Sometimes things just work out REALLY well. And sometimes you find yourself in San Francisco for three days with the sun shining and a sightseeing list as long as your arm. I had never really thought about San Francisco for a holiday before – it is pretty far away from the UK – and if I’m honest, I don’t usually turn to the USA for holiday inspo. I’ve spent a bit of time in New York, but this was my first trip to the West Coast since I was a wee nipper so I thought I’d share what I got up to in the big city in case you ever find yourself over that way.
Alcatraz is mainly known as a maximum security prison, and it’s one of San Francisco’s major tourist attractions. It gets booked up really far in advance, so if you want to go, don’t just turn up on the day. I booked with Alcatraz Cruises and it cost $35 (about £28) for the first tour of the day.
The boat departs from Pier 33 and it’s a short ferry ride across to the island. Once there, you should listen to the 15 minute introduction from a volunteer guide (yes it is worth it) and watch the short film (also worth it). This gives you a good introduction to everything Alcatraz has been used for over the years.
The audio tour around the cell block is really interesting, and the views back to San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge fantastic. There isn’t much of an atmosphere though, just because the crowds are so big. If I could go again, I’d go at dusk – the last cruise of the day. I can just imagine how eerie it is in the dark.
I headed to Pier 39 in search of some lunch and, to be honest, most of it was overpriced tourist fare. But I did get my hands on a red clam chowder served in a sourdough bowl and it was DELICIOUS. I can’t have the normal clam chowder because it’s made with gallons of milk but the red version, made with tomato, is yummy and I would highly recommend it.
You will probably have seen a picture of this crazy little street at some point before – it’s basically a really steep zig zag road that winds its way down one of San Francisco’s sharpest gradients. FYI – San Fran is REALLY hilly, so be prepared to work out (or spend a lot of money on trams).
Golden Gate Bridge
You can’t come to San Francisco without viewing this beauty, can you? To be honest, it is just a long red bridge. But from the middle of it, you do get a lovely view of the city and if you make it across to the other side, there is a gorgeous looking seaside town called Sausalito waiting for you. Very much regretting I didn’t go there!
The Ferry Building and Farmer’s Market
The Ferry Building is beautiful, situated right on The Embarcadero on the seafront. It’s a gorgeous building in of itself, but inside there are a range of high-end restaurants (try The Slanted Door, but book well in advance!), gluten free cheesecakes, brunch spots, shops and more. Also, every weekend there is a farmer’s market with stalls full to the brim of fresh produce. I would definitely recommend a trip there.
The Castro was my favourite part of San Francisco – it’s the gay suburb and it just feels so safe, so welcoming, so happy and so fun. I walked around there and grabbed some lunch in a cafe. Beautiful vibe and you can’t help but smile at the rainbow road crossings everywhere!
Clarion Alley is a short back street that is dedicated to graffiti street art. It’s in the Mission District, which is known for delicious burritos. The graffiti changes regularly but apparently you don’t often see the artists recreating the walls. The murals are huge, bright and often carry a political message. I loved this street and it would be perfect for a fashion shoot if I had had someone else there with me!
I couldn’t come to San Francisco without enjoying some delicious vegan ice cream, so I treated myself to an ice cream sandwich from C.R.E.A.M. or Cookies Rule Everything Around Me. I ate it all, I have no regrets, it was delicious. Don’t miss it!
So that’s what I got up to over a long weekend in the beautiful San Francisco. Have you been? Is there anything I missed and have to go back and see?
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