One of the reasons San Francisco has been on my mind is because of this crazy freezing weather we have been having across the country. Even San Francisco, where it generally stays around 55 degrees this time of year, is freezing cold. It is this climate that had me thinking over the summer. I actually toyed with the idea of moving to San Francisco. Many things enticed me to explore this idea, but mostly it was the mild temperatures, vibrant culture, young and active city dwellers, and of course the amazing food. A city that might just have everything a city girl could want and more. Although I put the idea of relocating on hold, you never know what the future brings.
My first trip to San francisco was more than 10 years ago, I began spending a significant amount of time in San Francisco in 2006-2007 when I worked for SoBe, the juice company. I developed a huge list of favorite eating spots, activities and things to do, but I had all but forgotten them until I was recently drawn back to this incredible city by friends who live there. This time I was able to explore it’s smaller sections.
There are many touristy things to do here, of course, and many activities for long-term visitors too, but what is it like to live here? I asked a few locals to show me around and I found many surprises. The locals have a pride like no other. I learned that while my home city of Portland Oregon stretches across over 145 square miles and has a little over 600, 000 residents, San Francisco crams over 825,000 people into 46.9 sqaure miles making it the most densely settled large city (population greater than 200,000) in the state of California and the second-most densely populated major city in the United States after New York. Woh! Now that’s a lot of people. It’s also what makes this city so unique for its guests and residents.
San Francisco was the sixth most visited tourist destination in the United States in 2011. The city is renowned for its foggy and cool summers, steep hillsides, eclectic mix of architecture, and landmarks including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, the former prison on Alcatraz Island, and its Chinatown district. All of which I would recommend visiting.
Some spots not mentioned, but on my list of the best to see while you’re here are the Palace of Fine Art and Exploratorium, Coit Tower, Golden Gate Park (all of it including the Zoo, botanical gardens, Conservatory of Flowers, the Japanese Tea Garden, and Lake Merced), Lombard St. (see video below), the Twin Peaks, Little Italy, Washington Square, and Fisherman’s Wharf. Want to get out of the city for a bit take a ferry or explore Muir Woods National Monument.
I’m not going to kid you here folks this city is loaded with fun, but getting around on foot is no easy task. The 49 steep hills make walking around the city a true workout. Renting a bike is only for the faint of heart, and taking taxis can really add up. For a couple of hours of touristy adventures I recommend the GoCar (about $100 for 2 hours). You rent a small yellow buggy with GPS and take your own personalized tour all over the city. Stop anywhere you want and take your time in the places you like most. Add a couple extra hours for under $30 bucks each and you can really make it a fun day of exploring all the sites I mentioned so far and more.
My TOP 5 favorite of the aforementioned destinations are as follows:
5 • Fisherman’s Wharf
4 • Coit Tower
3 • Exploratorium & Palace of Fine Art
2 • Trolley/Cable Car Ride
1 • Golden Gate Park & Bridge
If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’re waiting to get to the food recommendations, and boy are there a ton I could share with you. So stay tuned for my next San Francisco blog: San Francisco: More Than A Few Great Food Adventures