My California Pacific Coast Highway road trip ended in San Francisco, a city that made my inner walker very happy. Unlike its southern sibling, Los Angeles, San Francisco has more of a “go out and explore” feel to it. My checklist of things to do here could go on for dozens of pages, but with only two days and a half available I had to keep my priorities in check. From gorgeous nature spots, dramatic city view points, delicious food, and exciting tourist spots, San Francisco had me going up and down the hills to keep crossing more and more items from my endless list. Although famous for its constant fog, I was in luck as there was no fog to be seen for the duration of my stay.
Muir Woods National Monument
My first visit was to the redwood forest at the Muir Woods National Monument, located north of the city. Since I reached SF with 6 hours left of my car rental, it meant driving across the Golden Gate Bridge. The downside was that I hit rush hour so the experience made my inner driver both excited and cranky at the same time. But once I got past the bridge and the traffic cleared out I was happy that I chose this to be my first stop.
The national park has quite a few trails for exploring the woods and enjoying the company of these old and very likely wise trees. The advantage of going off the beaten path on these trails is the lack of loud and obnoxious tourists. Because no matter how many signs the park has put up to keep silent, there will alway be that one person who feels the need to blast Rihanna’s latest song from the speakerphone while walking around.
From Muir Woods I headed to Twin Peaks to catch the sunset over the city. After many ups and downs and a few missed streets I finally made it up, where I was greeted again by my constant friend from this trip – the annoyingly strong and cold wind. Getting out of the car instantly made me miss my Canadian winter jacket. But I was brave, and I stood my ground to take some wonderful pictures of the city covered by the soft light of the sun setting. After seeing this view I was ready to hand over my rental car and explore SF by walking, like a true tourist.
Fisherman’s Wharf and the Waterfront
I spent half of my first full day in the city by walking around the Fisherman’s Wharf and towards the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge to get better views of this landmark and of all the other cool stuff on the way. Most people who go to SF take a tour to Alcatraz, but I decided to pass on this occasion. I was happy with taking a picture of the island from the shore and moving on.
Once I reached the Bay Bridge I headed towards the Coit Tower for more of the beautiful panoramic views. Standing tall on top of the Telegraph Hill, the tower seemed close. But my judgement of the distance was quite skewed as I later realized, when I had to go up the actual hill. Getting there felt like a full gym workout. No wonder people living in SF always look so fit.
More Waterfront and the Palace of Fine Arts
I spent the second day exploring the waterfront again, as I decided to walk from the Fisherman’s Wharf all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge (6-7 km). On the way there I made a stop by the Palace of Fine Arts. One of the remaining structures built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, it has a very different architecture compared to the rest of the city. It almost feels as if this place is somewhere outside space and time.
Golden Gate Bridge
As part of my plan, I was hoping to see the sunset from somewhere around the Golden Gate Bridge. But due to factors outside of my control, it wasn’t in the cards this time. I did get to cross the bridge “the pedestrian way” and to spend a bit of time at the vista point from where the entire Bay area can be seen.
The Vivian Leigh Breakfast Special
As I may have mentioned before, I am a sucker for breakfast food. I rarely have it in the morning as I am not a big breakfast enthusiast but I am all in for having it for brunch or even dinner. A few steps away from the Fisherman’s Wharf, the Hollywood Cafe is the place that made me extremely happy with its great Vivian Leigh Breakfast Special. By far my favourite place to eat in the area.
And this concludes my California road-trip. Two and a half days after getting to San Francisco, I was boarding a plane back home wondering how did the time go by so fast. Going back is definitely a must, but until then I have the pictures to remind me of all the great things I saw and the summer to keep me company.