Updated July 20, 2020.
When was the last time you visited the City by the Bay? Steve and I just got back from a whirlwind weekend, and these are our top 10 reasons you should visit, too!
10. Lay-flat Upgrades
OK, so this one actually happens before you get here. Steve and I have 1K status with United Airlines (meaning we fly with them a LOT), which allows us to get a set number of free upgrades each year. The United route from Washington, DC, to San Francisco flies on a 777 with lay-flat seats in business class. Decent food, seats that lay flat to help you sleep, and no swollen feet! That’s a good enough reason for us to pick flying to San Francisco over another destination!
9. Ferry Rides
I LOVE a good ferry ride! Whether it’s from Vallejo, to Alcatraz, or to and from Sausalito, you’re in for a real San Francisco treat. Take in the beautiful sights, especially on a clear day, and go to the top of the ferry for the best views!
8. Fisherman’s Wharf
Go for the sea lions! It’s likely to be crowded down at Fisherman’s Wharf, but go in the morning and get a load of those guys! Grab a clam chowder for an early lunch and catch a ferry for an afternoon excursion!
Still hungry? What to Eat in San Francisco
7. Coit Tower
Love to get a good view? Cit Tower is just the place! It’s historic, way up in Telegraph Hill, and you can get 360-degree views from the top. Everything is within sight on a beautiful day!
6. The Painted Ladies at Alamo Square
If you grew up in the late 80’s and 90’s, you probably recognize this:
A quick bus ride took me to fulfill a childhood dream! I got to see the Full House houses! They are actually known as the “Painted Ladies” just across from Alamo Square (which is unfortunately under construction at the moment!), and they are 19th century homes that survived the 1906 earthquake and fire. Look how pretty!
5. Lombard Street
This is the nation’s “crookedest” street. You can rent a car or bike (or weird motorized tricycle car–we saw those and thought they looked a little dangerous on the road!) and drive or ride down the street (only down, not up!), or you can walk up or down the street on the sidewalk steps.
4. Ghirardelli Square
This one had to be high on the list! While the square was too crowded and lines were WAY too long on this last trip, I did get to enjoy it on my first trip to San Francisco in 2013! My girlfriend Amy and I enjoyed hot chocolate (it was late November) and a tour of the chocolate company’s history! I highly recommend it, particularly for chocolate lovers!
3. Cable Cars
The cable car system here is the original, as well as the only one still in existence! For a real treat (after a sweet treat at Ghirardelli), head over to the FREE Cable Car Museum. You can see the cables really working and find out how it all works. I learned so much about the history of the Cable Cars! I highly recommend it.
About 1.25 miles off San Francisco’s shoreline lies one of the most well-known and romanticized penitentiaries in the world! “Alcatraz” is Spanish for “pelican,” but that’s no reference to the “Bird Man” who was imprisoned here. The things that stood out most to me on my visit were the fact that the wardens’ families lived here (even children!), and so many of the most notorious prisoners weren’t committed for their most heinous crimes–they got in for tax evasion! Especially the mobsters.
1. The Golden Gate Bridge
This simply has to be the most recognized San Francisco site, and probably one of the most iconic sites in the world! It’s not walking distance from downtown, so you have to take a bus or drive there yourself. There’s a nice park and gift shop on the San Francisco side, and the photo-ops are fantastic! At the time it was built, it was quite the engineering feat. And it’s orange instead of golden so that ships and planes have a better chance of seeing it in the fog!
Want more about epic cities across America? Check out my United States Page!
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