San Francisco's highlights
Why should you go?
San Francisco aka the “City by the Bay” is known for its world famous Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, LBGT friendliness and has the second largest community in the China Town area of all the US, right after New York.
San Francisco is a progressive city and a visit to this open-minded city will spoil your mind. The city is home to people with a variety of backgrounds and cultures and has countless good restaurants and great shopping districts.
When should you go?
Although the city is in sunny California, the temperature can fluctuate at times. Between June and October you have the best chance of nice enjoyable weather. The rest of the year is colder and there is more rainfall. San Fran is a windy city and senses always quite a bit cooler then the actual temperature dictates.
How to get there?
The city has its own airport. The fastest way to discover the best flights is via Skyscanner.
We flew from Zaventem, Brussels through Frankfurt and were 14h on the way.
San Francisco with its two million inhabitants is not super large, but you will rapidly have lots of miles in your legs. The best way to explore the city is on foot or by bike which you can rent for $32 a day at the Ferry building at “Ferry Buildings Bike Rentals”. Reserve your bike online in advance and save 20%. The city also has an excellent network of cable cars, subways and buses. Avoid getting around by car. You better take an Uber if desired.
Four days and three nights is recommended to fully discover the city.
Where to stay?
Try to book your hotel or Airbnb well in advance. San Francisco is expensive! Prices for a hostel with a private room are around $80/night, a night in a budget hotel sets around $120 and a midrange hotel easily makes your wallet $180/night lighter.
Try to avoid the Tenderloin neighborhood, this neighborhood (purposely) belongs to the homeless and drug addicts. In this neighborhood the plague broke out for two months in 2018 due to all the droppings on the street and every month 12,00 (!) drug syringes are collected on the streets. In short, a neighborhood that you would rather not walk through, certainly not with small children and definitely not at night.
Trivial fact: guess in which area our hotel was during our city trip?
Things to do
✶ A trip to San Francisco is only complete when you have walked or cycled across The Golden Gate Bridge. Personally it was a bucket list for both of us and we really enjoyed the trip
✶ Relax some pm hours in one of the many parks the city has to offer such as Golden Gate Park, Mission Dolores Park or Alamo Square Park, with its beautiful views on the world famous “Painted Ladies”, which you can recognize from the opening theme of the original 90s TV series “Full House”
✶ Alcatraz must be at the top of your to-do list as well. The world famous prison where notorious gangsters such as Al Capone and Bumpy Johnson were detained will give you goosebumps. Take an audio guide for a full experience and listen to all mesmerizing stories. Book your tickets online at $48/pp. The ticket revenues are used for the maintenance of the national parks and the audio guides are included in the entrance fee.
✶ Visit Pier 39. It is touristic USA to the max but you simply cannot skip it. Not only will you find many typical restaurants and souvenir shops here but on the pontons along the pear, dozens of sea lions are sunbathing. As the Bay area is protected these funny animals are always ensured of enough food.
✶ One of the most famous views in the city is at Lombard Street which is a very steep street with many turns. Try not to get too sick if you drive through it by car.
Where to shop?
✶ Hayes Valley: simply heaven for design lovers thanks to the many haute couture and designer shops
✶ Valencia Street: trendy street with arts and antiques shops and cozy book stores
✶ Haight street: the main street of San Francisco, once the heart of the hippie and flower power movement
✶ Powell Street: to find all major chains
✶ Fillmore street: nice street full of cozy restaurants and trendy shops
Best view over town
Mission Dolores Park is not only a super nice park to chill in and picnic in but you will also have a super nice view over the city skyline.
Visit the Coit Tower for a panoramic view of the city.
Where to eat?
✶ Bourbon & Branch: coctails
✶ Craftsman and Woves: coffee
✶ Swan Oyster Depot : this family business has become world famous for its excellent seafood. The restaurant has only 18 seats and it goes without saying that you sometimes have to wait for hours to get a seat. We waited in line for half an hou, but it is worth the wait. Reservations are not an option.
✶ Ike’s Sandwiches: for the best pastrami sandwiches
✶ Hong Kong Clay Pot restaurant in China Town: definitely try the Won Ton Soup
✶ Bun Mee
✶ Souvla for a healthy lunch
Do you have any further questions about this article? Feel free to leave a comment below.