If I chose to live in one of the cities we visited on this adventure San Francisco would be right up there with Amman, Jordan as my top two. We arrived at night in San Fran after a bus ride from LA and immediately noticed how much colder it was! But after we managed to dig out more warm clothes and set out on our way to find our hostel, we quickly noticed all the cool little restaurants, cafes and shops surrounding us.
We stayed at the Pacific Tradewinds Hostel and we would highly recommend this place to anyone looking for budget accommodation in San Fran. A quick warning though…it looks really dingy on the outside when you first arrive at the building. The hostel is located right outside of Chinatown and at first I was ready to ream Skott out for choosing such a dodgy place for us to stay but once we went up the 4 flights of stairs to get to their front desk, we were relieved to find a really cute little common room with great staff and clean bunk beds. The location turned out to be really central to everything as well and we were able to walk everywhere we wanted to go.
So where did we walk to? Here’s what we recommend:
Take a walk all along the Piers.
You can literally walk for hours along the sidewalks and pathways lining the San Fransisco Bay. We recommend starting at the Ferry Building where you can pop in and shop their indoor marketplace for delicious organic fruits and veg, specialty cheeses, coffee shops and more. Find yourself some great eats for a little picnic and then head in the direction of Fisherman’s Wharf (this is a little touristy but still neat to see).
Walk Yourself Down to a Giants Game
Watching pro baseball is SO much cheaper than hockey or football. If you go online you can grab nosebleed section seats for around $10. Spend the first couple of innings in your seats then scout out something closer to move to when you go for your garlic fries and hot dog. (Yes…I said garlic fries. They are AMAZING).
Walk Back to Fisherman’s Wharf and Rent a Bike to Head over the Golden Gate Bridge
This ride was one of the best bike rides we experienced on the trip. Even if you’ve seen pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge a million times before, it is still thrilling to cross over it on bike. The view is amazing and the misty fog just adds to the adrenalin you’ll feel riding that high over the ocean water.
On the other side of the Golden Gate bridge you can make your way to Sausalito. This beautiful town is full of immaculate, giant houses and a small main street with cute little shops and restaurants. If you’re feeling really gung ho you can continue another 7km or so to Old Mill Park and get a chance to see some ancient redwood trees. It felt like being in a story book!
Walk through Little Italy & Chinatown
Both of these neighbourhoods are quite central and easy and safe to walk through. You can find some excellent restaurants to taste authentic treats like Italian Gelatos and pastas or Chinese dumplings (try the bbq pork). Walking through Chinatown reminded me of our food tour in Bangkok.
Then take a break from walking and GO ON A WINE TOUR!!
It would be a darn shame to be in California and miss out on touring the vineyards of Napa Valley! There are many different ways to enjoy a day of tasting, but we highly recommend Platypus Tours. You’ll take a ferry over from San Fransisco and then jump in their van so no one has to miss out…the driving is taken care of. We toured four vineyards:The David Fulton Vineyard, Ballentine Vineyards, Castillo de Amorosa (which actually is a castle), and Andretti Vineyard. Each of them were unique and different and the wine seemed to just get better as the day went on.
As long as you keep yourself out of the tenderloin district, you really can’t go wrong in San Fran. Ultimately I think the reason I love San Francisco so much is the combination of big city, green spaces and ocean with plenty of ways to explore all of these on foot or on bike (we heard the public transportation is pretty good too). I loved that you can find so many independent stores and restaurants instead of big boxes and chains. And since I’m a Canadian girl, the chilly cold that you get in the morning and evening just makes me feel alive!