Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How to Explore San Francisco in Two Days [6/15]

We have arrived in the first big city of our road trip: San Francisco. After having spent 2 days driving north up the Pacific Coast Highway, we left the comfort of the Pacific ocean (even though we did still see it) and headed into the city. While we technically spent four days there, two of them were fully spent within the city, while the other two were spent traveling in and out of it. This meant that I had to come up with a plan on how to explore San Francisco (or at least all the major sights) in that time.




Day 1

Explore by public transport and by foot




1. Alcatraz Island



Alcatraz Island was the first on our list of sights to see. In order to get there, you have to take a ferry from Pier 33 in the harbor. You have to order the tickets online at least two weeks before. Use the link I have provided since this is the official tour site. You can find many others in the harbor, but they are not good at all. This is the only guided tour that actually lets you visit inside the prison. More on Alcatraz soon on the blog.


2. Fisherman's Wharf



Fisherman's Wharf is a neighborhood and popular tourist attraction in San Francisco. Fisherman's Wharf plays host to many San Francisco events, including a world-class fireworks display for Fourth of July, and some of the best views of the Fleet Week air shows featuring The Blue Angels. There is a sea lion colony next to Pier 39, which is the most famous pier of them all. You can find many shops, restaurants and tourist attractions there. It's worth a visit, but you will have to fight the crowds here.


3. Lombard Street




After Fisherman's Wharf you can continue west towards the start of the cable car rotation. For 7$ you can ride a cable car up the hill toward Lombard Street. This street is part of the Highway 101 which we were traveling on, on our first day, and because of the steep hills the road curves into the city. It's  a neat photo op, and one that will be on your way that day. There will be many tourists here so make sure to be safe, since the street is in use!


4. Inner City




The Inner City offers many great sights and spots, from the Washington Park, Liguria Bakery (great place for a snack), all the way through Chinatown (which I didn't enjoy that much to be honest). But this is why San Francisco is so great. You can walk by foot and see a lot. Unlike Los Angeles, which we would visit at the end of the journey, can actually explore San Francisco. It's very much like a big European city in that way.


5. Financial District




This will be a highlight of your first day here. The financial district is crowded but not touristy. You can feel the rush of the big city here the most. We had desert in the Cheesecake Factory that was located inside a Macy's mall next to the Union Square. It's a hub of modern stores and really great architecture. We enjoyed the financial district a lot.


Day 2 

Explore by car: The second day is best explored by car, because the places are too far away for walking and it will be really tough to get everywhere by public transportation.






1. Palace of Fine Arts



The Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District of San Francisco is a monumental structure originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in order to exhibit works of art presented there. We arrived in the morning of our second day here, and loved strolling around and exploring further. Plan a 30-60 minute visit in the palace. There are no entrance fees (except for the exhibits inside). The outside can be explored freely and you can park your car on the side of the street in front of the structure.


2. and 3. Golden Gate Bridge



There are a couple of spots from which you can explore this landmark of San Francisco: the Golden Gate Bridge. It's a must see spot, and one you can further experience in this separate post, but these two places around the bridge: Vista Point and Fort Point are fantastic!


4. Baker Beach


A resting place for the soul and the senses will be Baker Beach. After the busy city life this is a great place to just hang out and let the ocean waves rush over you. We spent an hour here, and since it's a public beach, parking is free. I wouldn't advise swimming here though, because of the strong currents. We had so much fun here, kicking off our shoes and walking barefoot along the beach. More images from the beach will follow soon!


5. Lunch in Louis' Restaurant


We grabbed lunch in Louis' Restaurant. They serve sandwiches and burgers. Obviously you can eat lunch wherever you wish, but we loved this spot, since it's located on the cliffs, overlooking the Pacific ocean! I had a great French dip Sandwich with Au Jus, the others a Sutro Sandwich (image above).  You can find their website here, including the menu.


6. Japanese Tea Garden




The Japanese Tea Garden is a popular feature of the Golden Gate Park. It's the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States, and this complex of many paths, ponds and a tea house features native Japanese and Chinese plants and trees. The garden's 5 acres (2.0 ha) contain sculptures and structures influenced by Buddhist and Shinto religious beliefs, as well as many elements of water and rocks to create a calming landscape designed to slow people down. Entrance is 8$.



7. Painted Ladies




"Painted ladies" is a term in American architecture used for Victorian and Edwardian houses and buildings painted in three or more colors that embellish or enhance their architectural details. One of the best-known groups of "Painted Ladies" is the row of Victorian houses at 710–720 Steiner Street, across from Alamo Square park, in San Francisco. It is sometimes known as "Postcard Row." This block appears very frequently in media and mass-market photographs of the city and its tourist attractions and has appeared in an estimated 70 movies, TV programs, and ads, including in the opening credits of the television series Full House.


So this is how we did it. I think it's the best way to explore the must see spots of the city within two days. I consulted my lonely planet guides and used google maps to figure out or game play. I think it worked out in the end. We especially loved the second day, where we could roam the city with our rental car, although San Francisco can easily be explored by foot and public transportation!


End of Part Six
To be continued...

36 comments:

  1. Once again, thanks for showing us and giving detailed information about this area. It is certainly very beutiful and there are lots of interesting things to see. On the second to last shots is that you and your sister?

