San Francisco is a great destination from Los Angeles when we only have a few days of holiday. It’s close and accessible, but the atmosphere is totally different. Just look at the pedestrians, cable cars, bikes, fog and small shops at the streets of San Francisco! Compare them to LA and you’ll see how different they are.
We have compiled a list of places to visit, based on our two visits (each lasting one day). There are still plenty more things to see (and we will be going to SF many more times in the future), so if you guys have any suggestions, leave a comment down below!
Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is the face of San Francisco, so it was the first place we went to. Early in the morning we saw the red bridge rising from the fog; it was truly a sight to behold. From time to time, seagulls would fly between its towers. The day we left San Francisco on our second visit, we saw the Golden Gate Bridge silhouetted against the sunset. That, for us, is the image of San Francisco.
Union Square is a public plaza that we feel is the heart of San Francisco. Not only is it located in the downtown area, it’s always full with locals, tourists, businesspeople, schoolchildren…you name it. Now think about anything you may want when you are walking down the street. Food, maybe? Wine tasting? Music? Dancing? The Union Square has it all.
Lombard Street is always crowded, always interesting. The street has a distinctive, symmetrical shape that draws in curious tourists and photographers from around the world. We visited Lombard Street twice, once in autumn and once in summer. If you plan on taking photographs, we would suggest going in spring, summer or even early autumn), just so you can see the flowers in bloom!
Located by the water, the Fisherman’s Wharf is a popular tourist destination and a great place to look for good food, quaint little shops, fish markets and water tours. It’s close to Ghirardelli Square and Pier 35, two other places you should check out!
Originally a Ghirardelli chocolate factory, the Ghirardelli Square is now home to shops, restaurants and open spaces. Visit the Ghirardelli shops and view their extensive chocolate collection, then enjoy them as you sit by the fountains outside. When we were there, we saw many families and teenagers hanging out in the square. At night, with all the lights on, it would have looked magical.
Pier 35 and Pier 39
Pier 35 is by the Embarcadero neighborhood, which houses a lot of shops and restaurants (truly, San Francisco is a great place for food lovers). Be sure to visit the Ferry Building Marketplace. With its all-white exterior and tall clock tower, you won’t be able to miss it!
Along the waterfront, you can ride a bike by the ocean and enjoy the view. We stopped on our way to Pier 39 and sat for an hour, just talking by the waters and watching the seagulls fly. Some people fished. It was very peaceful.
Pier 39 is located just west of Pier 35. It’s a bustling place for both locals and visitors to enjoy a day out with good food, music and lovely little shops.
The San Francisco Chinatown is one of the biggest in the country and one of our favorite destinations in San Francisco. On our first trip, we stayed near the heart of Chinatown. Late at night we would go out and eat great Chinese food. There were so many shops, so many people, so many things going on.
Palace of Fine Arts
We didn’t spend a lot of time in the Palace of Fine Arts, which was a shame because we would have loved to stroll leisurely by the lake. The rotunda is majestic and the whole place is so peaceful. The Palace of Fine Arts is featured in many films…unsurprising, considering how amazing it looks.
We would have loved to go to Alcatraz, but haven’t had the chance. If any of you have been there, we would love to hear about your experience!
Alysta Lim & Athena Lim