Pros:Something new to see each time!
Cons:Expensive parking, crazy streets to drive on, annoying traffic.
The Bottom Line: Anytime is a great time to visit San Francisco.
San Francisco is just a short 90 minute drive from where I live. It's a fantastic spot to get away for the day or spend a weekend. It is a frequent suggestion when my teenage daughters are asked what they would like to do.
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Having been to San Francisco more times than I can count I'm still finding new things to do whenever we go. This review will cover a few of my favorites.
Getting to the city is always an adventure. I'm not quite comfortable driving in that traffic, the hills, or finding my way around. On a recent trip with my daughter we decided to take the ferry in from Vallejo. What a great way to travel into the city. Getting the the ferry was a quick drive off I-80 in Valllejo and took about 60 minutes. It's not faster, but saves the headache of parking and traffic. The cost of the ferry is $13.
The ride in on the ferry is wonderful. We passed this wonderful hotel on a tiny island called the East Brother Light Station. It's a tiny lighthouse turned into a hotel. You must take a boat to get to it. It's such a nice scenic highlight on this trip. I would love to stay there some time.
Once you arrive in San Francisco you may get off at either the Ferry Market Building or Pier 39. I love, love, love the Ferry Building so we chose to get off there. First stop-Blue Bottle Coffee for a New Orleans Iced Coffee. A delicious, sweet coffee drink with chicory. It's the perfect start to a day in the city. The coffee here is drip brewed right when you order it so patience is a must. For those of you in New York they have opened a few shops there.
The Ferry Market Building has many shops ranging from fresh produce, cheese, meats, and pastries. It's a delightful place to spend an hour or two. Check their website out for information on when the farmers market is there.
From the Ferry Market Building you can take a walk (or a pedicab) to Pier 39. This is not my favorite area but the kids like it. Shopping, Ripleys Believe it or Not Museum, the Wax Museum, street performers, restaurants, and tons of people watching. You can also head over to Fisherman's Wharf from here.
On another recent visit we ventured out to what has become one of my new favorite sights in San Francisco. I would say this is a must for any visitor as it is amazing to drive through the city and at the end you discover this gem called Lands End. I was simply unprepared for how breathtaking it was.
As difficult as it is to stop at the visitors center definitely make that your first stop. Then head out to look at the gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean. This place is stunning. There are miles of hiking trails, a beach with wind surfers just around the bend, and the Sutro Bath Ruins. As if all of this wasn't enough there are gorgeous views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Sutro Bath Ruins were quite a surprise for me as I had never heard of these. They were a huge privately owned swimming pool complex built in the late 1800's. There were 7 swimming pools one of which was a fresh water pool. The other 6 were filled by the ocean. It also had an ice skating rink and a concert hall. Now they are just ruins but it is fascinating to walk down and see the ruins. It's so hard to believe this existed right in the cliffs.
Also at Lands End is the Cliff House Restaurant and another more casual restaurant whose name escapes me at the time. I am looking forward to venturing back here to dine and explore more of this area with my husband.
Open 7 days a week over on Harrison Street is a little ice cream place I saw on the Food Network. This may not be the place for kids, but for the grown ups it's a must. Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream delivers the most unusual flavors you've ever heard of. It's such a fun adventure and another place I'm looking forward to visiting again.
When we visited Humphry Slocombe we tried the following flavors: (don't be scared, these guys know what they are doing) Honey Thyme, Peanut Butter Curry (and I HATE curry-but this was genius), and Jesus Juice (Red wine and coca cola). The flavors change on a regular basis so what they have when you visit may be different. You have to go because it's too unusual to not see!
If you've spent the weekend in San Francisco and would like to see something a little out of the city I recommend the Marin Headlands. This was a fantastic find that provided us with hours of family fun. There are forts to visit, trails to hike, a great view of Point Bonita lighthouse, beaches, and more views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
I could go on and on all day about the many great things to see in San Francisco and the surrounding area. I think I've given you plenty of ideas today. :)
Enjoy your visit in the City by the Bay!
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Best Suited For: Families
Best Time to Travel Here: Jun - Aug