USA City Reviews: San Francisco

I loved the US
If you'd not already gathered from my constant posts about it!
I will shut up about it one day ....
"but it will not be this day"
LOTR quote for you there ;)

We visited ALOT of states and cities in the space of 4 weeks and in that time we got a taster of each place and enough to know if I'm interested to visit again or recommend visiting to people.
I'm going to do a selection of reviews of places that I personally loved and want to encourage people to visit too as well as tips from how to get to and from airports / prices of attractions. 

San Francisco
I love SF.
If you can tolerate the constant changing of the weather you'll love it too. 
Always carry layers!

Getting from the airport:
We arrived at San Francisco Airport and chose to use the BART train to get into the city. 
If using this train make sure you research before hand which stop is closest to where you need to be and which coloured line you'll need. 
There are signs in the airport for the 'Airtrain' and 'BART' so follow these until you reach the coloured line you need.
Our journey was to the Civic Centre / UN Plaza stop and it took roughly 25 minutes from the airport and cost $9. Alot cheaper than a taxi.
One thing I will warn about it the homeless population, it is massive. We had no problems, but just be careful of your belongings if you're arriving late at night and walking around with suitcases or backpacks looking like a tourist. 

We were staying at the 'Good Hotel' on 7th St. 
It was just a few minutes walk from the BART stop. 
We had no problems at check-in and our room was great.
Very spacious rooms, TV, free Wifi, bathroom with shower & bath. 
We stayed there for 3 nights and it was great value for money.
There were lots of places to eat for breakfast on the same street and if you wanted you could use the gym & pool facilities at their sister hotel across the road.
The hotel also has bikes you can use for free but they go on a first come first serve basis.  
Its just a short walk from the Civic Centre Plaza and if you don't mind walking further you can reach the Union Sq in about 15/20 minutes. 
The staff were all very friendly and they have lots of maps and leaflets at reception of various activities to do in the city.

Getting around:
SF is a big city; do not try to walk everywhere. You will get tired very quickly once you discover how many hills there are in the centre!
Cycling (stick to the coast as flat) or bus tours are a great way to see alot of the city if you're short for time. We chose to do the 1 day Big Bus Tour which cost $45.

It covers all the main stops and because its hop on and off you can get off and go explore off the bus route. 
If you want to cycle we used Blazing Saddles and they have shops all over the city. They give great intros to the city and bike safety and can custom plan a route for you depending on what you want to see. Beware though that you're paying per hour so if you get delayed somewhere or lost you'll be paying for it. 

We did and visited a lot of the typical tourist attractions, which may not be the best way to experience what the city is like for locals but girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. 

The Painted Ladies at Alamo Sq are pretty to look at, it doesn't require much time and can be a passing stop on the way to the Golden Gate Park.
The park I would 100% recommend going to visit. 
Just a short drive or walk from Alamo Sq you reach the pan handle entrance. 
Fact: Golden Gate Park is bigger than Central Park in NY
There is so much to do and see in the park so if you have time dedicate a whole day just to the park. 
We unfortunately did not so we chose to visit the Japanese Tea Gardens. At $8 entrance fee (to non US residents) it is worth a visit. There is a cafe and gift shop (ideal) and the gardens are so beautiful with loads of gorgeous ponds and flowers. 
A quick walk round one of the lakes where you can rent pedalos or rowing boats and relax on the water. 
If When I return I will make sure to spend more time exploring the park and reach the end so I can get better views of the Pacific Ocean.

Its not a visit to SF without a visit to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Whether you take pictures from Fort Point, walk, cycle or drive across or get a boat under it, it is great to see! We drove across on an open top bus and then later cycled across.
Chances are that they'll be fog but when its clear its amazing.

We cycled from Fisherman's Wharf, across the Golden Gate Bridge and down into Sausalito. You can get the ferry back across to either Fisherman's Wharf or or the Ferry Market Building. 
The queues for the ferry were very long (it was a bank holiday) so if you have something booked for after your cycle make sure you leave plenty of time to get back in time!
Now I need to mention Sausalito. It is a small Mediterranean style town across the water.
It is beautiful.
I wish we had more time to spend here and I urge anyone going to San Francisco to make sure you allow yourself a day just to spend here. It has lots of shops and cafes and restaurants on the water and is very pretty.  

Alcatraz, the famous prison on the rock is so interesting.
 Make sure you book in advance! Tickets sell out fast so if you want to go make sure you book before arriving. Ferries start at 8:45am and you should put aside a few hours to visit the island. 
You can only buy from this website and adult prices are $29
You get stunning views of the SF skyline and GGB on the ferry across. 
The audio tour was really great and goes into a lot of detail about the inmates, staff, the building itself and any attempted escapes.

Pier 39 is a bit of a tourist trap but worth a visit. It is full of shops and bars and restaurants, all of which are probably more expensive than places outside the tourist areas. 
We ate at Pier Market and the food was delicious. It was worth the money and the line of people waiting to eat there showed how food the place was. 
Try to avoid the chain restaurants. 
I was really looked forward to seeing the Pier 39 residents; the seals.
Unfortunately they weren't there as it was their mating period (July). 

Fisherman's wharf is an area on the bay full of bars and restaurants. You can get seafood everywhere! There's loads of takeaway options if you want cheap and good food to grab on the go. 
Its a very busy area so expect queues and crowds. 

Palace of the Fine Arts is a beautiful area to visit. It is a very unexpected style building in the city but it is lovely. There is a large pond and you can walk around the ground for free. A great stop for a picnic or sit on the grass to soak up the sun. A short walk from here are the Lucas studios for any Star Wars fans ;)

If you want to travel around in a fun way I suggest you try out the Cable Car system that runs round the city. We queued for ages to get on one and then they just stopped them for no reason so we had to walk the mammoth hike that is Hyde St! It is literally the longest and steepest road every! But near the top of this road you will find Lombard St, the world's most crooked street. It is very busy with people either wanting to drive down for the fun or tourists walking in the roads trying to take pictures. From here you get stunning views of the city and over towards Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill. We never went but from Coit Tower ($7 to top of tower) you can get panoramic views of the city, as long as you don't mind walking up the masses of stairs to get up the hill!

Chinatown is a great area to wonder through, full of shops and restaurants and markets. You can buy all your souvenirs here at much cheaper prices than from Pier 39 & Fisherman's Wharf. They have loads of great juice bars for a refreshing snack. At the end of the main street in Chinatown you reach the Dragon Gate which leads you out to Union Sq. This is a good area for shopping and eating. Full of your typical high street & designer shops and chain restaurants. If you're ever out late and in need of dinner late, The Cheesecake Factory here stays open until 12am so very handy if you find yourself wondering the streets of San Francisco late at night trying to find somewhere open for dinner. The portions are massive too so you won't go hungry again!!

♡ G 
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