I visited San Francisco for the first time in December 2011, for four days, before flying back to England for Christmas. We stayed at the Green Tortoise Hostel, which was really social and fun, including a free keg night in the huge ‘ballroom’ social area.
The first thing we did after finding each other at the airport and dumping our bags at the hostel was head to the Golden Gate Bridge. No trip to San Francisco is complete without a thousand pictures of this famous landmark, so that’s exactly what we did. We walked over halfway across the bridge before turning back. SF is well-known for the fog coming off the bay, so I felt really lucky that we had such a beautiful day to visit the bridge. The views all around were stunning.
We explored Fisherman’s Wharf by night.
The next day we got out exploring the city. We hopped on and off the cable cars, first stop Chinatown.
Next we headed to Lombard Street, which is famous for a steep, one-block section that contains eight tight hairpin turns.
We also visited the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood of San Francisco. Famous for its role as the centre of the hippie movement in the 60s, the area has a really cool vibe, with many independent shops, and unique artwork adorning the buildings.
We then continued on to Alamo Square, recognised by the row of Victorian Houses lining one side of the park (known as the ‘Painted Ladies’) which feature in the opening sequence of TV show, Full House. I loved it here.
The next morning we took a trip to Alcatraz! It costs around $30, which includes the boat ride over to the island, and a guided tour and audio tour of the prison. Make sure you book in advance!
The tours were really interesting, and during the free time to explore I was shut into one of the black-out, isolation cells for 30 seconds. It was horrible. When I came out, the tour guide said it was the same cell that Clint Eastwood had been shut into during filming at the prison! Pretty cool.
After Alcatraz, we took a walk up Coit Tower. I think this was one of the best things we did in San Francisco, costs only $7, and although a very steep walk and not recommended for those with fear of heights, the views from the top were absolutely stunning. We went just before sunset and it was glorious!
The final stop on our trip to SF was to visit City Lights bookshop, and the Beat Museum. Having studied American literature for two and a half years of university at this point, it was fascinating to visit the centre of the Beat poetry movement, and the home of writers such as Kerouac and Ginsberg.