San Francisco in Two Days..
April 17, 2019
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San Francisco in two days.. can it be done? Oh you bet it can,, and it was!
The final leg of our trip landed us here, a big bucket list check mark. As we arrived on Friday (only an hour from Napa), the marine layer was still pretty heavy over the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, but it just made it look even cooler! You see that bridge in the media thousands of times throughout your life, but seeing it in person was something cool.
We did a lot of “touristy” stuff while we were here, but wanted to be sure to see all the cool stuff, just in case it’s a while until we get back again.
Now I have to say right off the bat, and only because this was one of the major bummers of this trip. BOOK ALCATRAZ BEFORE YOU ARRIVE! Yeah, I wish someone had told me that, and I am seriously shocked that on all the travel sites I visited while planning not one person said this. But you must make reservations to get on the ferry that takes you there and they sell them out days in advance. So guess what, we didn’t get to see Alcatraz while we were there, and I’m still pretty ticked off about it. So let me help you out here and visit The National Park Service-Alcatraz link. It will tell you all about the island and there is a link there that will direct you on making your reservations. You’ll be happy you did. (not like me… still ticked off).
The second, Are you kidding me! moments of the trip, again not mentioned by anyone; make a reservation if you want to see Muir Woods. These do not need to be made that far out and really can be done in the morning of the day you want to go and this is if you want to drive there and park. There is very limited parking so you have to have a pass to do it or you are nicely given a slip of paper that says, call ahead next time, see ya! There are bus trips that will take you there if you want and then you wont need the reservation. Here’s the link to check it out Muir Woods.
We stayed at the wonderful Courtyard San Francisco Downtown. This was a great place to stay and was super convenient to get to everything. We walked a few short blocks and were able to get to China Town, Fishermen’s Wharf, etc. And being a few blocks out saves a little bit of money, always good!
On Friday after checking in, we headed to Fishermen’s Wharf and Pier 39. So the past few trips we have taken we have learned that you really need to do the bus tours. As corny as they sound, it’s a great way to see a lot of real estate without wasting a lot of time. For instance in San Francisco it is a long way to walk from Lands End to the Embarcadero, like several miles and a lot of hills. Stops along the way may not be overly exciting either, therefore, if you take the bus tour, they take you all over the city, tell you little facts and tidbits and you get the highlights of all the cool stuff. Then when you get back from your trip you will know exactly where you want to go back to so you can spend more time. Plus many of these tours are what they call hop on hop off. This simply means there are buses that regularly run this route, so you can hop off the bus you are on, explore the area and just get on the next bus through. So in regards to San Francisco, this bus tour really fulfilled most of our places we wanted to see and in a sufficient amount of time.
After our bus tour, we walked along the Wharf and Pier 39. The entire Wharf area is so pretty, but I will say fairly commercialized. A lot of t-shirt shops and restaurants to visit, but really other than that, we didn’t see too much that made us say, we MUST spend more time here. An hour or two is really all you need. We did find a cool place that housed all kinds of antique arcade style games. This was really neat to walk around in and you can play a lot of the games also.
We then were on the hunt for dinner, and found ourselves at Original Joes noted as one of the best Italian restaurants in San Francisco. We were very happy with this choice. The food was great, service excellent, speed was perfect, not too fast, but not too slow. We had plenty of time to enjoy a glass of wine and talk, but weren’t searching for our waiter.
The next morning we were dead set on hitting the famous cable cars. We headed out from our hotel and walked a few blocks over to Powell to get our tickets. That would be us and hundreds of other folks. The line to get on was about a 2 hour wait. Knowing that we only had one day to get in anything else we wanted, a 2 hour wait was not in our time budget for the day. We held onto our tickets and took off once again for the Wharf. Luckily our bus tickets from the day before were still good for several more hours, so we just hopped on a bus and road it back to the harbor.
We walked up to Ghirardelli Square, where they used to make the delicious chocolates but the factory is no longer in operation. Instead they have an ice cream shop, a candy shop of course and a few restaurants. Again, it was nice to see but you don’t need a lot of time here either.
We then headed to our best decision of the weekend and went to GoCar Tours . This was the BEST way to see this city. You look totally ridiculous, but it’s so much fun. The vehicle gets up to about 30 mph and the package we took came with a video screen map. The tour is completely gps guided and stops when you stop and picks right back up when you get going again. We stopped at a bunch of stops along the way to get out and take pictures and even went down Lombard Street in it! I would say this is a MUST if you are able.
After our car tour, we walked over to the cable car line and got in line to use our tickets we purchased earlier in the day. We rode the cable car back toward our hotel and got off just short of China Town. We walked through China Town and back to our hotel for the evening.
What a fantastic trip! We plan to head back out that way someday and will hopefully have more time in each stop.