This is my third and favourite visit to San Francisco yet. Just get a cab from the airport as you don’t save time or money by booking online. Bring layers as summer is not what you expect.
We stayed at the highly recommended Handlery Hotel in Union Square and its location, breakfast, service and comfort was excellent. It’s close to fabulous shops and close to the Westfield Mall and trams.
A must is Cafe Bastille, in Belden Place and wine, chocolate or cheese tasting at Eno Bar, opposite the Handlery Hotel in Geary St. Sensational.
The Ferry Building has amazing organic and artisanal places to eat at and buy products. Make sure you stop at the various other piers on the Embarcadero towards Fisherman’s Wharf.
Pier 33 is where you go to Alcatraz. Book online, well in advance for a night tour. It’s excellent, affordable and includes a return ferry ride and your own personal audio tour.
We walked but you can hire bikes, and visit the Marina District to see the jaw droppingly, beautiful Palace of Fine Arts. An absolute MUST. We meandered through the Presidio district which is being restored and came across some fab houses. Then Fort Mason and Crissy Field. Walking across the Golden Gate bridge, was such an experience. Once you exit the bridge, through the carpark and around the corner to the right, you can take a bus to Sausalito. Note bene; the bus only goes hourly.
Sausalito is a quaint town and you can ferry back easily but this is not the case if you have a bike, due to the volumes. I would recommend leaving early and biking back, or sharing a cab with others to take you and your bikes back.
Golden Gate Park was worth a visit. In the park, we enjoyed the Japanese Garden which is free M. W, F, 9am to 10am or $7USD pp. Big tip: make your way inside the National Gallery of Modern Art and head to level 9 to see a majestic 360 degree view of the city and park. This is free and not advertised.
We headed to Twin Peaks and the Castro gay neighbouthoods and then the Mission District. We ate in the recommended Valencia St. Make sure you find the famous mural alleys; e.g. the Clarion alley which was amazing.
North Beach has an amazing array of Italian restaurants and the food is delicioso. We ate at Pinnochio which was perfecto. Washington Square houses the beautiful Sts Peter and Paul’s church. Go see the longest running musical in San Francisco; Beach Blanket Babylon at Club Fugazzi in Green Street. This was quirky and enjoyable. Book online.
If you have a car, drive to Nob Hill and Pacific Heights to see the stunning, huge mansions. See the Coit Tower to take in more amazing 360 degree views of the city and find the stunning Napier Lane nearby.
At Alamo Square, you find the famous Painted Ladies. A must is also finding the amazing, hidden Secret Staircase.
We topped off our amazing final night eating at the wonderful Mediterranean restaurant, Bursa, in the suburb of West Portal. The food was sublime, especially the lamb kebab served on a skewer with peppers, onions and greek salad.
San Fran has so much to offer.