A Seasoned Traveler Provides This List Of Activities
One of the toughest things to do in San Francisco is to figure out what to do because there’s so many options it’s easy to get confused.
As someone who has spent a lot of time (more than I can calculate, so trust me), here’s my list of Top 10 things to do while visiting in what locals call “The City.”
1.) Ride A Cable Car
It’s the quintessential thing to do in San Francisco. And it’s fun! I like to hang out on the outside railing, holding onto a pole. Inside, they are small and the wooden seats aren’t exactly comfortable but the distances are short and when the conductor rings that bell, well, it’s like you’ve taken a step back in time to an earlier era in America. I also use the cable cars for transportation to get from one part of town to another. Sure beats a cab or Uber!
2.) Ride A Bike (Or Walk) Across Golden Gate Bridge
In how many places can you put your feet on a city’s iconic landmark? Here you can by walking over the Golden Gate Bridge. Or, you can put bike tires to it; Blazing Saddles rental shops are everywhere. There’s a wide path across the bridge for walkers and bikers but if you’re like me, don’t look down; it’s a loooong way to the water. Once across, take pics and selfies from the lookout, then drop down into the cute little town of Sausalito. From there, you can keep riding or take a ferry back into the city, which takes care of #8 on this list.
3.) Have A Cable Car Cocktail
Yes, San Francisco has a signature drink and of course it’s the Cable Car Cocktail. It’s rum based and even orange, the same color as the Golden Gate Bridge. Where can you get one? This PubClub article provides a list of the restaurants and bars.
4.) Have A Drink At Pier 23 Bar
One of the best places to hang with locals (fun ones, ha!) is at this waterfront bar and restaurant halfway between the Ferry Building and Pier 39. Sit out on the back deck and soak in the scene – it’s happen every sunny of the week from about 3-7 and really rocks on Sunday afternoons.
5.) Have A Drink In The Original Irish Coffee Bar & Watch The Cable Cars
The Buena Vista is the home to the original Irish Coffee drink and it’s location just above the Hyde Street Cable Car turnaround makes for great viewing out of its huge windows.
6.) Do The Hop On-Hop Off Bus
The best way to see all of San Francisco in a quick way is to take the Big Bus Tours, the red bus with the open-air top. This bus goes all over the city and of course you can hop off and get back on, which means you can use it to explore areas as diverse as City Hall to Haight/Ashbury. It’s also quite the thrill to be in the open top going over the Golden Gate Bridge.
7.) Spend Time In The Marina District
This is there the young and fun of “The City” hang out and there’s small restaurants and fun bars along Chestnut Street as well as a San Francisco drinking iconic bar, Balboa Cafe, as well as a more bars on Fillmore Street and just up the hill on Union Street.
8.) Get On A Ferry
This is something you can’t do in most cities in the U.S. Getting around on the water and on a ferry is a cool way of getting a different viewpoint of San Francisco. (Sometimes really cool; so dress accordingly). Take it from the Ferry Building to Sausalito and/or Tiburon. While at the latter, stop at Sam’s for drinks on its deck; on Sundays this place is packed and is quite the social scene.
9.) Visit Alcatraz Island
This is something I’ve not actually done myself. I tried once because while showing my parents around it’s one thing my dad really wanted to do, but upon going to the ticket window I learned this is something you need to do in advance. It was sold out, and it likely will be if you wait so plan ahead for this activity.
10.) Go To Pier 39
If you encounter any locals during your trip, they will tell you to avoid Pier 39 like the the Bay Bridge in rush hour. Locals will tell you this about anything where tourists go, so in this case don’t take them at their word. It’s entertaining to walk around the place, seeing the crabs and seafood packed in ice in glass cases, have some chowder in a San Francisco sourdough bread bowl, have a drink by the outside fireplace at Fog Harbor Fish House. There’s also some cool things to do such as the Dungeon and the aquarium. Plus, you can look out over the fishing boats and sea (and here) the seals that are covering the docks.