If you missed our post last week, I shared a few travel tips for San Francisco. We covered where to stay, how to get around and a few recommended restaurants to check out. Well today, we are delving into how Josh and I spent our days! I hope you’ll be able to gather some ideas for your own trip and perhaps learn from our mistakes. Leave us a note in the comment section if there’s anything else you’d like to know!
How we spent our 3 Days:
Day 1: Browsing the Mission District
We arrived at 1pm, grabbed the metro from the airport, and disembarked at the Embarcadaro stop. After cleaning ourselves up, we were out the door and in an uber on the way to the Mission district. We went for a little walk around the district, popping into a few stores, then met some people Josh knew for a drink at ABV. After some snacks we went to Locanda for supper. We were pretty exhausted after the long flight, so we headed back to our hotel and straight to bed!
Day 2: Alcatraz and Biking the San Francisco Bridge
Our trip was planned only 3 days before leaving, and tickets to see Alcatraz were sold out. But I had read about a trick where if you go early enough, they have some day of tickets for sale. Josh and I left the hotel and walked to Pier 33, which is where the boat departs for alcatraz. We got there between 7:30-8am and were lucky to get tickets to the 10am crossing. The ticket salesperson told us some people had been waiting in line since 4am. With a couple of hours to spare, we went to grab a bite to eat, then headed back for the tour.
The boat ride is roughly 30 minutes. After a brief introduction to the island, you are left to wander around on your own. There is a self-guided tour located in the main cell house, with audio recording from former guards and prisoners of Alcatraz. Everyone is given headphones and a playback device that can be paused or rewound at any point. I really enjoyed the tour, even if it does run a bit long. We ended up leaving before the whole tour was over, as we had been there two hours and felt we got enough information.
After catching the boat back, we needed a little break from walking/standing so we caught a ride on a pedicab. This helped me relax a little about our next adventure, which would be biking the San Francisco bridge! Grabbing a few things from the hotel, we headed to a bike rental store. We selected Basically Free Bike Rentals for our bicycles, and I am so glad we did. This company is amazing! The concept is the money you spend on your rentals you get back in store credit at their sister store, Sports Basement. There is everything you could think of in this sports store, from swimming apparel to camping gear. I snagged a sweet camping cook set.
This was our best day of our trip, biking the bridge was so much fun and not as scary as I thought. I am not a good biker and I didn’t fall or get hit by a car once. Yay me! A lot of the trail is not on roads, even across the bridge is separated from traffic, though you do need to be careful of pedestrians and other bikers. We biked down into Sausalito and having read about a restaurant called FISH, we set off to find it. It was past downtown and I was ready to give up, but Josh was determined to find it. We stopped a few locals and eventually found our way. So glad we did, as this was my favourite meal of our trip.
On leaving FISH, josh’s bike got a flat tire. A local noticed our dilemma and came out to offer us advice. He even offered to repair the tire, but he wasn’t done eating and birds were getting at his food, so we decided to check out his recommended bike shop. On our way to the bike shop, another local biker stopped to see if we needed a hand and recommended the same shop. People here are so nice. The bike shop however, overcharged us for a new tire, charging $25US for changing the tire tube. The locals thought it would be $5, one even said they’d probably do it for free, so I guess they sensed we were tourists and felt like ripping us off.
To get back to San Francisco, we caught the ferry from Sausolito as they let you take the bikes on the boat. We had only got the bike for a day and the store closed at 8pm, but we got their at 8:05pm and they were luckily still in the shop. They also reimbursed us for the tire tube! Best company to rent from bar none.
After a day full of activity, we crashed when we got back to the hotel. We even showered and got dressed to go for drinks, but were like, nope.
Day 3: Shopping at Union Square, and Pier 39
We woke up on day three and headed to the Hollywood Cafe for breakfast. After breakfast we went to Union Square so Josh could admire some fancy watches. I got to go shopping at Anthropologie, so I wasn’t complaining! We met up with some of my family in the afternoon and headed to Pier 39. Josh and I had biked past it the previous day, and it was much less crowded on Friday than on a Saturday! This is honestly somewhere I’d skip had I known it was basically just tourist shops. I did get some really good caramel corn and there’s some sea lions and seals that are cute to see, but other than that, it’s overly crowded and not very unique.
We left the pier and headed for supper at Pacific Cafe. We waited in the line, drinking our free wine for about 40 minutes before being seated. During the wait we befriended a retired lawyer. As he was dining on his own, my aunt invited him to join us. The man loved this place so much, he was determined we should try everything. He bought all of his favourite appetizers and desserts for us to share. We were certainly treated to a great meal! He even paid the waitress a $100 tip so we wouldn’t be rushed. Needless to say, we got out of there quite late, so we decided to stay in the hotel for the rest of the night.
Day 4: Brunch in Mission district and Pride Parade
Since this was our last day, and with a flight to catch later on, we decided to keep things easy. Leaving our bags at the hotel we went to the mission district for our last meal in San Francisco. We chose the Vietnamese restaurant, Out The Door. The food was fantastic – a great last meal before leaving the city. Afterwards we browsed around the shops, though many weren’t open on Sunday. We stopped into Atelier Cologne and got ourselves some very nice scents that came in personalized leather sleeves. To commemorate our trip we had “San Francisco” stenciled on the leather.
Our flight time was drawing closer, so we grabbed our bags, and went off to catch the train at the embardecaro station. It was pride week in San Francisco and we were fortunate to catch some of the pride parade before we left. The atmosphere was absolutely contagious, and I found myself dancing on the sidewalk. Josh had to tear me away to catch our train, but I so wish I could have seen more!
It was a fantastic trip, and there is so much more to do than what we accomplished in our short time there. I won’t recount what I did on my first trip to the city as my memory is somewhat fuzzy. But, it did involve visiting the oldest bar in the city, walking Lombard street, stumbling upon a FREE outdoors concert and much more! If you’d like to hear more, let me know in the comments below!