Leah’s Guide to San Francisco

Planning a trip to San Francisco and wondering what to add to your itinerary? I went not too long ago and I’m sharing my guide of what’s not to be missed!

San Francisco is obviously most known for the Golden Gate Bridge. There are several places where you can get incredible views and photos of one of the most famous suspension bridges in the world!

Baker Beach This public beach is nestled a mile below cliffs and the scenery is breathtaking! It was super windy when we went so photos of us were challenging but the photos of the bridge were spectacular! You can walk up and down the shore and let the ocean breeze take you away! This is a great spot on a foggy day as you can walk super close to the bridge. Parking was free. 

Fort Point  This was my personal favorite spot for pics! Unobstructed views, hike and bike trails, historical markers that take you along the construction and development of GG, and plenty of free parking! You can take a guided tour or explore on your own (which is what I did) and get views of all sides and the perfect Instagram photo! 

Battery Spencer: For this overlook, you’ll actually need to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge (which I 100000% suggest you do! It’s one of the most nostalgic drives I’ve ever done. Cue the Full House theme song!) and it’s off of Conzelman Road. This does require a bit of a hike and sits 500 ft above the bay so the views are incredible.

San Francisco Sailing Co Boat Tour This is a great way to see the Golden Gate Bridge from the water! There are three sails to choose from: Sunset, 90 Minute, Golden Gate where you actually go under the bridge! We did the 90 Minute that takes you around Alcatraz too! All sails include 2 drinks and have several departure times. We went during an off-peak time and were able to negotiate the fee. 

Another great spot for an idyllic San Fran photo is on top of the steep streets of the Russian Hill neighborhood on the corner of Chestnut and Hyde. Steep is an understatement as these streets are almost completely vertical. Be warned that if you walk it is quite the workout but so worth it! You almost get an overhead view of Alcatraz and Hyde Street Pier.

Russian Hill is also home to the “Crookedest Street in the World”  Lombard Street and the most famous street in San Francisco. We opted to walk as the line for cars is usually pretty long. The street is much shorter than I thought, with 8 sharp curves around beautifully landscaped yards. The best photo op is from the bottom, looking up the hill. 

We all loved the 90’s sitcom “Full House” and the iconic house the Tanner’s lived in. “Postcard Row” is home to  The Painted Ladies on Steiner Street between Grove St. and Hayes St. Across the street you’ll find Alamo Square, a lush park perfect for a picnic or taking a break and taking in the views of the city. 

Pier 39 is a popular tourist spot and is where most of the Alcatraz excursions depart and is also home to the Aquarium of the Bay, San Fran’s home to 20,000 sea creatures! Discover marine life native to the bay and surrounding waters including jellies, an octopus, sea otters, and even animal encounters! Pier 39 also has other attractions including thrilling rides, bike rentals, street performers, and even wine tastings! There’s definitely something for everyone! 

Golden Gate Park is def worth a stroll through! The Japanese Tea Gardens and the SkyStar, a 150-foot Ferris wheel with downtown views, are located here as are several other attractions and exhibits.

Chinatown is absolutely worth a walkthrough! We stayed in the Financial District so we were super close and were able to walk. I had the best Sweet and Sour Chicken and Dumplings of my life here. Sadly I apparently was hangry and took ZERO photos of my food and only one pic in an Instagram filter of the area. I’ll do better next time!

We strolled through Ghirardelli Square but due to covid most of the restaurants weren’t open and it was pretty much a ghost town so we didn’t do much. From what I’ve been told the line is usually at least an hour or two long so do research and plan ahead!

Hearts of San Francisco debuted in 2004 and features 131 heart-shaped sculptures created by local artists. Each year the hearts go up for auction and new hearts are placed around the city. I only came across a few but I encourage you to see how many you can find! You can find the 2022 map here.   

Alcatraz was still closed to the public during my trip so sadly, although this was certainly on my must-do list, we weren’t able to go. 

If you have time I also highly recommend a trip up to Sonoma County to visit some wineries. You can read all about my trip here!

**Full disclosure, I went to San Francisco in October of 2020. All opinions are my own. 

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