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    1. Thanks Margaret. It's my friend Selma and I in that shot you mention. My sister Jasmina is the other girl in these images.

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  2. You covered a lot of territory, and with perfect weather. Great images all around.
    A city I love... and Bill's hometown.
    Great post!

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    1. Thanks Laura. I hope Bill will enjoy these. There is lots more to come from San Francisco.

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  3. Such a whirlwind tour! Great shots, Mersad, but yours always are.
    Thanks for linking up at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2015/11/sunset-on-bay.html

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  4. Wonderful photo's again Mersad

    I am glad for you that you have (had) such a wonderful trip and that you share this with us is very nice!

    Have a nice abc-day/- week
    Thank you for participating in 'our' meme, hope to may welcome your entry next week again !
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc.-w-team)

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  5. Hello, awesome tour of San Francisco. I love the Baker Beach shot and the pretty Japanese gardens. Beautiful collection of photos. Have a happy day!

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  6. A great tour of San Francisco. Thanks!

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  7. so much to see and you did it all. my favorites and what i woudl visit first is Lombard street and all the painted ladies. i love those old houses... what a wonderful trip you had....

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    1. I only wished that I could go inside them and explore. They are as cute as houses can be!

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  8. Ich hörte ja schon, dass San Francisco eine sehr schöne Stadt sein soll. Deine Fotos bestätigen das! Und weißte was, ich hab mich gerade in den japanischen Teegarten verliebt. Ich glaub ich muss mal nach Japan ;-D! Beste Grüße Anne

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    1. Das war genau unsere Reaktion als wir den Garten besucht haben :)

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  9. You covered a lot of ground in just two days! I've visited San Francisco many times and I love this city. Enjoyed this latest trip recap.

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  10. I spent 6 months working in San Francisco so it was truly fun to see your photos of a very familiar place. In fact, I have a good friend who used to work at that Old Navy store in one of your photos when he lived in SF. You have some gorgeous shots of the Japanese garden and your photo of the painted ladies is fantastic.

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    1. Thanks Sharon. We arrived at the Alamo Square just as the sun started to set, that's why the Painted Ladies images turned out so good.

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  11. You saw it all! What an amazing trip. I think Baker Beach is the one that really sells me on a visit.

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    1. Thank you Margo. Baker Beach is simply the best. Far off the city and not a tourist spot at all. It was an absolute dream and I will post more images from it in the upcoming posts.

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  12. Ah, it's one of my favorite cities and you have captured it it's beauty perfectly!!! As always!!

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  13. Interesting pictures. Thanks for sharing,perhaps saves me a trip there,as I can enjoy it through your eyes. :)

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    1. Aw. Thanks Ruth, that means a lot.

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  14. The architect of the Palace of Fine Arts was Bernard Maybeck-- His buildings still help make SF, Berkeley, and Oakland more beautiful. Nice series, Mersad.

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    1. Thank you Bill. More posts from your hometown are coming up next.

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  15. I've been to San Francisco many times and once all by myself. I've visited most of the areas you mention and agree they're all worth the visit. The city is someplace where I would return again and again. Your photos are absolutely spectacular!

    Leslie
    abcw team

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    1. Thanks Leslie. I think San Francisco would be worth the road trip alone. But since we were strapped for time, we really had to come up with a way to view the best of the best in each place we saw.

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  16. You must have spent some serious time in planning this trip in order to see all that you did in the short time you had. Your photos are amazing, as always. The Baker's Beach shot is great, and the shots from the Palace of Fine Arts and from the Golden Gate Bridge are equally gorgeous.

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    1. All the big cities on our trip were hard to get just right, but looking back at it, I think I made all the right descisions. Nothing was really left out. More from Baker Beach coming soon.

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  17. My old home. :-) Great photos. Hope you had a a chance to see some of Golden Gate Park.

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  18. Einfach nur wundervoll, und solch fantastische Aufnahmen. Habt ihr aber in zwei Tagen ganz schön viel gesehen und erkundet und mich freut es ungemein dass ihr solch ein tolles Wetter hattet. Vor allem mit dem Blick auf die Golden Gate. Absolut genial und ich danke dir auch für meine Erinnerungen.

    Herzliche Grüsse

    N☼va

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  19. Thanks for the tour, Mersad! Great shots!

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  20. I used to life in SF. Thanks for virtually taking me back. Beautiful city to visit (not to park though). :)

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    1. It's hard to find parking but if you follow my plan here, it won't be a problem in the "second day" portion of the post.

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  21. SF is my favorite US city, though I've been there only once. Lombard St is so freaky!
    ROG, ABCW

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  22. how can you not fall in love with San Francisco?
    Ciao
    Stefano

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  23. You hit all the highlights in two days! Wonderful! I didn't see the Botanical Gardens, which I remember, but you saw some things I missed! :-) It's so hard to see it all!!!

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  24. Sad sam se ponovo vratio na tvoje postove iz Kalifornije, pa mi je još interesantnije jer sam prošao kroz ova mjesta. Vidim da smo u San Franciscu manje više posjetili iste lokacije. Odlične su ti fotografije kao i preporuke za mjesta koja treba vidjeti. :)

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