Wednesday, April 1, 2015

48 Hours in San Francisco

I've only been to San Francisco a time or two-- and only for a day.  It was never really a destination I HAD to see.  Sure, if given the chance I would vacation there-- but we had never made specific plans to go.  So when Jason got home, we decided to take a long weekend-- and see San Francisco!  (He'd never, ever been-- by the way)

Before Jason got home from South Korea, I'd done a bunch of research about the city, and found several blogs about things to do when you visit, listed below:

There's a lot of good information in these posts-- and our bucket list was long after I read through them all.  When Jason got home, we narrowed things down, writing the "Must See" things down on the back of an old receipt, and sticking it in my wallet. 

There was so much to see and do, we didn't get to it all.  But we managed to pack quite a bit in our 3-Day "Weekend."

-- Day One --

1, Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge-- As soon as I learned you could do this, I wanted to.  It's about 3 Miles round trip.  But it gives you a chance to get to really see the bridge, and the city from all sides.  Plus, once you've walked across the bridge you can buy yourself a shirt at the gift store on the San Francisco side.  Something that's right in our wheelhouse.

2. Fisherman's Warf-- This is a tourists mecca.  Wax Museums, Shops, Food, Cheesy Attractions-- It's packed with people, and things to do and see.  Honestly, the hour we spent here was more than enough for me.  But we did get to see the Pier 39 Sea Lions, and the Boudin Sourdough Factory-- both worth braving the crowds.

3. Coit Tower via the Filbert Steps-- Yes, we climbed hundreds of steps to see Coit Tower!  It was closed when we got there, but the view was incredible.  And perhaps even better than the view, was the climb itself.  The Filbert Steps take you through people's backyards, and you get to see some pretty incredible houses.  I'd recommend it, if you don't mind sweating a bit.

4. Japantown-- We just stumbled upon Japantown, but it was pretty cool.  Small shops and restaurants with Japanese wares and foods.  We actually managed to find some delicious Korean food, so I got to try some of the things Jason had been eating during his year abroad.

-- Day Two --

5. Alamo Square & The Painted Ladies-- Full House fans will enjoy hanging out in the park the Tanners picnicked in during the show's opening credits.  But people who didn't watch/like the show will still enjoy the amazing view, and a glimpse of these historic houses, which are perhaps the most photographed in the city.

6. Haight-Ashbury-- Hippie counter culture at it's best, but definitely worth a stroll through.  There is a lot of history along this street.  We stopped by Jerry Garcia's house, took in the psychedelic artwork, and browsed the shops.

7. Golden Gate Park-- I think you could spend an entire day just here, but if you only have a few hours-- it's still worth a stroll.  We hit up the Conservatory of Flowers, the deYoung Museum, and the Japanese Tea Garden.  Unfortunately, the day we went most things were closed, but it was still an enjoyable walk.

8. Chinatown-- San Francisco has an amazing Chinatown.  When we stepped off the bus, Jason told me he felt like he'd been transported back to Beijing/Shanghai.  There is so much to see from Buddhist and Taoist Temples to Chinese Markets and Shops.  Grant Avenue is more touristy, but still fun to stroll down.  And seek out the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory.

9. Lombard-- The most crooked street in San Francisco is worth a stop.  You can join the other tourists blocking traffic to take your photo in front of it, then hike the hill to the top, for a view of the city and the bay.

-- Day Three --

Ok, we didn't really do a day three-- just a few stops in the morning, before we left town.

10. The Full House & Mrs. Doubtfire House-- As children of the late 80's, early 90's, our trip to San Francisco wasn't complete without a stop at two houses that were part of our childhood.  The outside of both have changed drastically in the past few decades-- which is to be expected.

11. The Marin Headlands-- After walking across it, Jason really wanted to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge.  So, I figured it would be worth it to drive to the top of the Marin Headlands on the other side to get a different view of the bridge.  I didn't realize there were forts and a lighthouse-- something we'll have to check out next time!

Some other notes about our trip:

We stayed at Fort Mason, in a hostel.  I was weary about hostels, because we're both 30-- and seem to be getting to old for them.  But after seeing the mid-40's and 50's clientele staying with us, I realized we'd be ok.  Plus, it's pretty affordable considering we were staying in one of the most expensive cities in the country.  I'd recommend checking it out if you're considering a trip.  Hosteling International has several locations in the U.S., and throughout California.

We wound up driving into town, and getting to park at the hostel for free which is a bonus.  We wound up taking the bus everywhere, which I highly recommend.  Muni is incredibly easy to navigate, and inexpensive.  And even if you think you can walk there, I would ride the bus if it's farther than a block or two.  There are huge-ass hills all over San Francisco, and the map doesn't tell you that!

Also, the Cable Car is a rip off!  $6 for one ride, and no view for us because it was filled to the brim with people.  I wouldn't hop on unless it was nearly empty.  Also, check out Ghirardelli Square for a massive brownie sundae or the Stinking Rose for some delicious garlic-centric dishes.

Have you ever been to San Francisco?  What are some of your favorite things to do there? Do you have any travel tips for people who have never been?

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