Home of Facebook, Google and the rest of the techie world, the Bay Area in California is as impressive as it looks. But no company can out-do the city of hills itself. San Francisco has been welcoming visitors since the Gold Rush in the ‘20’s, and hasn’t looked back. With it’s famous cable cars, historic landmarks like Alcatraz, and the most iconic bridge in the world, San Francisco is a sight for sore eyes. There’s more to do in this city in one day than you can possibly imagine. And I haven’t even mentioned the food. Check out the recommendations below that can’t be missed with a weekend in the bay city.
One of the most-visited tourist attractions in the city, Alcatraz is well worth the visit. Used as a maximum-security prison from the 1930’s to ‘60’s, ‘The Rock’ was home to America’s worst criminals. Today, you can take a self-guided audio tour of the landmark and visualise yourself living during that time when being stranded on the island was the way of life. The only way to visit Alcatraz is by tour, so make sure to book well in advance as tours sell out quickly.
Ride a Cable Car
Cable cars became the mode of transportation in the late 1800’s when the city’s popularity grew from the Gold Rush. Horses couldn’t handle the steep hills as well as accommodate the inflation of people, so cable cars were engineered to take the residents from one side of the city and over the hill to the next. Fast forward to present day and cable cars are still used for transportation. Majority of the riders now are tourists snapping photos hanging on the side as they ride up and down the hills of the city. But as touristy as it is, they cannot be missed.
There’s two ways to get to Twin Peaks; you can either walk to the base and hike up, or take transportation. Hiking is much more fun and invigorating, and you get a view the entire way up. At the top is a 360-degree view of the city, including the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s by far the best view of the Bay Area in the city, and is a nice change from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Many locals hike up the peaks and around to keep their legs in shape for the hills of the city. You also might be in luck and catch a glimpse of the rare Blue Mission Butterfly, as it’s the only place in the city where it dwells.
Golden Gate Park
The name is a bit deceiving as it’s not by the Golden Gate Bridge. Located in the super famous Haight/Ashbury neighbourhood, the massive park is filled with a variety of activities for any visitor. You can rent a bike and ride from one end of the park to the next (which is miles away and ends at the ocean!), check out one of the museums, hang out by the manmade lake, pack a picnic or visit the Conservatory of Flowers to see a selection of plant life from around the world. It’s also the birthplace of Earth Day, created in the 1960’s during the ‘Summer of Love’ era. If you like giant trees and a relaxing atmosphere, this park is for you.
Bike the Bridge
There are several rental bike operators in the city that provide bikes by the hour, half or full days. The best part about renting a bike is the freedom. You can ride anywhere in the city you would like, but the best tour route is taking a ride from the busy Fisherman’s Wharf out to the Golden Gate Bridge. The route goes along the water with beautiful views of the bay and Alcatraz. If you’re up for it, you can bike over the bridge and down the hill to the charming seaside town of Sausalito. Take in the unbelievable views of San Francisco across the bay, have a meal or a drink and take the ferry back to Fisherman’s Wharf. Bike rentals come with a helmet, lock and a map of the city for you to lookover and plan your bike trip.
Sample the sourdough
Sourdough bread was created in San Francisco, and leaving without having a sandwich or roll would be considered unacceptable. With a crunch outside and doughy inside, sourdough bread is one of the most popular types of bread in the states. One of the local favourites is the sourdough bread bowl. The bread bowl is filled with soup (usually clam chowder) and as you finish the soup, you get to eat away at the bread. Bakeries all over the city make these, and you can even take home a loaf at the airport.