It has always been a dream for me to go to California. But I never thought I would have the opportunity to go so early in my life! I thought about Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Malibu but I didn’t really think about San Francisco. Crazy right, when you know so many people dream to go there and everyone who’s traveled to California said SF was the best?! Anyway, I went there thanks to a work opportunity at the end of January and since I came back, the only thing I want is to go back there! If you’re into nice views, ocean, sun, chilled life, go to San Francisco! Some say a few days are enough to visit the city but I believe I could live there and still have so many things to discover. In case you have a few days to spend there, here is my 5 days guide!
Rest in every nice park
If you like wandering when you travel and walk without any itinerary, then you will love San Francisco –even if the streets are not particularly easy to walk! There are nice spots at every corner and if you manage your exploration well, you will end up in parks to rest when you need a break. Mission Dolores Park is the perfect spot for a nice view of the city. It’s crowded with dogs early in the morning and it’s a good place to rest before going back to wanders. If you don’t mind hiking – only if you get lost like I did – then you will enjoy the way to Twin Peaks. It gets really windy up there but the view is really worth the walk. For a quick and touristic stop, Alamo Square offers is the good place before going back on the streets. If you have time, also go to the Presidio where you will have a chance to see the Palace of Fine Arts which is a stunning building and perfect in the morning light. The Presidio is huge, I suggest rent a bike to make it easier – if you don’t get lost like I did! The Golden Gate Park is also the park you want to see, also with a bike as it is massive! Stop at the Conservatory of Flowers and the Japanese Tea Garden on the road.
Breathe on the beaches
Coming from London, it was really nice to be surrounded by the ocean and to have so many opportunities to spend some time on the beach. Crissy Field is a small beach with a great view on the Golden Gate Bridge. You can try to swim but the water is freezing cold! I suggest going there for the sunset; the light is amazing at this time of the day. Baker Beach and China Beach are also nice spots if you want the view on the bridge. I believe if you have to choose one go to Baker Beach as it is closer and bigger and China Beach is not so clean. Queen of the queens, Ocean Beach is the dream place if you like the ocean. The beach is massive and I am sure the sunset from there is stunning.
Wander across the city
Honestly, if you are active and are not afraid of sweatexploring, rent a bike. This is the best way to discover the city as you can get lost on the way and enjoy some unexpected places. Castro District is a nice area, full of colours and independent shops. Haight Street is a great place if you want thrift stores, mystic shops and this hippie atmosphere. Mission District is another hippie place with atypical shops and amazing street art. Clarion Alley is the place to go if you want to see independent egalitarian street art. Union Square is less typical as this is the kind of area you find in every big city but there is still this great atmosphere typical from San Francisco. Head to Chinatown if you want to feel like you’re in China for a while. It’s massive and there are many nice spots hidden in the area. In the north of the city, Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 are great spots for an evening walk and to enjoy the fair atmosphere when the sun goes down.
Cycle outside the city
If you feel like being active during your stay in San Francisco, rent a bike and explore the bay area. One of the most recommended itineraries is to cycle from the city to the bridge and from there, cross the bridge to discover Sausalito. It’s quite tough to bike up there but go to Vista Point. If you’ve come that far, you don’t want to miss this spot! Then, go to Sausalito, a cute seaside town with nice restaurants and cafes. Enjoy the view on the bridge and on San Francisco and go back to the city with the ferry to reward you after the long ride!
Eat great vegetarian food
London is a great place if you are vegetarian or vegan so I can’t complain but the food was amazing in San Francisco! Ananda Fuara serves delicious vegan and vegetarian food from breakfast to dinner, the place is really bright and sunny and the staff very friendly. Judhalicious is a small vegan café close to Ocean Beach and the food there is literally amazing. I had the best vegan sandwich ever! One day, I was craving a burger and I thought I should have one as I was in the US so I went to Super Duper Burgers and their vegetarian burger is really nice. As I am also a food experimenter, I tried the Impossible Burger at Umami. It was ok but I would not have it soon again. It was too close to a real burger for me. If you fancy more fresh options, Big Fish Little Fish serves very good poke bowls and Mixt as a make-your-own-salad buffet with organic and fresh ingredients.
I hope you will love San Francisco if you’ve never been there and that you will love it more if you go back!
Sweet wanders ◊