When travelling, ‘winging it’ can sometimes seem like the best approach, especially if you’re drawn to the appeal of the unknown. It can offer you a whole heap of spontaneous fun and make memories that last a lifetime. It’s the thrill of not knowing who you’ll meet, where you’ll end up or when you might come home.
My visit to San Francisco could be described as a lot like the above and although some would say it’s a little naive, sometimes I like to just book a hotel, turn up and hope for the best. This usually works out for me in the best possible way most of the time, but a word of advice – San Francisco is not a place to do such things. Definitely do your research.
The strange thing about San Francisco is that it’s a really small, so parts of it can feel like you’re entering another world when really you’re only a street away from the one before. A quiet, leafy green street with perfect houses can quickly merge into a dark street with depleted buildings, rubbish filled sidewalks and people that look like the cast from The Walking Dead. I ended up staying in the latter part, in a place called The Tenderloin District. Those that are familiar with San Fran will know where I’m talking about and those that aren’t familiar, well, it’s best to just follow my advice and don’t stay there (or even visit that area for that matter). I believe there’s always a silver lining to any travel mishap and for me in this instance it’s so I can tell you what not to do, and what you should do instead:
Things to Do:
ALCATRAZ – A day trip to Alcatraz is a must, but be sure to book your trip months in advance as it does sell out. Alcatraz is an island off the coast of San Francisco that was actually a prison from 1933 until 1963 that housed some of America’s most dangerous felons such as Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. If you’re interested in history or curious for the unknown, this tour is definitely a highlight. You can book your tickets here.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK – If you have time, definitely do a trip out to Yosemite National Park (actually do it even if you don’t have time)! A couple of nights is best but even if you can only do a day trip, the five hours spent to get there on a bus each way is definitely worth it. I did a day trip in August through Incredible Adventures and if you get Leo as your tour guide then you’re in luck! You can book your tickets here.
GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE – We hired bikes to ride over the Golden Gate Bridge and for me it felt really surreal, something that I can’t wait to do again. It’s an amazing way to get the best views of the city and even if you get a foggy day like we did, it’s still definitely worth it.
LOMBARD ST – Lombard St is literally a street in San Francisco that is famous for being the ‘crookedest street in the World’.
PAINTED LADIES – Sanfrancisco’s Painted Ladies is a group of Victorian and Edwardian houses situated in rows near Alamo Square. It’s a picture perfect opportunity and although there isn’t anything to do once you’re there, it’s an iconic sight worth viewing.
Where to Stay:
MARINA DISTRICT – Stay in the Marina District if you can, it’s a quiet, waterfront area that can sometimes be expensive but it’s safe and clean. If you’re smart check out Airbnb like our friends did and be treated to an affordable stay with the added bonus of a personal insight into the city from your host. The Marina District is also not far from the famous Lombard St which is also a must view.