Golden Gate Bridge
The first thing I did on reaching the city was borrow my cousin's car and experience what San Francisco has been known for- the Golden Gate Bridge. And it was the most remarkable drive and even a better view, for the driveway from the City to the Marin County and back was not merely any highway road trip but a drive along what was once the longest suspension bridge. Today also, when I look back on that drive, it seems to be one of the most fabulously designed architectural masterpiece!
Chinatown became my favourite lunch spot whilst my stay at San Francisco. While each and every structure reeled of being the oldest Chinatown in North America, the souvenir shops and little takeaway hideouts spoke of the authentic oriental essence for which the place had stood for since the 80s. with a friend, I explored and checked out the representation of its fascinating history in a Chinese Heritage Walk.
‘The most crooked street in the world!’ goes the moniker. I bet some crafty settler decided to throw this, probably because he knew it would become a historic quirk a few decades down and just get incorporated into the cityscape façade, earning itself the unique and generally meaningless distinction of being a tourist hotspot that signifies nothing and yet stands for something. At least, plenty of tourists stand and pose for pictures.
This was one place that I could vouch for the best view of the city, as I had never seen San Francisco the way i saw it when I reached Alcatraz. It's intriguing history reflected in every inch of a step I took around the island. And as I walked amongst the walls that once imprisoned ingenious criminals like Al Capone and Mickey Cohen, the walls seemed to be speaking back to me about their military and ethnic history. While I did have a choice to be part of some guided tour around the island, I broke away from those creepy cramped cells and climbed up the stairs of the lighthouse for the most breathtaking view of the bay and its city!
Ferry Building, Pier 39... These are old edifices converted into lovely centres for indulging in some good grub. The Slanted Door is highly raved but I found it just about average. It wasn’t bad but it is nothing to rave about; unless you are a stranger to great food. But there were other places but I doubt if they are aiming any higher. Mama’s (a bit away) is a good brekkie place.
Once I reached the much talked about Fisherman's Wharf, it was difficult for me to decide where to start exploring the hidden experiences of the City of Bay. Truly called a tourist spot, one day seemed just too short a period of time. From the extraordinary view of sea lions at Pier 39, to the world famous statues at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, were the kind of sights I got to see. While the food was mouthwatering, I couldn't resist from choosing my favourites in the world fmaous clam chowder, fried fish and the well-known San Francisco sour dough. And this was just the beginning of my tour at Fisherman's Wharf. Later came the international hotspot Musee Mechanique, 1980's arcade games and Ghirardelli Square.
Golden Gate Park
While I enjoyed the drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, I was told not to miss out on the Park either. So off I went to unravel what seemed to me a plethora of interests merging at one place- the Golden Gate Park. While on one side I sipped on some exotic tea at the Japanese Tea Garden, on the other side the nature lover in me came alive seeing the exotic species at the Conservatory of Flower. As I walked further into the greens, I encountered an opportunity to walk along paths of history at two of the most famous museums- the California Academy of Sciences, which was a wonder in itself and then came the De Young Museum. And then I thought to myself, little did I know before I had left home for that one drive across the bridge, that I'll get to explore something much more than what I had expected.
So the sun had begun to hide behind the clouds as dusk drew above us and, along with my cousin and friends, I went to what they called the "Little Italy" of San Francisco. With pristine blue waters facing us on the shores, I stood on the North Beach and so did little treats from Italy; while we relished on pizzas at Italian cafes and bistros on one side, we ended our meal at the gelato patisserie and the tiramisu it offered on the other side. It seemed like the perfect end to my day as we then headed to Vesuvio bar to celebrate life the San Francisco way!
From here the route will take us through the heart of SOMA (South Market) and CBD (Community Benefit District). There are numerous shopping options and high-end restaurants here. But you won't be sorry about ditching them once you face the Embarcadero, Telegraph Hill or walk around Chinatown or gape at Transamerica Pyramid.
