I first visited SFO in the spring of 2017 as part of a 5 day stop over before heading down to LA for a tour. I immediately fell in love with the city. Strangely enough, I decided to return last November to explore a destination that had been on my bucket list for well over a year. YOSEMITE ( COMING SOON)
Firstly getting there. I didn’t fly directly but a flight from Vancouver is just under 2 hours. Upon arriving I thought I would be super ambitious and catch the BART. From the airport to Powell St Station the ride costs just under $10. For the price it was extremely comfortable aside from the man picking at his feet 3 rows in front. After getting out at Powell it was a 15 minute walk to my Hostel. Another place I was also returning to. USA hostels ( click here to read my review)
So here’s how I spent by one day in SFO upon forgetting how vast the city was and how many hills were about. 44 in fact. Thus, the itinerary I attempted to follow composing of 20893 steps, 8.8 miles and 54 floors was perhaps a little ambitious. Nevertheless.
First things first. Breakfast. Here’s also where I’ll add that when trying to pack in as much as possible a hotel/hostel with an included breakfast is 100% the way to go. ( especially if it includes bagels)
Equipped with a new found friend from the day before in Yosemite we joined part of the hostel walking tour. The tour initially lead us down to Union Square and on down into China Town. The oldest and most established one in the US and my personal favourite. FUN FACT. The Chinese Fortune cookie was actually create in SFO by a Japanese man. You can actually take a look around the factory and get your hands on a few free samples.
Following on from China Town you’ll find North Beach- Not a beach, more of a neighbourhood which is full of an abundance of Italian restaurants and cafes. So if Coffee, Ice cream and Pizza is on your agenda then you won’t want to give North Beach a miss. Also, if you’re into the kind of thing St Peter and Paul’s Church is definitely worth a meander around.
At this point we left the tour an in the sunshine we headed on up to Coit Tower. This ultimately means ‘hiking’ to the top of Telegraph Hill. One of the main 7 hills in the city with an elevation gain of 275ft. I would recommend heading up from Washington Sq on Filbert Street- if nothing else but for the panoramic views. Upon reaching the Tower you’ll definitely want to rest your legs and have some water.. If you have not done so already. After spending some time soaking up the views, perhaps even going to the top of the tower and hopefully not dropping your phone down a toilet ( yes, that happened) you can continue to follow down the steps on the adjacent side of Filbert. This will eventually bring you down to the Embarcadero which if you make a left turn it will bring you along to the infamous pier 39.
I LOVE PIER 39. Even on a rainy day ( which it had turned into ) I’m not sure what it is but I love the wooded planks that you find on piers and the quant over touristy shops found there. The seals are also definitely worth taking a peak at. You’ll normally find them basking on their own planks in the harbour. Don’ worry, they’ll also be there in the rain to. After seal spotting there’s nothing more enjoyable than popping into one of the shacks and ordering a hot clam chowder in SFO’s own sourdough bread bowl. That being said you can’t avoid the hauls of tourists which flock to the pier every day, that being said it is the perfect place to purchase some superb SFO souvenirs.
Rain still pouring we decided to get a closer look at the Golden Gate Bridge ( follow link) But that being said SFO is as previously mentioned HUGE and after getting a bit closer we decided to head back to our hostel via the Painted Ladies. We made our way up Filmore St which was such a good idea and a great discovery. Filmore offers an array of shops, boutique restaurants and cafés. Been given an opportunity to stay longer I definitely would have returned. That being said, the walk from Marina Blvd to the painted ladies does take around an hour ( hills included)
The Painted ladies are a well-known SFO landmark so I made sure I included them in my itinerary. Many of the Victorian/Edwardian houses were built between 1880 and 1915. This particular set of ladies were constructed between 1892 and 1896 and survived the devastating 1906 earthquake. More recently they were almost demolished due to plans for a freeway but thankfully the residents of the area campaigned against it! Thankfully!!
Cold and wet we decided to head back to our hostel passing via Fulton St passing by City Hall glistening in the dusk.
Returning to the hostel we were delighted to find a free wine and cheese night commencing. What a perfect way to end the day!