“San Francisco is a city of startling events.”

 – – Mark Twain’s letter to the Territorial Enterprise, dated Dec. 23, 1865

Fisherman's Warf Sea Lion

Fisherman's Warf Sea Lion

San Francisco is unlike any city in the United States. It has cold summers; warm winters and a large colony of resident Sea Lions.  Thirty miles away is Sonoma and an hour away is Napa Valley, America’s most famous wine region. The birthplace of companies like goggle and eBay , people in San Francisco are very entrepreneurial. Every body you talk to will probably have a business plan tucked in their file somewhere.

 In this blog, I’m going to talk about how to go around and what to see and do in San Francisco, California.

If you like walking, it is easy to get around San Francisco on foot but beware of the hills.

San Francisco

San Francisco View of the Bay

Some of the roads can have 45 degrees incline. Their Subway, the BART, is a good way to get around. The average one way fare within the city is around $3.00. If you are going to and From San Francisco International Airport it’s around $9.00 one way.  To get to the airport, shuttle vans are available for $11 per person. For parties of three or four, limos or cab offers a better rate, $38 one way.  Muni’s, their local bus system can take you almost anywhere in the city. One day passes are $11, three-days $18 and one week $24. This includes San Francisco’s iconic cable car. The cable car is a great way to get from Fisherman’s Warf to Chinatown to Union Square or to Embarcadero Station. Single rides are available for $5.

Union Square

Union Square

Union Square – San Francisco’s central shopping district. This is a great place to wonder around and shop. There are plenty of hotels in this area. It’s walking distance to Powell Street Cable Car station and  BART. West Field mall is on Market Street and the old U.S. Mint is nearby. A few blocks north of Union Square is Chinatown.

Chinatown Gate

Chinatown Gate

Chinatown – San Francisco Chinatown starts along Grant Avenue and Bush Street. This is where to find the Chinatown gate.. San Francisco has a large Chinese population. They migrated to the area during the gold rush and later helped build the railroads. Grant Ave. has Souvenir stores and restaurants. If you are looking for a market place to buy fresh fruits, crabs, fish and meats head over to Stockton Street. It runs parallel to Grant and it’s mostly where the locals do their grocery. There are also great Chinese bakeries along Stockton and Washington Street. This is a great are to grab a bite if you are on a budget.  As you go further north of Chinatown, you’ll hit North Beach, San Francisco’s Italian Town.

North Beach – This is the Italian town and there are plenty of coffee shops in this area.   With San Francisco’s awesome weather, you can pretty much sit outside all year round. A few blocks north of North Beach is Fisherman’s Warf.

Fisherman's Warf & Alcatraz

Fisherman's Warf & Alcatraz

Fisherman’s Warf – You must visit this area if it’s your first time here. Pier 39 is a two floor shopping and restaurant area extending out to the bay. There is a Marina as well as a Sea Lion habitat. Barges are placed along the bay for Sea Lions to rest on. Some of the Sea Lions migrate and come back annually; others have decided to make it their home.  Seafood in the Warf is pretty good but if you are looking for excellent crabs head over to Pier 41 or 43. That’s where they have the best crabs. Each restaurant has special Lemon Butter sauce. I ate at Nick’s #5 and they had a tasty spicy lemon butter sauce mixed with onions and garlic. Crab Sandwiches were also pretty good.  

The wharf’s where to take cruise ships and tours to Alcatraz. It’s pretty close to the prison island and you can get a good view of the Golden Gate. If you want to go to Golden Gate, bike rentals are available near Pier 39. There are lookout points before and after crossing the bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge – This Bridge was completed in 1937. The bridge was once considered impossible to build due to the foggy weather, sixty miles pr hour winds and strong ocean currents.

It ended up being built to withstand 100 mile per hour winds and earthquakes. The bridge is not exactly gold.  It’s  painted International Orange. The color was chosen because it blended well with its natural surroundings.

Crooked Street – The world’s most corked street is San Francisco’s crooked Street. Its a few blocks away from the Fisherman’s Warf at Lombard Street between Hyde Street and Leavenworth Street.

Grafitti at Haight

Grafitti at Haight

Golden Gate Park and Haight Ashbury – Haight is the artist area of San Francisco. You will see plenty of street performers, Graffiti walls and very artsy café’s and restaurant. It is a little like the SOHO of Manhattan or La Boca of Argentina. The only difference is its right next to the Golden Gate Park. For a tourist there is nothing spectacular about the park. It’s a little dirty and can be dangerous to walk at night.

Sonoma and Napa Valley – If you rent a car for a day or join a wine tour or have friends that can take you around, check out Sonoma and Napa Valley, America’s most famous wine region. Sonoma is home to Buena Vista Winery, the Valley’s very first winery. Most of the wineries are open for wine tasting and tours but they all close by 5:00p.m. Drive along the back roads from Sonoma to Napa to get a really nice view of the grape plantations. It’s comparable to riding the train along Italy’s Tuscan Region.

Hope this was helpful and happy traveling!