can get busy, my tip is to wander up to the street to the next stop and jump on the car there. And buy a ticket before you get on board.
This was very pretty at Christmas time. The big Christmas tree and the ice skating rink made it very festive. Many well known shops are in this area of town with Macy's taking up prime real estate over looking the square.
Fantastic views of the city, the whole bay area and in the other direction out to the ocean. The road to the top winds around the hills until you reach the top of the peaks.
There is a great system of wharves on the bay side of San Francisco from the Bay Bridge round to Fisherman's Wharf. One favourite was the Ferry Building Marketplace. Great farmers markets, food hall (many of the foodie and coffee places of San Francisco have stalls/stores in this area) and restaurants.
As you're wandering along the wharf system, pop into Pier 39 and see the SFO bay resident seals.
The Painted Ladies
San Francisco is full of beautiful old style houses, but this little strip of houses looks very impressive with the city skyline as their backdrop. If you're in the area, visit Alamo Square to see this row of Victorian homes.
That's the first part of our San Francisco trip. I'll be back with my favourite part of our holiday, seeking out the best bakeries and coffee in San Francisco.
Thanks for visiting.