San Francisco - Our (Mini) Guide to The City
San Francisco is one of those magical giant cities that is a must-visit at some point in a lifetime. This city is home to the Golden State Warriors (who just won the NBA Finals and had a massive celebratory parade with more than a million attendants), the spectacular Golden Gate Bridge, the infamous Alcatraz Island, and a melting pot of culture and beauty from all over the world. From Marin to Daly City, South San Francisco to Lands End, Chinatown to Ghirardelli Square, and Dogpatch to Pier 39, San Francisco is teeming with endless art, delicious food, history, culture, and life - day and night the city glows, providing with wonderful experiences at every corner.
The San Francisco Bay Area also happens to be our home and where our headquarters are located, so it only seemed fit to write a sort of a guide highlighting all the things we love so much about the city. Unfortunately, there's too many cool spots and places to write about as each experience always turns out to be different than the previous, so we instead have picked our top places we think will be the most noteworthy and will show the real charm of the city for you. For today's UMME Writes, we have your (mini) local guide to the melting pot city, the city that shines golden, and a city that never sleeps, San Francisco, California.
Coming all the way from the state with a golden frame of mind, San Francisco is definitely a city full of dreams and adventures. From the tech businesses with headquarters that line the skies, trolleys that travel up and down the long and tall (and almost impossible to hike) streets, the very cold waters full of breathtaking sea life, and the beautifully built bridges that connect the city to the surrounding land, San Francisco is surely a sight to be seen. Hike up to Coit Tower from hidden steps to a view like no other, drive across the Golden Gate to the Marin Headlands and see and experience history and the Bridge in a unique way, or head to Twin Peaks to see the Bay Area stretch into the far beyond. With so much to do and see in this one city, it may seem at first daunting to plan out an afternoon or weekend full of exploration; the cool part about San Francisco, though, is that you will always discover something new every time you visit. So, to help you in your adventures of this stunning city, here's a list we've compiled of some must-see spots we truly love to visit and that we think you will love too. We hope you enjoy this mini guide and without further ado, let's jump into our first spot.
THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE: (Pictured above) Our first and top location you must see when visiting San Francisco has to be hands down, the Golden Gate Bridge. More than ten years of planning and four years of construction went into creating this landmark that has become the symbol of the Bay Area and California throughout time, landing it the title of "one of the seven wonders of the modern world". The Golden Gate Bridge was opened back in 1937 and has since then become a must-see treasure of San Francisco to everyone who travels here and on a clear day, can be seen from many miles away from Berkeley to Marin to even mountain and hill tops in the surrounding cities.
PIER 39: Next on our list is Pier 39, a location filled with cool shops, great eats, and beautiful views. Crowds of tourists and locals alike flock to this bayside pier for great food from places like this donut shop and this local favorite, the sea lions that lay most of the day and sunbathe in the warm California sun on floating docks lining the side, and views of the San Francisco skyline as well as Alcatraz Island, Treasure Island, and even the Golden Gate Bridge (on a clear day). With so much to do, this famous location will be sure to satisfy your inner foodie, adventurer, and will leave you wanting more.
HAIGHT-ASHBURY: Looking for some real San Francisco culture? Then look no further, for the Haight has got you. Home to the second and famous Amoeba record store, great thrift shops, hip and classic restaurants, great people-watching, and a more authentic experience, Haight-Ashbury is truly the place to check out at least once on your journeys through San Francisco. During the mid-1960's, this was the place of Hippie culture, where young people from all over would flock to the famous intersection of Haight and Ashbury looking for love and peace. As for today, it's definitely a place to see, one full of culture and charm of San Francisco that will leave you in love with this city.
Another hidden gem most San Francisco visitors and residents don't really take the time to visit, Lands End is a beautiful location with views of San Francisco like no other. Of the beaten path (literally, figuratively, and otherwise), the Coastal Trail is really what makes this place special and a must-see, allowing you to take in all of the things this amazing location has to offer, including jaw-dropping views and even a labyrinth in the middle of the ocean that will take your breath away. You can even see three ships that were wrecked on the sharp rocks and choppy waters when it's low tide, one dating back from all the way in 1922! With so much to see in such a beautiful location, Lands End is truly a sight to be seen for anyone traveling to San Francisco.
UNION SQUARE: The ultimate spot in San Francisco for your shopping needs (next to the Westfield Mall, of course) Union Square is filled to the brim with high-end shopping stores, delectable restaurants, and views of the San Francisco cityscape you will love. A historic landmark, this large plaza was actually once used for rallies and support for the Union Army (hence the name) during the American Civil War! Today, Union Square remains a must-see all year, but the best time to visit has to be during the holidays as they put up a beautiful gigantic Christmas Tree as well as open up a large ice-skating rink for those fun evenings with family and friends after a long day of shopping. During the warmer months though, Union Square is a perfect place to stop and rest after a long day of adventure and grab a bite to eat from some of the many delicious restaurants in the surrounding area. All in all, this mid-city plaza is a must-see for all visiting San Francisco and will be sure to make it on your list of must-come-back locations.
GOLDEN GATE PARK: Next on our list is Golden Gate Park, home to the infamous Hippie Hill, the De Young Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, the Legion of Honor, beautiful views of San Francisco, beaches, and even buffaloes grazing in fields. Whether you desire a more serene experience like an afternoon in the Japanese Tea Garden (which actually happens to be the oldest in the US!), a walk-through history at the two museums and the Legion of Honor, or to relax by the ocean at Baker or Ocean Beach, Golden Gate Park is a necessary stop in your journey around San Francisco.
LOMBARD STREET: Named San Francisco's "crookedest street", Lombard Street is our next stop on this San Francisco guide. The steep, hilly street is truly a sight needed to be seen to believe, with stairs and classic Victorian houses lining either side and cars weaving their way through the sharp curves down. Located in Russian Hill, Lombard Street shows just how unique and special San Francisco is and will surely be a memorable part of your visit.
COIT TOWER: Opened back in October of 1933, Coit Tower (also known as the Lillian Coit Memorial Tower) is a 210-foot tower in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood of San Francisco that offers breathtaking 360-degree views of San Francisco and beyond. Reach this historic landmark either by climbing the stairs that line the side of Telegraph Hill or drive up the latter side, with views at the top that will be sure to take your breath away. Beware of very busy times as the line to get to the top can be quite long, but once you reach the top you will be happy you waited... just take in the views, the wind, everything that is before your eyes as it will truly be one memorable experience you will want to do again.
Last but not certainly least, our next and truly one of our most favorite locations has to be THE PALACE OF FINE ARTS THEATER. This stunning structure was built originally for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition and is now one of the most photographed sites in all of San Francisco. Day or night, this towering piece of beautiful history is glamourous, as during the day you will find all sorts of beautiful wildlife and photography moments and during the night time it is lit up, showing its true magic. With its towering Beaux-Arts domes and pillars to its fountain and city backdrop, The Palace of Fine Arts is the perfect addition to any San Francisco adventure and will leave you wanting more.
We hope you have enjoyed this mini guide to our most favorite spots in San Francisco and that this has made you want to visit the city with a golden state of mind. Let us know what your most favorite San Francisco spots are and where we should travel to next. For now, thank you for reading and may your inner adventurer take you to far-away places of beauty, excitement, and pure happiness.