The City By The Bay, and a lovely bay it is. San Francisco is a fascinating city, with numerous landmarks and things to do that characterise it and make it one of the main places to see in California, if not the States.
I was lucky enough to start my USA roadtrip here a few years ago. From Melbourne there are a number of airlines that will fly you the 14 off hour journey, and the lucky thing about flying to America is you arrive on the same day you left! Unluckily the time difference curses you with a 2 day journey home, but thats neither here nor there.
One of the most interesting thing about San Fran is Alcatraz Island. It’s an old prison island, only a short ferry ride from Fishermans Wharf, and was literally functioning right up until 1963! Once you get over there, you pay for an audio tour. Nothing makes walking around an ex prison island, that walking around it with a bunch of people who are not talking, and following directions and information through their ear phones! I think all the different languages follow a different route as well, so everyone is walking about, reminiscent of ghosts, staring into empty cells that once held federal prisoners. It shut down largely after the extreme cost to keep it running as was reopened on the main land, whilst obviously still staying open these days for tourism.
There are 2 main areas to stay if you’re after accessibility, safety and fun. Union Square is, in true San Fran form, all about hills that hold clubs, bars, restaurants and huge department stores like Macys. If you head here in Winter, you’ll also be treated to a huge ice rink! Fishermans Wharf is either a nice long stroll, a quick cab or tram ride away, and as mentioned before is where you’ll find the ferries. There are also an amazing collection of seafood restaurants, where you can enjoy a cocktail or two and some local foods right over the water. Somewhere to steer clear of though is Market Street, especially at night. Although not, in my experience, dangerous, it is filled with homeless people and lingerers. Due to the year round sunny and vibrant weather in San Fran, sadly homeless people flock here to escape a cold night.
Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge is an experience in itself, but once you’re on the other side there is so much to do! Theres a little town on the other side named Sausalito, where the coffee cups as big as your head, the town has a lovely chilled coastal feel, and you can see the big city through the fog on the other side!
The Muir Woods are an awesome national park to visit. For people 16 and over, entrance fee is $7USD. The trees trunks are rounder than 15 people standing back to back, and probably higher than double that upwards! They cover the ground and you can hike up through them, though for the non athletes its not too exhausting and there are heaps of routes to follow!
After all of this, your trip in San Fran cannot be finished without heading to the Napa Valley for some excellent local wines! You can organise transfers and days trips with local companies who will take you and drop you back in the city. We were luckily enough to visit about 4-5 wineries and try all of the wines, beers and snacks along the way. My favourite (and I so apologies, I can’t remember the name!), served a small tray of red wine, in chocolate shot glasses – Amazing!
After you’ve eaten your way through the seafood delights, shopped yourself silly and experienced a bit of city meets country, you can hire a car and drive the coastline to LA, or head to the oh so excellent Las Vegas!
Written by Madelin Baldwin