It’s been over a month since I last posted my Los Angeles guide, so I thought it was about time that I followed it up with my guide to San Francisco! So over 2 months ago (can you believe it), I returned from the trip of my dreams to the U.S. After hitting L.A., we headed over to San Fran for 5 days to explore the city and see what it had to offer.
Where We Stayed
We stayed in an Airbnb in Outer Sunset, right next to Golden Gate Park and a 10-minute walk down to the nearest beach. This trip was our first time using Airbnb and I’d definitely do it again! Make sure to follow this link to get £25 off your Airbnb booking.
Coming straight from L.A, I instantly felt the slower pace of life in San Fran, one which was most appreciated after experiencing the hectic lifestyle of L.A. Being next to the beach, you could feel the cool sea breeze as you walked around the neighborhood and it was such a joy being able to wander around a city again on foot, exploring places along the way – unlike L.A. where you have to get an uber everywhere! Here, it’s really easy to use public transport and you can download an app on your phone to buy tickets for transport like buses too.
Although we stayed a little bit further out from the main attractions than we wished, we had to budget for the cost, and the prices for accommodation are way higher in San Francisco! Just something to bear in mind when you are planning your visit. I’d say you don’t really need any longer than 5 days in the city to experience and see all the sights/attractions. One area we didn’t manage to visit was the Mission District, which I had a few places pinned to go on my maps (mainly cafes and shops), so if I’m ever to venture back I’ll definitely be heading there!
Golden Gate Bridge – The Best Sights
Baker Beach is a great place to go to get an amazing view of the bridge from the side and have a relaxing walk along the beach. If you manage to get here early morning to experience the infamous San Fran fog, you can get some incredible photos!
From Baker beach, we took the coastal walk that takes you from the beach to the entrance of the bridge. Along the way, there are some fantastic opportunities for photos and if you’re careful, you can stray a little off the beaten path and get to some really high points that are definitely worth it once you get the shot.
Probably one of the most well-known places for a good view of the bridge. You can drive here which makes it an easy location to get to, but it is a busier location. You actually end up passing battery spencer if you choose to take the bike ride from Pier 39 (more on that below).
Across the Bridge
Make sure that you plan a whole day to take a trip across the bridge. The most common way is to hire a bike from Pier 39 for the day and take a ride over the bridge across to a small town called Sausalito (there are bike lanes so you don’t have to be worried about riding on the roads!). Take a break here, have a coffee and some lunch before getting the ferry from Sausalito back to Pier 39. The ferry actually passes really close to Alcatraz so if you don’t manage to get round to booking a tour there, then you can get a really good view here!
We actually ended up spending the majority of our time at Pier 39, I’m not even really sure how! But it’s a great place to walk around, lots of good places to eat and have a drink. You can have a walk on the pier, see the friendly-neighborhood seals and get a great view of the city from afar.
The painted ladies are a row of houses on Steiner Street. To be totally honest, I wasn’t that blown away when I saw them, but that is probably due to the fact that San Fran is full of beautiful Victorian style houses that we had already seen. To give them credit, I have never seen such a beautiful row of houses altogether in complimentary shades of pastel. Alamo Square is directly opposite the houses and is a lovely park to sit down, enjoy the outdoors and views of the painted ladies.
Again, I can’t say I was that impressed with Lombard Street – I think the photos looked a lot more impressive – but, this is another big tourist attraction and there were SO many people stood at the bottom taking pictures! It’s basically a short street that goes in a zig-zag downhill, so watching all the cars drive down it does look a little weird! You can actually hop off the cable car at this stop too, which is what we did (read more about that further down).
Golden Gate Park
Although Golden Gate Park isn’t actually that close to the bridge itself, it’s definitely worth a visit. There’s lots to see in the park, including wildlife strangely enough. We jumped on some electric scooters to ride around which is definitely the most fun way to explore the park. Look out for the baby turtles on the back of a ‘fake’ turtle in the lake too! We didn’t make it to the botanical gardens, but I’ve heard they are beyond beautiful and definitely worth having a look at if you get the chance.
Kim + Ono
A hidden gem in the heart of Chinatown, I stumbled across this place whilst trying to find somewhere to go for tea. I was drawn in by the interior design which was minimal and spacious, and I was so happy to have discovered this little beauty! It didn’t take me long to see that they stocked Herbivore skincare which I have been DYING to try! The majority of the store hosts their incredible handmade kimonos which are so beautiful with their own individual touches. Along with that, the store has a variety of gifts, books and other cute trinkets for you to browse. Highly recommend a visit!
I’d heard of Wasteland through Jenn Im and Soothing Sista’s recommendations. Set on Haight Street, a really cool area that also hosts some great coffee and retail shops of similar style, this is one the best vintage stores for finding top quality designer brands at some seriously good prices. I could see the expression on my boyfriends face when I dragged him in *not another clothing store* but after 10 minutes, I found him with his arms full of clothes that he picked up and an excited grin on his face for finding a Yeezy Season 3 jumper. This one is definitely worth a visit, I wish I lived close to one myself!
Take a ride on the Electric Scooters
Whilst in the Lyft from the airport to our Airbnb, we asked our driver what was the best way to get around the city and he said electric scooters! A bit like Lyft, you download an app on your phone, find the nearest scooter to you on the map and go pick it up by scanning the QR code. Easy peasy!
Take the Cable Car from Powell St.
A tourist hot spot, but again, one definitely worth doing! San Fran is known for its steep roads and hills, so cable cars are such a fun way to have a tour around the city. There are a limited number of seats and standing areas, but we made sure that we stood on the outside to make the most of the experience! In my bakerboy cap, I felt like I really dressed the part haha. Make sure you buy a ticket either online or at the desk before boarding!
Try a vegan cheesecake.
This is a bit of an odd one, but trust me. You HAVE to hunt down a vegan cheesecake while you’re in San Fran. Unfortunately, I can’t quite remember where I found mine, but I’m pretty sure I spotted a few places selling them while searching for somewhere to stop for lunch that sold vegan food. They are absolutely incredible and so good that to be honest with you, I wasn’t sure if I was being sold a real cheesecake!
So that’s my to-do list for your next trip to San Fran and the last of my U.S. travel guides – for now! I can’t wait to go back and who knows, maybe one day I’ll find myself calling it home…
Have you ever been to San Francisco before? Let me know if you have and some of your favorite places below!
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