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Monday, June 9, 2014

A San Francisco Travel Guide

We're back from our trip to San Francisco! Instead of a recap, I thought I'd do a San Francisco travel guide. There were lots of things we loved and lots of things we could've done without. I hope this can help out some future San Francisco travelers!

THE CITY PASS:
We bought the city pass and regretted it. The pass gets you into four attractions and allows you to use most public transportation. 

Pros: 
Will save money if you enjoy all of the attractions. We visited the aquarium, exploratorium, california acadamy of science, and rode a ferry boat using the pass. 
Free cable car rides and bus rides. 

Cons: 
Does not include BART transportation. 
Be willing to wait for buses and cable cars. They are especially crowded on the weekend. We waited over 40 minutes and ended up having to walk because the buses were continually packed full. 
Buses and cable cars went on strike the week we went, yikes.


THINGS TO DO:
Fisherman's Wharf:
Browse the street shops, grab a bowl of chowder, walk along pier 39, take a ferry boat tour, visit the aquarium of the bay...there is lots to do here! 

Aquarium of the Bay:
A typical aquarium. I would skip this and go to the California Academy of Sciences instead, which also has an aquarium. 

Coit Tower:
A high point with fantastic views of the bay bridge and the city. We walked there and the hike wasn't bad at all. Just one steep, but short, hill and a couple flights of stairs. You can drive straight up too. At the tower, either pay to go up to the top or enjoy the sights from the courtyard area. 

Exploratorium:
Hands on exhibits ranging from science, to circuits, to optical illusions, and a rooftop landscape. This isn't my kind of thing, but others in my family loved it and didn't want to leave. 

California Academy of Science:
Highlights included an indoor rain forest, earthquake simulator, scuba divers, and a skull exhibit. Again, not my kind of thing, but others absolutely enjoyed it. 

Twin Peaks Outlook: 
My favorite spot! Either a short hike up {25 minutes or so} or simply drive. The views of the city are expansive and amazing. Make the trek on a clear day because fog can completely mask the view. Oh, and it is windy up there! Like gasping for air windy. 

Cable Car Museum:
It's more of a large room than a full-blown museum, but you'll get a firsthand look at the huge contraptions that run the system. Admission is free. 

Cable cars: 
There's something so iconic about cable cars and San Francisco. With the wind in your hair and stunning views from the tip tops of rolling streets, this is a fun little ride. These cable cars are popular with tourists so be prepared for a wait. We waited a half hour. 

Ghiradelli Square:
Home of three ghiradelli stores. Stop by for an enormous ice cream sundae and a free chocolate sample. We loved browsing all the chocolates. Who knew there were so many flavors? Intense dark sea salt soiree, anyone?

Ferry Building:
A pretty building filled with quaint eateries and views of the bay. Don't miss the farmer's market which is held a couple times a week. I'm still dreaming of those peaches. 

Union Square:
Experience busy city life and shop till you drop!

Chinatown: 
Its the largest one in the west! Thanks to mom's awesome research, we found a fortune cookie factory hidden in an alleyway. Blink and you'd walk right by it. There is also tons of shops filled with all sorts of knick knacks as well as fresh, and very affordable, produce stands scattered throughout. While this isn't the prettiest part of town, it's filled with culture and you definitely get the most bang for your buck, food wise.

Japantown:
In the mood for Japanese food? This is the place to go. We also enjoyed the store called "Daiso." Everything is $1.50, from specialty snacks to little journals to washi tape. 

Oakland A's Baseball:
For all the baseball fans, escape from the city to enjoy a relaxing evening rooting on the As. BART provides easy transportation from the city to Oakland. 

RESTAURANTS:
Bubba Gumps - Walk to the very end of Pier 39 for scrumptious seafood, nautical ambiance, and friendly waiters. Teeters on the expensive side.

El Farolito - The carne asada super burrito was marvelous. The neighborhood freaked me out a bit, but it was worth it!

Delicious Dim Sum - A tiny, little shop located in the heart of Chinatown. We ordered 21 items for only $12.80! 

A few more snapshots from the week:

P.S. The blog has a new look! I loved the old design, but finally got the spark to change things up. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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