In 2015, I was spending my summer in Southern California on a month-long study trip with my school. I had not initially planned on going to San Francisco, but after much talk with my fellow roommates at the hostel in Venice Beach, I decided to spend my next weekend up state.
From Chinatown I walked down to Union Square. Not much to see there, except go shopping. All the famous departments stores such as Macy’s, Saks and other popular retail and brand stores around there. I then hopped on the famous wooden cable cart from Union Square down to the waterfront to Fisherman’s Wharf.
I walked along the pier from the main Wharf to the popular Pier 39 and took a cheap tug boat cruise around the bay for $10. They’re pretty hidden, and they are situated behind the bungee jumping for kids section. You can even spot some seals lounging along the pier. Be sure to get the best seafood offerings at various restaurants around here.
You can also catch a boat or ferry to visit the famous Alcatraz prison island across from the harbour.
This was the day I scored that lucky $25 2-day ticket! It was a Saturday, so the traffic was crazy. Also, it was unusually hot for San Fran as it was 30 degrees Celsius!
The Golden Gate Bridge
It was the ideal day for visiting the windy and cold iconic Golden Gate Bridge which lies over the Pacific Ocean. I went up to the North Point Vista and then walked along the bridge back to the other side. A walk along this bridge is a must-do! I wish I could have rented a bike and cycled up to the bridge from the Wharf, but I didn’t have the right sports clothes with me.
My flight was late in the afternoon, so I went to the beautiful Botanical Gardens South of the city in the morning. Plus, I still wanted to use my Open Bus tour ticket. The gardens are huge, and they have some American buffalo on the grounds, lots of lakes, wide lawns and you can sit and picnic anywhere! If you go through the gardens, you come out on Ocean Beach, where Baywatch was actually filmed.
- The Golden Gate Bridge is super windy, it was refreshing on a really hot summer’s day, but otherwise bring a jacket if it’s not under 30 degrees!
- Avoid going to the Bridge on a weekend. Sadly, I had no choice but to go on Saturday. Traffic to and from the bridge was jam packed and it took hours for our bus to arrive and to get back to the city centre. Be warned.
- Read well on the area you are staying in. Yes, San Francisco is expensive but that’s a reality. Fellow classmates of mine thought they hit it lucky when they found cheap accommodation outside of the city, but the area was super dodgy and they witnessed a murder right in front of them! They spent the evening with the police as witnesses.
- The bus system in San Fran is actually pretty good. San Fran isn’t a big city and I think the public transport here is rather efficient and easy.