Cable Car Corner
The Cable car, you will do it once and never regret not doing it again. It is borderline touristy in the sense that you know you can indulge in it and not feel like hiding your face in rotting shame as these metallic screechy cars from the last century proudly pull you through the city like a prized ignorant ignoramus, visiting ignorant ignoramus that is.
6. Shopping at Union SquareThis refers to the central shopping, hotel, and theater district of San Francisco. The area got its name because it was once used for rallies and support for the Union Army during the American Civil War,earning its designation as a California Historical Landmark. Come here to visit the largest collections of department stores, upscale boutiques, gift shops, art galleries, and beauty salons in the United States.Union Square is a major tourist destination, a vital, cosmopolitan gathering place in downtown San Francisco, and one of the world's premier shopping districts.
Charles Bridge is a 14th century stone bridge linking the two sides of Prague. The open air gallery of beautiful statues which adorn the bridge walls make a stroll here more than worthwhile. The Vltava river flows beneath it and the enchanting towers of Prague Castle are visible from here.
The Monk's Kettle
Monk’s Kettle (3141 16th St.) is a San Francisco Bay Area destination. Beer Experts pair and select from 200 brews and match up their unique pub food providing the ultimate Gastropub experience. There is always a Beer Specialist on hand to pair the perfect Beer with the perfect dish. This neighborhood bar with and unbelievable beer list is worth the stop. Did I mention that they also serve amazing food? Thing gourmet Mac n’ Cheese, seasonal fare, and juicy burgers with quality indigents. The food here is outstanding and pairs well with beers listed.
Ritual Coffee Roasters
San Francisco’s coffee culture is legendary and on par with cities like Rome, Buenos Aires, Paris, and Seattle. Cafes form the vital social backbone of most neighborhoods and many are just as much cultural centers, performance venues and even living rooms for the city’s creative class as they are local businesses. And, in the Mission it is no different. Each cup of coffee is hand brewed at Ritual Coffee Roasters (1026 Valencia St.) at the Mission District’s hippest cafe and is sourced from a small and sustainable grower in one of the world’s top coffee growing regions. Besides the high grade cup of joe, Ritual is also the social center of bustling Valencia st, a hip and artistic area that is home to the city’s alternative set.
One of San Francisco’s most popular parks, and for good reason. Take in an impressive view of the San Francisco skyline from atop Dolores Park (Dolores and 18th St.), a distinctly urban green space shaded by palm trees and frequented by families and colorful characters alike. Grab a few items at near by at Bi-Rite (550 Divisadero St.) and picnic in the park while people watching and admiring the city views.
To begin your journey, enter through the ornate Chinatown Gate on Grant Ave at Bush St. A gift from the Republic of China in 1970 as a symbol of good faith between the countries, the bright colored pagoda topped doorway is like a portal into a tiny universe of bustling tourists and locals shopping for everything from live chickens to jade statues. Peruse in the many shops and wares on Grant Street just as it was decades ago. Chinese slippers, good luck charms, and mechanical trinkets are just a few of the items you’ll see by the basketful. So don’t be surprised to find a ribbon-adorned phallus in one of the storefront windows.
Mission Street itself isn’t going to offer much for shoppers other than thrift stores, Mexican pro wrestling masks, and a surprising number of shops selling cheap luggage. Just a block away, however, Valencia Street is starting to look a lot like its posh neighbor to the west, Noe Valley, though its boutiques and vintage clothing stores are decidedly younger and hipper. It’s also home to local favorite Ritual Coffee, perfect for a mid-shopping spree break.
Do lunch at Pizzeria Delfina (3611 18th St.; 437-6800), a stellar eatery serving truly exceptional thin-crust pies, rustic side dishes, and wines inspired by the flavors of Naples. A must try is their fresh Burrata. Though, the space is tight, and seating is limited, do expect a wait…but it’s well worth it. It is worth a trip for a memorable treat.
