Without a single doubt, San Francisco won my heart right on first sight. Three days and two nights were just appetizers to this mega-beauty because California’s City by the Bay is not just to see and visit, but also to experience what with its diversified culture and historic past. Whether it’s a tourist spot or a local joint, the city is teeming with iconic destinations that have graced timeless photos and films over and over again. I consider myself lucky enough to have seen these must-see places in San Francisco with my own eyes. And if you ask me which city in California I’d love to return to one day, in a heartbeat I would say, “San Francisco, we go!”
Who hasn’t seen or heard of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco? The locale is one of the busiest and most popular attractions in the city. Besides the seafood restaurants, it is also home to different attractions, such as the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum, the Musée Mécanique, the Wax Museum, and more. The ominous Alcatraz is also within viewing distance from Fisherman’s Wharf.
The Wharf is known for its history of Italian fishermen immigrants who settled in the area. To them, I was incredibly grateful because seafood restaurants serving fresh-boiled crabs and fresh-blanched oysters were aplenty at reasonable prices. Yes, you heard me right. I thought the menu was pretty affordable considering the taste value. Yum! Just eat while standing outdoor and don’t enter the restaurants because they’ll daylight-rob you there for sure!
I had my fill of two $26 crabs (eaten in different days, don’t worry) and oysters without a care of how ravenous I looked as I wolfed them down with bare hands. Kyle couldn’t enjoy them because he swore off seafood since birth, but no one was putting a damp on my scrumptious crustaceans!
One of the first places that drew us in was the Musée Mécanique located on Pier 45 in the Fisherman’s Wharf. Imagine entering into a time machine and getting taken back to the age of old carnivals with coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines. The more than 200 machines are functioning like normal; just insert a quarter and you’ll see the dolls dance or sing to the background music.
We didn’t even know such a toy museum existed, but I was glad we checked it out! I love anything classic and even though some dolls or mannequins were freaky, they reminded me of old movies and how simple entertainment was before the advent of computers.
Ahh.. What else can I say about the Golden Gate Bridge that hasn’t been said before? The majestic mile-wide and three-mile-long suspension bridge is considered as the most photographed bridge in the world, according to Frommers. When it opened in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge became one of the Wonders of the Modern World because the engineers had to face issues like strong ocean currents, heavy winds, and fog in Golden Gate Strait. But they did it and now it’s a symbol of man’s engineering success!
I adored the San Francisco cable cars ever since I watched Anne Hathaway hopping onto a car in the movie The Princess Diaries. Albeit the fare was expensive at $5/adult/way, we waited along with other tourists at the turnaround (or terminal). There are two lines that go different routes: Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde, but both end near Fisherman’s Wharf.
San Francisco Financial District
We got off at the Financial District, which was swarming with business executives, tourists, and shoppers. By then, Kyle and I were hungry for some food so we decided to stop at a hole-in-the-wall pizza place and enjoyed a couple of Hawaiian pizza slices. I don’t know if it was just the lovely spring weather and the clear blue sky background, but it was a purr-fect day in San Francisco. The Financial District was teeming with foot traffic and impatient vehicles that could give one a headache, but there was so much life and color in that little district I wish we could have spent more time there.
Now this is the CRAZIEST street I’ve ever seen in my entire life! San Francisco is known for its rolling hills, but Lombard Street has a twist! It consists of EIGHT tight hairpin turns that made me feel like we were on a roller coaster instead of Allan’s rental car as we drove from the top of the steep hill downward. It was an amazing experience as I tried to snap pictures every turn we make. There were also residential houses right along Lombard Street, and I don’t know if they like living in such a famous street when they have to bear with all the tourists every day!
I wish our picture was taken when the sun wasn’t facing the camera. Look at the cars swirling around the street, which kinda reminds me of sundae for reasons I can’t explain! I love this street I think we drove from top to bottom three times!
We almost didn’t visit Alcatraz because we were already supposed to check out of the hotel by 11. Fortunately, we were able to arrange it with the hotel so to Alcatraz we went on our last day in San Francisco! Saved the best for last, I must say!
We booked the tickets on the same day we arrived in the city and they were almost fully booked! Only the first schedule at 9 am was available, which was good because we wanted it to be as early as possible for us. Daytime tickets were expensive at $30/adult, but let me tell you, it is WORTH it! Don’t skip this part of your San Francisco tour! They also offer night tours at $37, which should be excitingly creepy but we were happy enough just to get in.
Along with the other tourists, we boarded the cruise ship to the infamous Alcatraz Island, which became the home of the most notorious criminals in the U.S., such as Al “Scarface” Capone. The tour provided us with the Cellhouse Audio Tour via headsets, so we were able to take our time around the building as we listened to the voices of correctional officers and inmates who had firsthand experience of the prison. We learned about the life on the island, the escape attempts, riots, and other horrors that happened in there.
It was a chilling walk-around, especially when the audio tour asked us to try entering the dark solitary confinement; I couldn’t stand it for longer than 30 seconds! The cell was used as a form of punishment to misbehaving inmates and they would be locked in there for days enveloped in pitch-black darkness and deafening silence.
I feel like this blog entry has gone really long because it just takes a LOT to describe San Francisco! I also wrote it while watching the playoffs between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers, and the 49ers just won! Maybe I gave them good luck. 🙂
There were a lot of things people could complain about San Francisco: congested streets, outrageous parking fees, tight spaces (everywhere!), and everything is expensive! But San Francisco is not a city you can easily compare to other California cities. It’s one of a kind in terms of personality and aesthetics, and many old buildings are given back their old glory through restoration. When it comes to charm, San Francisco won’t disappoint and will be more than what you expect! I’m now counting the days when we’ll back to where I left my heart in. 🙂