I purposely ran a race in San Francisco because I’ve always wanted to visit this city. It seems so laid back and very diverse. In reality, it is. I actually found it similar to Vancouver. On my first day there, it was pouring rain so it felt like I didn’t leave home 😛 Thankfully, the skies cleared up the remaining days I was there. I wanted to share a few things I took away from this trip, as well as photos.
I love the Victorian houses scattered all over San Francisco, including the Painted Ladies on Steiner Street. No joke, I was humming the Full House theme song in my head while I was taking photos.
You also won’t miss some tall, distinct looking landmarks in San Francisco including the Transamerica Pyramid and the Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill. I didn’t have time to visit the Coit Tower but I got a pretty nice view of it from the Embarcadero. The Columbus Tower was a fluke, we happened to walk by after our lunch in Chinatown.
Unfortunately I didn’t have my DSLR to take photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, but I think my iPhone did it justice anyway. It is one of the most photographed bridges in the world and screams out San Francisco. San Francisco is known for fog, which hid the bridge from me on my first 2 days there. I’m glad it cleared up so I can take a decent photo of it. Multiple decent photos 😛 I definitely need to come back with a better camera and do this right. At least I was able to get some high quality photos of the Bay Bridge.
Hills, Hills, Hills
The hills of New Westminster and North Vancouver have nothing on these hills. They are steep and long so get ready for a good workout if you’re planning to walk around the city. I did enjoy climbing Lombard Street though. There are stairs on either side of the world’s most crooked street which people can access. That short block was painful to walk up after an already full day of walking. Thank goodness that the top of the hill is along a cable car route so you can get back to the shopping district or Fisherman’s Wharf pretty easily.
I got to know San Francisco’s many transit options: the BART, the MUNI (buses and metro) and the traditional cable car. The BART is excellent for getting to and from the airport. The BART ticket machine is kind of weird to use. I stumbled upon this YouTube video during my SF research and found it really helpful. I managed to grab my BART ticket really easily, thanks to that video. For the MUNI, I was able to download an app on my phone. I bought the 3-day pass which was great. It was valid for any MUNI bus, metro and also the cable car. It’s definitely worth it for the cable car since a single ride costs $7. A Clipper Card is also a good option if you plan to travel outside of San Francisco.
I found the transit system pretty easy to use. I did run into a few problems like unavailable bus stops, not enough routes to the Presidio (I had to use a different transit line to get there, not valid with my pass), and the metro only really services the Market Street area to the Embarcadero and beyond. Getting to Fisherman’s Wharf requires a bus, cable car or a long walk from the metro. When in doubt you can always call an Uber or Lyft. I recommend you download both apps just in case there aren’t enough cars available.
Mission District Murals
I LOVED the Mission District murals. We walked down Mural Alley (map) and Balmy Alley (map). I wish I could learn more about the background of these murals and the artists themselves. I’ll have to research it one day. Here are just a few of my favourite photos while exploring this neighbourhood.
The Mission District is a pretty hipster neighbourhood with lots of great shops, street art, and really cool restaurants. We stopped by Dandelion Chocolate and had a s’more. It was so delicious, I can still taste the ganache.
Pier 39’s Sea Lions
I’ve never seen sea lions in real life before so to see them en masse was definitely a highlight. I loved watching them sunbathing and lying on top of each other. They’re so cute. Just don’t feed or disturb them, there are signs everywhere telling you not to.
Pier 39 was definitely a tourist hotspot but it’s still a cool place to visit. If I had more time, I would’ve visited the shops, maybe have some ice cream and enjoyed the view of Alcatraz.
There’s so much public art around San Francisco. In addition to graffiti murals, there are also tons of other pieces to admire. Here are some of my favourites.
Have you ever been to San Francisco? What was your favourite part of the city? Leave a comment below.