Cafe Trieste New Montgomery
Newly inspired to write the great American novel? Then grab a table and an espresso at the original Caffé Trieste (from City Lights walk north to Vallejo and turn right). Opened in 1956 by Giovanni Giotta, this Beat haunt has housed many a writer including Ferlinghetti, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Hirschman (Poet Laureate of San Francisco) and a young Francis Ford Coppola who wrote the screenplay to the Godfather here. Admire the archive of black and white photos on the wall or stay for the Caffe Trieste Saturday Concert series, the longest running show in SF since 1971.
Great Eastern Restaurant
For a yummy lunch and the best dim sum in town try Great Eastern Restaurant on Jackson Street between Wentworth Pl and Cooper Alley, an authentic experience complete with white tablecloths and aquariums of live delicacies. There’s usually a decent wait time but the food is well worth it. Highlights are shrimp dumplings (har gow), pork dumplings (shumai) and lava buns. If you miss out on the dim sum, Peking duck satisfies every time. After lunch, mosey over to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory at Ross Alley at Jackson St. The ‘non-Chinese’ origin of these cookies is comically illustrated in The Joy Luck Club when Lindo Jong finds a job at a fortune cookie factory in Chinatown. After a few attempts at translating the fortunes in Chinese, she realizes the cookies contain “bad instruction” rather than good sense. Observe how cookies are made and purchase them fresh—they even have more racy fortunes. Or try the egg tarts and lotus pancakes.
Ripleys Believe It or Not!
While I wandered around Fisherman's Wharf, the curious cat in me couldn't resist the famous Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum. As a kid, watching the show and reading it's yearbook was one of my favourite pass times. And when I got the opportunity to relive all those unbelievable, strange and unusual man-made sights on Earth, it didn't take me long before I entered the two-story iconic building. I got completely lost for hours in its numerous exhibits and creations of the most strangest yet quirkiest minds in man's history!
It would be almost time for sunset when we reach here. If it is so, it means we are on schedule. Like me, you may have a good fortune of catching a local fisherman at work trying to nab some dinner for the evening. Don't miss the chance of snapping the Golden Gate Bridge from Baker's Beach. It was truly a quintessential moment for me. The beach is a place to socialize with the plenty of fellow tourists or locals, giving you enough space to enjoy at the same time.
Walked to Japantown, around 45min. Oh yes you didn’t know ? SF not only have the best Chinatown but it has ALSO a Japantown !! So cute, give me a plane ticket for Japan RIGHT NOW.Okay enough of walking for today, I admit, I took Uber Pool to get home. For my defense I had to get ready quickly for an important event….
Mission Dolores Park
Alamo Square and his famous Painted Ladies, Castro (gay neighborhood), Mission Dolores Park. OMG let’s talk about this park for a second. It’s the best spot ever. It overlooks the whole city, I was mesmerized. Guess what, it was raining again. But, Mission Park, with the sun, a towel, some food, drinks, a book.. you feel me ? Per-fect spot.In short, one of my favorite cities ever, I’ll be back asap !! And if you want to see more here's my little video, share and subscribe if you'd like to see more about the USA
Visit Mission Dolores (Dolores and 16th St.; 415-621-8203), the city’s oldest building and first mission. Founded by Spanish settlers in 1776, the mission and neighboring church feature historic adobe architecture. Scenes from Hitchcock’s Veritigo were filmed in the church cemetery.
Take the Mason line of the cable car north to Columbus Ave. then travel south along Columbus Ave, past the slew of alfresco cafes and turn left on Kearny to the newly erected The Beat Museum. This tiny space packs a punch with carefully selected collection including Ferlinghetti paintings, Allen Ginsberg’s typewriter and first edition prints of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. The museum also sells books, memorabilia and hosts special events like book signings, readings and lectures. Need to replace your college copy of Kerouac or Kesey? Turn right onto Columbus Ave until you reach City Lights Bookstore. Founded in 1953 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, it is the quintessential Beat headquarters complete with publishing house for fringe writers and dharma bums (Alan Ginsberg’s Howl was published here). From existentialists to modernists, you can almost smell the clove cigarettes in a cloud of black turtlenecks like ghosts amongst the towers of books on the second floor of this Beat Poet’s paradise. They also sell journals so you too can create your own literary masterpiece.