San Francisco-area Travel Tips

May 17, 2018

Things NOT to bother doing in San Francisco:

- Drive down Lombard Street:
Luckily there was no line to actually drive down the hill, but the drive itself was pretty anti-climactic. We got out afterward and walked up the street as well, but you couldn't even really see the road in pictures. Overall, it was a very overrated experience, and some bald man walked in front of my Instax picture and I'm still mad about it. Bonus tip: Fay Park, just down the street, was so cute and worth the random stop if you're in the neighborhood.

- Visit the Wave Organ:
We went in the evening but the tide wasn't high enough so we didn't hear anything at all. We had to walk completely around the marina even though we could see the jetty from our car. Jamison enjoyed taking pictures of the boats and we liked choosing which house on Marina Bay we would live on, but unless you time it right, it's not really worth the trip.

- See the Painted Ladies at Alamo Square:
Yeah, they were pretty and fancy, but that's about it. The park was nice, but we visited another one (keep reading) that I enjoyed a lot more.

- Go to Half Moon Bay:
Half Moon Bay was pretty, but it didn't seem any different than any other beaches I've been to. We liked it and we stayed there a while, but we both agreed that we didn't mind going, but we wouldn't have been sad if we hadn't gone. We did find a lot of shells though, until SOMEBODY left them at the place we ate lunch (that somebody was me, y'all).

Things TO DO in San Francisco:

- Eat at Pier 23 Cafe:
Honestly, this was my favorite place that we ate the whole trip. I was pretty tempted to suggest that we go back again, but we opted for some fancier dinners that were good but just not as enjoyable to me. The environment and the view of the Cafe were exquisite, and I highly recommend their clam chowder and fish tacos. We also took the BART the first day to get to SF, but that night we realized it cost us more to use public transportation than to just take our car and pay for all-day parking. Check out the BART website ahead of time to see which is better for your budget.

- Hike to Point Bonita Lighthouse at sunset:
This was one of my favorite things that we did our entire trip. The lighthouse was closed and you have to walk through a rock to even see it, so I would recommend planning ahead and going when the tunnel is open. Despite this, it was SO DANG beautiful at sunset. It was straight off of an influencer's Instagram. We made another stop at a nearby turnoff and it was just as beautiful. I literally stood there crying because it all just felt so heavenly.

- Tour Alcatraz:
Expensive, but worth it. If I'm being honest, I didn't know too much about Alcatraz before we went there, but I learned a lot, it was very beautiful, and we had fun! Bonus tip: do the night tour - it's longer, more in depth, and beautiful (but bring a jacket (or two)).

- Visit Mission District:
Be sure to walk through Clarion Alley (fair warning, it smells like weed and urine, so it may not be the most kid-friendly place) and check out the murals. Make a stop to get Cuban sandwiches at Media Noche, AKA the restaurant aesthetic of my dreams. And most importantly: WALK TO MISSION DOLORES PARK. It was beautiful, there was a giant slide (and who doesn't love a good slide?), and even though I was in a mood, it was one of my favorite parts of our whole honeymoon.

- Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge:
It's windy and cold and scary and beautiful. I loved it and I hated it, but I think everyone should experience it. Hold on tight to your phones and do not forget a jacket.

- Go to Golden Gate State Park:
We were too cheap to actually pay to go into the Japanese Tea Garden (I think it's like $9), but the entire park is beautiful (and large). We actually got lost at one point because SOMEBODY thought they knew better than Siri (that somebody was me, y'all), but I have never felt so happy to be lost in my life. I remember telling Jamison, "If I lived in San Francisco, I would come here at least 3 times a week." Why such a precise number? Well, saying everyday felt a little dramatic and unrealistic (because I'm never either of those things). Just take my word for it: get lost in Golden Gate State Park. Bonus tip: parking is free.

- See the sea lions at Pier 39 (and eat at Mango's):
Pier 39 did not disappoint. We visited almost every day we were in the area, and I had to stop and see the sea lions each time. They were so fat and cute and there were baby ones with their mamas and they reminded me of my cat (which I pointed out an annoyingly amount of times to Jamison). We also ate at Mango's Taqueria & Cantina. We got an insane amount of food for a great price and we loved it. Bonus tip: Bubba Gump Shrimp Company has an amazing panoramic view of the bay, and the host at the front let us just walk around the restaurant to see it.

- Go on a boat tour:
We did the Escape From the Rock Cruise with the Blue & Gold Fleet and it was so beautiful! We actually happened upon free tickets, and even though we had already taken a ferry to Alcatraz, this cruise went farther (all the way under Golden Gate) and was longer. We lucked out and took it when the weather was perfect. There are a lot of different cruises available, but we loved this one.

- Explore Natural Bridges State Park:
I was a little skeptical after hearing my mother-in-law and husband rave about this place, but it was so worth it. The main beach was pretty crowded when we went, but we just kept exploring down the coast (with about a 20 minute span where I couldn't climb up some easy-to-climb rocks because I have no arm strength and I'm scared of the ocean a bit) until we found our own "private beach." There was nobody else nearby, and we just watched some surfers and enjoyed the sun. Bonus tip: State parking covers all day at any state park, so maybe hit a few in one day.

Yours truly,

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  1. I LOVE Golden Gate State Park as well! I could literally hang out there all day! Looks like such a fun trip!!