San Francisco aka “SF” or “San Fran” to us East Coasters is known as the startup mecha of the world. As the home of silicon valley, this city is diverse, populated and expensive.
After my first visit to the city, I was blown away by its amazing food and endless things to experience. After 5 days of exploring the city, these are the highlights from my trip and in my opinion must see things when you visit.
I know, I know, this is a super tourist thing to do but it was amazing. My friend and I opted for the night tour.
We hopped on the fiery which had amazing views of SF and the island. This ride was worth all the entire ticket price!
There guided audio tour is amazing and a little scary at night. The sounds make it sound as if the place is alive with prisoners.
Bike Around – see the golden gate
You can rent a bike almost anywhere in SF. There are plenty around Fisherman’s Wharf, which is where I started my journey.
We biked along the water which had amazing views of the gold gate bridge. Until we finally made it to the observation deck.
This is a must do if you are able to and love to be more active on trips.
Eat great food//ViSIT A farmers’ market
We went to an Italian seafood restaurant, which is a known local favorite – Sotto Mare. I wish this picture could do the food justice. This was as good, if not even better than some of the food I had in Italy.
I highly recommend going to a farmer’s market anywhere. We visted the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market which happens every Saturday! Nothing could beat the combination of good food, organic samples, and bay bridge views.
I wasn’t able to snap a picture but we ate at a restaurant called Nopa. It is famous for being farm to table – meaning all the ingredients are straight from the farm. You could really taste the difference.
Twin Peaks for great views
If you love an amazing view, this is a must visit spot in the city. settles on the outskirts of the city this little gem is worth the drive.
You can see the golden gate bridge to the SF skyline. After grabbing some canolis from Little Italy. We took the time to snap couple pictures looking out at the views.
Napa Valley FOR THE WINE LOVerS
After snagging a Groupon the day before we headed to Starmunt Vineyard in Nappa Valley. Through the tasting we were able to sample 4 of their wines and got a bottle of Chardonnay to take home!
All of the vineyards here are amazing. They have great wines with scenic views. Some vineyards have tastings inside of a romantic castle.
We also decided to go for a cheese tasting in Sonoma! The cheese tasting we experienced was located in a little town square. The town square was filled with shops, more wine tastings (from cheap to luxurious), and historical sites. Perfect for a day away!
Located just across the Gold Gate Bridge from San Francisco the Muir Woods is a must do when visiting the city. I have walked through many woods in my short life but the Muir Woods have beat those by far. It was one of the most beautiful and tranquil places I have ever visited. I have never felt so small in my entire life!
If you plan to make a trip to the Muir Woods, I highly recommend going as early as possible as parking fills up fast. It is also nice to go early to beat the crowds and take in the scenery quietly.
Tips for Visiting San Francisco + Notes
Yelp your way around the best places to eat.
Yelp is headquartered in San Francisco so there is no doubt that the reviews are accurate. There are places with thousands upon thousands of reviews of almost every restaurant in the city. I have never seen a place in my area with more than a few hundred. As you skim through the reviews you will see that most of the reviews are “Elite Yelpers” who are special users that review consistently with quality posts.
My friend and I exclusively went to places that were highly rated on yelp. I am happy to report that we were not disappointed with any of them. If you are looking to eat well, make sure to check yelp!
Don’t call San Francisco, San Fran.
If you are from the East Coast you probably call is San Fran. It is a short quick way of saying, why wouldn’t you? But from what I’ve heard from west coast natives, this is a no-no. It is an instant indication that you are not from the area. People there either call it by it’s full name, San Francisco or simply SF.
Ask for advice from a native.
If you know someone who lives in or has lived in San Francisco make sure to ask them questions. They are your best bets for the best things to do in the area. Natives know what spots are overrated and not worth the visit. They will also know the best times to go to any tourist area so you can avoid large crowds.
Pack lots of layers
I have noticed that whenever I visit the West Coast the weather is completely different at night and during the day. If you are going during the cooler months of the year, make sure to pack in layers. You will thank yourself later. The sun in California is very strong so it will make the days bright and warm but once that sun leaves it can become very chilly. This is especially true if you are near the water. The winds are no joke!
That’s all I have for you! If you have any questions about San Francisco or traveling in general leave a comment below! Make sure to stay safe – happy traveling!