Whist we were boiling in a 114F hot spring a guy who we was talking to described San Francisco as the cosmopolitan jewel of America, and it is probably not far from the truth. San Francisco is actually quite small, and is the second most densely populated city in America after New York. What makes San Francisco such a popular tourist destination is the world famous Golden Gate Bridge, but that is not the only reason to visit, San Francisco is also home to the most famous prison in the world The Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. San Francisco is known as the foggy city because on most summer days the city is covered in fog. This can cause it to get very cold, so if you are planning a trip to sunny California and want to visit SFC, make sure you have at least one jumper and pair of trousers. But don’t let this put you off!
San Francisco is a small city but there is a reason that it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in California, there is so much to see and do.
The Golden Gate Bridge
So this is an obvious one, and something that we are sure you was already planning to do but hopefully we can give you some pointers on the best way to do it. Due to a dedicated bike path cycling is by far the best way to experience the bridge. Once you get to the other side be sure to put in the extra effort of cycling up the monstrous hill to the viewing area. This is where you will get the best photo! From here it’s a long down hill approach to the beautiful town of Sausalito. Take some time to explore, and when you are ready just hop on the ferry back to SFC.
Want a free bike? Head over to “Basically free Bike Rentals” and pick up a bike for about £22. The basically free part is that they will give you a £22 gift voucher to use in their sports store, that you cycle right passed on the way to the bridge. We picked up £44 worth of Cliff bars, that’s food sorted for weeks!
Alcatraz is one of our highlights from travelling America. Spend a day here and really pay attention to the audio tour and read all the information boards, the stories that they tell are unbelievable. Make sure you take time to explore every inch of the penitentiary inside and out.
Due to the popularity you must ensure you check the availability of the Alcatraz tours before you book your SFC trip, they can be booked up for months!
Fisherman Wharf is a very popular area on the north waterfront of SFC. With countless restaurants and food stalls, shops and arcades, there is enough here to keep anyone occupied. No trip to Fisherman’s Wharf would be complete without paying a visit to the seals. You will probably hear them before you see them.
Hostels in SFC seem to be a little expensive at £20 per person for a shared dorm. Hotels start at £50 but you will probably find yourself in the Civic Center district. This is the roughest part of SFC with many homeless etc roaming the streets. We did stay here and had no trouble but be warned.
If you can, bring enough food to last the duration of your stay. Eating out is not an option unless you are on a lavish holiday and don’t mind spending £20 on a small pizza. There is a selection of supermarkets in the valley that are “reasonable” considering the location so you can pick up fresh produce when required. The camp sites offer fire pits with griddles for cooking but I would recommend picking up a portable camping stove before arriving (Walmart £20 with gas).
Getting around central SFC is like taking a journey back in time. It’s here where you can experience the worlds last manually operated, chain driven, cable car system. Its quite bazar hearing the chain churning below your feet as you step over the lines. For those who are not afraid of walking SFC is small enough that you can avoid any transportations costs.