I lost my head in San Francisco, waiting for the fog to roll out …
Just recently I stumbled across folders full of my travels in America and my heart started to burst. There’s not one day since my departure that I have not spent missing the U.S and looking at those old pictures made me absolutely happy. So why not sharing a little bit of happiness with you?
Those of you who will visit the US for the very first time, I will be posting a blog post of my top tips to keep in mind when visiting North America.
Here are my top Things to Do & See in San Francisco:
1. Golden Gate Bridge
I will mention the obvious from the beginning: The famous Golden Gate Bridge! There are several different observation platforms for you to take the perfect picture. The Golden Gate Overlook is so far my absolute favorite observation platform and gives you especially at night an amazing view on the bridge. If you decide to take a picture pretty much from every angle of the Golden Gate Bridge, you can check out the Fort Point National Historic Site, Baker Beach and Fort Baker. Each one of these spots
Top tip: Don’t forget to actually step foot on the bridge and enjoy the view 😉
2. Muir Woods
Hiking up Muir Woods twice so far, I found it a pity that many travelers are not aware of this beauty! Muir Woods is one of America’s National State Monuments, where astonishing red woods dominate the scene. There are several different hiking trails that give you the opportunity to explore North California’s beautiful nature and enormous red woods. Depending on your ability to hike, you can choose from different hiking trails that vary in length and difficulty.
It will only cost you 10 $ to enter the park, and believe me, it’s an absolute Must-See!
3. Hippie Tree
The Hippie tree, located outside of San Francisco in a small town called Tiburon, is a little gem stone when it comes to NorCal. It has seriously become my favorite spot to overlook San Francisco and will always have a special place in my heart. Don’t get confused when entering the address to get there, it is quite hard to understand where to go to enjoy the best view in town. You will have to walk a little field, in between the residential areas of Tiburon, until you find an old giant Eucalyptus tree. This tree holds the famous swing, which you probably saw on a bunch of Instagram photos.
It won’t cost you a dime, though it is only possible to visit the place by car! (Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge will charge you a toll but believe me when I say it is absolutely worth it.)
Pro tip: There is an In and Out right on the way to Tiburon, so don’t forget to snack on those delicious burgers, animal style!
4. Golden Gate Park
The Golden Gate Park, located right next to the beach of San Francisco, is the right place for romantic dates, travelers interested in educating themselves and experience San Francisco’s culture.
The park offers range from a Japanese Tea Garden, Botanical Gardens, various Museums and even Buffalo’s! It is clear that there is a bunch of international influence in the park (Take for example the windmills & Queen Wilhelmina’s tulips or Shakespeare’s Gardens) which makes exploring this park even more exciting. I would suggest you check out goldengatepark.combefore your visit to take a look at the recent events before your visit. There is no charge to enter the park itself, though there are different admission fees depending on the different attractions.
Here, you will find an overview of the prices, and tips how to experience certain attractions for free!
5. Lombard Street
The Lombard Street – a horrendous drive with a stunning view. The Lombard Street is probably one of the most famous streets of San Francisco and is claimed to be “the crookedest street in the world.”
Driving it yourself in between all the tourist posing is awful, but understandably experiencing the street without passing it, is a must visit place for travelers! You not only get to see the crookedest street in the world, but you also get to have an amazing view on San Francisco itself. It is definitely an experience! Not to mention, it won’t cost you anything to take a candid Instagram photo in front of it!
6. Castro Street
The Castro Street is not only famous in the LGBTQ Community, but it offers so many more unique possibilities to experience culture and San Francisco’s vibrant Nightlife. A must visit is the bakery Hot Cookie, which sells pastries and cookies in form of genitals – yes you heard me right! These famous cookies are not only fun experience itself, but they are also absolutely tasty. If you want to experience a neighborhood full of life, culture and cookies: The Castro Street is the place to be.
7. The Painted Ladies
If you ever watched the 90s show “Full House” you are going to love this one: Are you recognizing the house? Yes! It is THE Full House. The painted Ladies are another Must-visit place for those who want to get all nostalgic about their youth. Located in a quiet area near Alamo Square, the Victorian and Edwardian style houses awe with their historic looks. Fans of the TV Show will be able to relive the 90s. Don’t forget to take a candid photo in front of the houses!
8. Twin Peaks
If you are looking for another beautiful spot to view San Francisco by night, you need to see the Twin Peaks! These two famous hills, with an elevation of about 925 feet, are a perfectly located to give you a breathtaking view on the city. If you’re traveling with your partner, you will love the romantic atmosphere within the Twin Peak Hills. But be aware of the racoons around the area, don’t try to feed or touch them at any circumstances.
9. Pier 39 / Fisherman’s Wharf
Pier 39, my absolute favorite place located just on the San Francisco Bay. From unique shopping opportunities to sailing, dining to the famous sea lion viewing spot. I have had the most wonderful meals here, the most peaceful view on San Francisco’s sea lions and experiences one of a kind shops as for example Houdini’s Magic Shop or Lefty’s – San Francisco’s Left-Hand shop. If you’re looking for a fun day out with a unique twist you are at the right spot. What about spending the day at the Aquarium? At the Pier 39, you will never get bored.
When I talk to other people about Alcatraz, I tell them about the most amazing tour I have ever experienced while traveling. I joined the Alcatraz tour spontaneously when I traveled solo to San Francisco. I decided to just go online, and funny enough, I was able to get one of the last tickets for the tour to visit Alcatraz – once home to some of America’s most notorious criminals. While a ticket to the Island costs around 38$, I can tell you that this tour is so worth it! You will be able to hear the stories and experience the federal penitentiary through the eyes of the inmates. Hear and see how famous inmates as for example Al Capone “Scarface” and “Birdman” Robert Stroud have spent their time in Alcatraz. This is an absolute must when visiting San Francisco!
11. Sausalito – Best Burger in Town
Part of my solo travels consisted of me joining day tours with my fellow hostel friends. One of these tours included the Sausalito – a hidden gem at the San Francisco Bay Area. This area is not only unbelievable quiet and peaceful, but it is known for exclusive hotels, fine dining and the best burger in the area. We were literally standing half an hour in line to get a taste of San Francisco’s best Burger at Hamburgers Sausalito. The taste was great, but you should understand that I am completely obsessed with In-and-Out Burgers.
12. Union Square
As a European traveler myself, shopping in America has always been a complete shopping experience. And shopping at the Union Square Mall has been a complete blast! The San Francisco Westfield Mall is the perfect opportunity for you to spend your money.
13. Cable Cars
Another must-do in San Francisco – using the historic cable cars. Can you believe that this system is already existing since 1873? The first testings of the cable cars began August 2nd, 1873! The fact that these cable cars are still used today, shows how historical and cultural involved San Francisco is.
So, go hop on a ride and experience San Francisco by Cable Car. For information about the routes and prices, check out: http://sfcablecar.com
14. Ghirardelli Square
If you don’t know about Ghirardelli chocolate, you’re missing out! I visited the Ghirardelli Square in between Christmas and New Years and it was one of the most magical experiences in San Francisco. Mulled wine, crisp air and … chocolate! The Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory makes you feel like you have entered a part of Willy Wonka’s World. Enjoy some hot cocoa while strolling around the shops and learn about the chocolate factory.
Planning to visit more places in the U.S? I will be posting more information under the tab: North America for more travel guides!