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We're taking a brief interval from our road trip to explore The Golden City.

We didn’t want to just blow through San Francisco on a whirlwind tour while driving down the California coast. So we dropped off our rental car and booked five days to explore as much of San Francisco as we could by foot and public transport – mostly by foot. We really got our steps up!


Our first rainy day in the USA.

We’ve had such good luck with weather since we arrived in America. So we really couldn’t complain when we woke to pouring rain on the day we left Sonoma for San Francisco. We arrived in Sausalito with a plan to enjoy breakfast and explore the streets, but with the heavy rain and our lack of umbrellas, it didn’t end up being the morning we planned. We stopped for coffee and a bagel at Sausalito Bakery & Café and sat at the window, enjoying our hot cups of coffee as we looked out to the bay.

Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge was a pretty exciting way to begin our time in San Francisco, despite the slight chaos from the rain. We stopped by our hotel to check in and drop off our bags before saying goodbye to our rental car that had taken us all the way from Portland to here. By this time, we were keen for lunch and conveniently around the corner from the rental car shop was an In-N-Out, which Clark had never had before.

The rain had eased by the time we finished our burgers and fries, so the next stop was to explore Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. Bec made a dash straight for the sea lions, who were making quite a loud commotion. We checked out the souvenir shops and resisted the temptation of the smell of doughnuts, crepes and churros.

When we were done walking around the piers, we decided to walk from Fisherman’s Wharf over to the Golden Gate Bridge for sunset. We walked along the bay, stopping to admire the view at many points along the way. After the morning of heavy rain, we were treated to a very beautiful sunset, turning the sky a wash of pastel pinks, oranges and blues. We walked all the way back from the bridge and stopped by Trader Joe's (Bec’s new favourite supermarket) to grab food for dinner. That completed our 30,900 steps for the day, and we jumped into bed with very sore feet, ready for a well-earned night’s sleep.


Ticking off the tourist attractions.

Today was forecast to be one of the only sunny days we would get in San Francisco. If that was the case (which it kind of was), we were going to make the most of it and tick off as many outdoor sites as we could. We started with a trip to Alcatraz Island in the morning. We were on the first ferry at 8:40 am, which meant the island wasn’t too busy for the first 45 minutes of our visit. We did the cell block audio tour and walked around the very windy and chilly island. We left at 11 am on the ferry back to the city.

From Pier 33 we walked to the Mason/Powell cable car stop on Taylor Street. We caught the cable car up to Powell and Market street and walked across Downtown. We stopped to check out City Hall, the War Memorial Opera House and the Symphony Hall. We grabbed some takeaway food from Souvla on Hayes Street and had a picnic on the grass in the sun at Alamo Square with a view of The Painted Ladies and the city behind.

We walked from The Painted Ladies through the different suburbs of San Francisco over to the famous crooked section of Lombard Street. By this point, we were both ready to rest our feet again, so as the sun set, we retreated to our hotel for a quiet night in.


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

On our walk to the Golden Gate Bridge on day one, we noticed a parked truck with a sign for a Christmas Tree Lot in Fort Mason. We’ve never been shopping for a real Christmas tree, and although we have no need for one while travelling, we couldn’t resist checking it out. We walked the rows of trees, absorbing the smell and checking out all the decorations we couldn’t fit into our suitcases.

Once we'd got our dose of Christmas cheer, we grabbed a coffee from Equator Coffee and walked over to Ghirardelli Square to escape the incoming rain. We picked up a bag of chocolates to try from the Ghirardelli Chocolate Experience and wandered through all the gift shops. We skipped breakfast by accident, so by 12 pm, we were very ready for lunch. We got a table at the San Francisco Brewing Co and enjoyed pizza and a few drinks while we watched Australia in the World Cup. We caught a break in the rain to walk back to our hotel, then stayed dry inside, catching up on work for the afternoon and night.


Good coffee and delicious Chinese food.

Our fourth day in San Francisco was mostly a day of work. First thing in the morning, we ventured out to get coffee at Beacon Coffee & Pantry. This was one of the best coffees we had in San Francisco, along with the coffee we had at Fiddle Fig the morning we left San Francisco. We brought our coffees back to the hotel, where we set up to work into the early afternoon.

Later in the day, we caught the cable car up to Union Square. We walked around the Winter Wonderland that had been set up for Christmas and window-shopped along the streets. We then walked south on Grant Avenue to Chinatown. As we explored the streets of Chinatown, the weather took a turn (again), so we ducked into a basement restaurant called New Woey Loy Goey for dinner. Thankfully the rain had passed once we had finished dinner, so we walked south again through Chinatown, North Beach and ended at Pier 39. We watched the Christmas tree light show and visited the sea lions once again before slowly wandering back to our hotel.


A re-do on Sausalito.

We woke up early this morning, and to our surprise, the weather forecast had changed from rain to just cloudy. Before mother nature could change her mind, we put on our running shoes and headed down to the waterfront. After a run (well, Clark ran, Bec prefers a brisk walk), we returned to our hotel, freshened up, and went to catch the ferry to Sausalito.

We visited Sausalito on our first day but didn’t get to see much due to the weather. This day however, the sun was shining, there were only a few clouds in the sky, and at times it was even warm enough to take off our puffer jackets. We grabbed a coffee from Firehouse Coffee & Tea to enjoy down by the Yacht Harbour. We stopped at Books by the Bay (Bec can’t skip a bookstore), walked along the waterfront, visited the Sea Lion Sculpture and wandered through the boutiques. We treated ourselves to an ice cream from Lappert’s Ice Cream & Yogurt and waited by the water for the return ferry.

Later that afternoon we explored the Embarcadero neighbourhood. We strolled along Pier 7 and walked through the Ferry Building, coming very close to purchasing enough gifts and homewares from the Fog City Flea Trading Post to fill an entire suitcase. For dinner, we stopped at Boudin Bakery, where Clark enjoyed a clam chowder, Bec enjoyed a tomato soup, and we shared a grilled cheese.


For a short stay on a tighter budget, San Remo Hotel was a good choice. The hotel was very cosy and in a great, safe location. It’s a short walk from Fisherman’s Wharf, the waterfront and the cable cars to Downtown and Chinatown. The room was very small, which was sometimes difficult with two people and two lots of luggage. Besides the room size, everything else was fine. The room had a wardrobe, mirror, lots of hanging hooks, bedside tables, a heater, a sound machine and very cute décor. The shared bathrooms were decent, and the microwave and filtered water were handy, but sadly the coffee machine was broken when we were there.


After a brief intermission, we are jumping back into our California Road Trip.


When planning our travel destinations, we pin our bucket list of sites to see and recommended places to eat and drink on Google Maps. We are then never lost for ideas when travelling, and can easily share these lists for our friends and family to use as well.

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