San Francisco City Highlights

posted in: California | 0

Another early morning

Santa Cruz Morning
Waking up under the Redwoods

Even though we hadn’t set a single alarm this trip, we had been waking up near the crack of dawn which had allowed up to pack in a ton to each day. This morning was no different, although we wish we had brought a way to make coffee.  After packing up we hit the road with our mind set on finding a diner. It was a short drive into Los Gatos, a small town just outside of San Jose, where we found breakfast before heading off for San Francisco.

Diner of Los Gatos
Diner of Los Gatos… Definitely got the proper American Diner experience!
Eggs Benny
Vegetarian Eggs Benny

We were surprised at how rural the highway was between San Jose and San Francisco. I think we both expected to see more sprawl like Los Angeles. Instead its a lot of rolling hills and water. Getting into San Francisco, the actual city itself is not that big despite having just under a million residents. By the time we got in it was still fairly early in the morning and we had until 4pm to check in, plenty of time to check out the highlights!

Highway 280 North San Jose towards San Francisco
Quiet morning with little traffic
Highway 280 north
A lot more scenic than we had thought it would be!
Crystal Springs Reservoir
Crystal Springs Reservoir
Golden Gate Bridge Sign in San Francisco
Might as well follow these signs…

Welcome to San Francisco

As we got into the city we started seeing the signs for the Golden Gate Bridge. Figuring it was as good a spot as any to start we followed the highway in. We probably couldn’t have planned a better route if we tried. Simply just following the signs took us through both Golden Gate, and Presidio Parks. Again not having any expectations for the city we were quite surprised by the amount of green space. We passed through a tunnel in Presidio Park and were treated by the Golden Gate Bridge.

Presidio Park Tunnel
Tunnel in Presidio Park just before the Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
Battery Marcus Miller
Quick Tip: If you can’t find parking at the Golden Gate Visitors Centre, head over to the batteries just to the South. Much larger and quiet parking areas a very short distance to the bridge.
San Francisco Side-by-side
Saw these guys near the bridge… they seem to be having way too much fun.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
View of The Golden Gate Bridge from the Visitors Center

Alcatraz Prison from the Golden Gate Vistors Centre

We decided to skip crossing the bridge today, as we knew we’d need to cross in the week anyways. We hopped back into our car and got onto the 101 pointing us right into the heart of San Francisco. Still with no plan put together, we figured we’d just roam around the city for a bit and see what we came across. We were pleasantly surprised to find out the the 101 turns into Lombard Street once you get out of Presidio Park.

Highway 101, heading downtown San Francisco
Highway 101, heading downtown San Francisco
Lombard Street San Francisco
I think we might be on Lombard Street…
 Lombard Street San Francisco 2
Yup, We’re on Lombard
Lombard Street San Francisco 3
Cresting the hill…
Lombard Street San Francisco 4
The famous hairpin turns as you make your way down the hill
Lombard Street San Francisco 5
View from the bottom

We were being very… Efficient…

Well that was two landmarks off our list, and from our vantage point on Lombard we could see we were only a few blocks away from Fishermans Warlf, so off we went. Our fairly loose plan had us doing most of these Highlights tomorrow, but we were just banging them out this morning, and within a couple minutes we were parked a short walk away from Pier 39.

Street car at Fishermans Market, San Francisco
Street car at Fishermans Market, San Francisco
Cable Trolley, at Fishermans Market, San Francisco
Fisherman’s Market, San Francisco
Kids Playing on the Seal Lion statue near Pier 39
Just can’t have any fun…

Pier 39 is a tourist hot spot filled with all the touristy things you’d expect, novelty shops, buskers, chain restaurants, and sea lions. The place was packed but we made our way through the grounds to catch a glimpse of San Francisco’s famous sea lion colony. Again another fairly quick stop, apart from the Sea Lions the pier itself a bit of a gimmicky tourist trap. One thing started to become apparent though. We planned on spending the better part of tomorrow exploring San Francisco but at this rate we’d be done by dinner time.

San Francisco Pier 39 Sea Lions
Sea Lions of Pier 39
There’s 2 levels to Pier 39, with the upper level giving you much better views. Also a lot less busy

Lefty's San Francisco
Dayna’s kind of shop
Pier 39 San Francisco
Now if you’re going to head to a touristy place like Pier 39, you might a well look like a tourist…
That might be too far

San Francisco in a day

We made our way back to the car and realized we still had a couple hours before we could check into our Airbnb and we’d hit most of the places we wanted to in San Francisco. We really want to try and get over to Alcatraz, but unfortunately tours for the island can sell out months in advance and where this was so last minute we’d have to leave that for next time we were here. Dayna was keen to find the painted ladies, and I wanted to take a spin through China Town. We figured if we could cross those two off our list we could spend tomorrow outside of San Francisco and not feel like we missed anything here.

Full House painted ladies
The painted ladies from the opening credits of Full House
Painted ladies
I kinda of felt bad for whoever lives in these houses. Its a beautiful day out, but they constantly have to keep their windows drawn.

San Francisco side streets
Coming into Chinatown, sooo many signs
China Town San Francisco
We missed the main gate as we entered China Town through one of the side streets. The neighbourhood itself is very visually stimulating


Literally Satan

Calling it day a bit earlier

We were pretty impressed with how much we were able to see today, and with how many long days we already had this trip, we decided to call it quits and head to go check into our Airbnb. This time we would be staying just outside San Francisco in Brisbane California.

Dayna found someone renting out a separate downstairs apartment and although it might not of been as unique or quirky as the last couple places we stayed, it was 2-3 time larger than most hotel rooms for a lot less. We checked in, found a bottle of wine our host had left us, grabbed some chinese food and had an early night.

Some of the plants the had had along the road in Brisbane

Back yard of our Airbnb.


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