Playing Tourist in San Francisco

San Francisco is a city built on tourism.  From the famous skyline to the gorgeous Golden Gate Bridge framing the blue bay waters, San Francisco is easily the most beautiful city in the country.   Aaron hadn’t really done the San Francisco tourist thing, so when we weren’t running 13.1 miles up the hill of death during our half marathon, we got to as many of the sites as possible.

GETTING AROUND:

I personally think renting a car in San Francisco is nuts.  Unless you have inner city driving experience, the hills, 8 way intersections, and pedestrians will probably cause some stress. Most hotels charge between 30-50 dollars a night to park, and the CHEAPEST parking garage I’ve ever found was $6 an hour.  Taxis aren’t too expensive if you stay within a few miles.  We paid between $10 and $20 for about a 5 mile radius.  I highly recommend the $14 Day Transportation Pass.  This gets you unlimited rides on the famed Trolly, Street Cars, and City Bus (MUNI) for 1 day.  They can be purchased at Powell and Market by the Trolly Hub.  I believe they also have 3 day passes available.

STUFF WE DID:

Fisherman’s Wharf: Not too functional as a port, but lots of restaurants, novelty shops, and an aquarium.  Starts at Pier 1 and goes all the way down to Ghiradelli Square.

Pier 39: The most touristy of the piers on Fisherman’s Wharf.  You’ve got your Hard Rock Cafe, your aquarium, your vintage carousel, and all sorts of stores.

Hyde Street Pier: A first for both of us, this pier is at the end of the wharf.  It’s kind of a museum with historic ships and buildings.  Free (donations accepted), admission charged for boat walk-throughs.

Trolly: One of the most iconic parts of San Francisco. The main “hub” is at Powell and Market, but you can get on at just about any block along their route.

Street Cars: These vintage street cars will take you from Fisherman’s Wharf all the way up Embarcadero and then up Market to the Castro.

Lombard Street: The “crookedest” street in the world.  You can drive down (and deal with the tourists who jump in your way for a picture), or take a walk down.

Ghiradelli Square: At one point this was the  factory for Ghiradelli chocolate.  Now it is a chocolate store and ice cream parlour.  I think their sundaes are a San Francisco MUST.

City Hall: One of the most impressive buildings I’ve ever seen, especially for a city hall.  JLo almost gets married here in The Wedding Planner. The Opera House, Symphony, and Ballet are all right across from the City Hall.  Beautiful buildings, and definitely worth catching a show if you can.

Ferry Building: Another iconic San Francisco landmark.  This is where Fisherman’s Wharf starts at Pier 1.  There is a market inside, and the Occupy San Francisco movement is stationed right across.

Farmer’s market: Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning, there is a farmer’s market in front of the Ferry Building.  Seeing as how California produces some of the best crops in the country, the selection was amazing.  We picked up some honey and jam, but if we lived here, we’d definitely be buying some fresh fruits and veggies.

Biking the Golden Gate: Aaron convinced me to ride a tandem bike  across the Golden Gate Bridge (I was scared the whole time).  The route is undeniably beautiful though. There are several rental places along the wharf.

Chinatown: I’ve never been to China, but a walk around some of these streets makes you feel like you’re in a different country (the largest Chinese population outside of China lives in San Francisco).  Plenty of restaurants and some great souvenirs.

North beach: Also known as the Italian District, this neighborhood has the best Italian food and the best bars.

Union Square: Where all of the nice shops are (Saks, Neiman, Barney’s, Bloomingdales, Chanel, Louis, Tiffany’s, Burberry, Prada, Hermes, etc. etc. etc.).  Obviously one of my favorite places to hang out!

TransAmerica Pyramid: I’ve never actually been inside (I don’t even know if you can get in), but this building is what sets San Francisco apart from other skylines.

As much as we wanted to see everything, that was as we could fit in.  There is of course the Coit Tower, Golden Gate Park (and Japanese Tea Garden), Japan Town, Haight Ashbury, the Victorian House Row (I don’t know the real name, but you know what I’m talking about), the Castro, AT&T Park, and Candlestick Park.  There is really too much to see and do in San Francisco and far too many beautiful sights to capture on camera, but we definitely enjoyed our time there (as if it is possible not to), and will hopefully get back there in the near future!

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