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My weekend getaway to San Francisco can be summed up in just one word and that’s foggy. Foggy in the physical sense – there was a lot of low hanging cloud when we were there! And also foggy in the sense that it flew by so fast that it was such a huge blur.
I’ve long had a fascination with San Francisco, passing through it frequently on road trips with my parents as a kid, but I hadn’t been there much as an adult. In many ways, it’s similar to Vancouver, but just a way cooler and more happening place. While I had my cell phone stolen on my last visit in 2010 (something I was desperate to not replicate this time around), I was looking forward to revisiting the city by the bay (Pro Tip: don’t call San Francisco, Frisco).
The weatherman was predicting rain the whole weekend and being Vancouverites, we didn’t let that faze us. Armed with rain jackets, umbrellas and spare pairs of shoes, we were ready for a weekend getaway. It actually didn’t rain as much as we were prepared for. The rain came down at us sideways the Friday evening we arrived and for most of Sunday morning, but otherwise, it was dry if a little cloudy. Monday was absolutely stunning with clear blue skies and actual warmth which made leaving the city a tough choice.
With so much to see, we tried to be strategic about it, organizing activities in the same area together. However, we adjusted our schedule based on the weather. Whenever there was a break in the rain we headed outside!
The Mission District is San Francisco’s oldest neighbourhood and is home to the city’s oldest building, the Mission San Francisco de Asis. The neighbourhood has a huge population of immigrants from Central and South America which can be clearly seen among all the taquerias and other shops around. We spent our first morning in the city wandering around the Mission district checking out some of the murals in the area. We joined a street art walking tour and explored a few of the alleyways dedicated to street art.
A Food Lover’s Dream: The Ferry Building
The San Francisco Ferry Building is a transit hub, connecting all of the city’s neighbourhoods and surrounding areas. Situated at the end of Market St., along the Embarcadero, it has great views of the city and of the water. Inside the building is home to a number of independently owned food businesses. We visited the Ferry Building which had its well-known farmer’s market going on. The place was swarming with people and restaurants and food stalls had lines out the door and around the corner. Clearly, good food can be found here.
A Must: The Golden Gate Bridge
When in San Francisco, you make time to go see the Golden Gate Bridge. We experienced an interesting phenomenon. Much of the city was clear and sunny, but the bridge was shrouded under a cloud of thick fog. You could barely see the top of the bridge. Instead of walking or riding across the bridge, we opted to go under it on a boat cruise as a part of our San Francisco City Pass.
Tourist Central: Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39
The famous Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 is well known to visitors of San Francisco. We wandered around Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, enjoying the view, the tacky shops at the pier and checked out the resident sea creatures – the sea lions. Better watch out for the Fisherman’s Wharf bushman who managed to spook my friend and I really well. Stop off at the Musée Mécanique at Fisherman’s Wharf as well for a bit of quirky San Francisco.
Another must do in San Francisco is riding the cable cars. This cable car system is the only manually operated system remaining in the world. It’s incredible how they’re able to make their way up and down the very steep hills of the city. At one point, there were 23 lines around the city, but today only 3 remain. They’re a popular form of transportation and lines to get on them can be quite long and the cars themselves very packed.
Eating well is easy in San Francisco. There are so many restaurants in the city and with many food-related startups (like Yelp), calling the Bay Area home, if you’re not good, you’re going to be sticking around for very long. We hit up a lot of really popular places and surprisingly encountered no lines the whole weekend.
Before heading down, virtually everyone I talked to told me to go eat at Brenda’s Soul Food. Soul food isn’t something that we have much of in Vancouver so I was pretty eager to check it out. We ordered way too much food for the two of us, but everything was so delicious. Full review on this and everything else delicious we ate in San Francisco coming up soon.
One of the things I love the most about San Francisco are all of their interestingly coloured houses. Each one had their own unique colour scheme. Some neighborhoods were Victorian inspired. Others, more random. Regardless, it made exploring neighbourhoods a lot of fun.
3 days was not enough in San Francisco. There were so many things I had wanted to explore and I didn’t get a chance to do. Hopefully I’ll get another chance to pop down to the city and even perhaps make it out to Napa and Sonoma Valley.
Have you been to San Francisco? What were some of your favourite things to see and do?