Let's Go to San Fransisco!

Immoralized in Song

  • "If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear flowers in your hair. . . you're gonna meet some gentle people there." sung by Scott McKenzie, written by John Phillips from the Mama & the Papas 1967
  • "When the lights go down in the city and the sun shines on the bay . . . oh, I wanna be there in my city." sung by Journey, written by Neal Schon & Steve Perry 1978
  • "I left my heart in San Francisco . . ." sung by Tony Bennett 1962
  • "San Francisco Days, San Francisco Nights . . .I still love you." by Chris Isaak

"San Fransisco has but one flaw; 'tis hard to leave." -Rudyard Kipling

San Fransisco is the most densely populated city in California! Second in the nation after New York. It was named after the Spanish "Saint Francis" and Father Junipero Serra founded Mission Delores there.

It is built on a major earthquake fault (history records a whopper in 1906 which also resulted in fire) and I lived through one known as the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 that caused part of the Bay bridge to collapse. That was an 6.9 on the richter scale. The names of streets are often stamped into the pavement so people can navigate should another big one hit the city.

Much of San Francisco, like New York, is built on "reclaimed" land from the sea. The shoreline was much more inland than it is today. The Marina district is built on many of the crumpled buildings and debris from the 1906 earthquake.

San Francisco was once a settlement known as "Yerba Buena" until it changed it's name in 1847. It has one of the highest number of homeless per capita than any other major city in the United States.

Public nudity was legal until 2013, but you just never know! One visit, we were passed by a nudist group of bike riders, male and female alike, so families with small children, be alert.

San Fransisco, California

What is your favorite San Fransisco landmark?

  • The Golden Gate Bridge
  • crooked, bricked-layed Lombard Street
  • Coit Tower
  • the Cable Cars
See results without voting

Fun Things to Do:

  • Grab some clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl.
  • Tour Alcatraz (the famous prison out on an island in the bay) Make reservations EARLY as it will be sold out weeks in advance during tourist seasons.
  • Tour the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie factory in Ross Alley in Chinatown. (near Jackson & Grant) Grab a bag of "Fortune coins" -- (actually fortune cookies that aren't up to par, too small or over cooked a bit so they are sold round, flat and fortuneless. They will usually give you fresh cookies, still warm with your purchases.
  • Drive down Lombard Street. (Check your brakes!) It is one way, accessed by Larkin or Hyde (also one way streets) from the top. Another crooked street less crowded is Vermont between 20th & 22nd street.
  • Cable cars are crowded but can be viewed at their "turnarounds" on Market and near Ghirardelli Square
  • Speaking of Chocolate, go sample some at Ghirardelli Square, just blocks awar from Pier 39.
  • Catch a Giants game at the AT&T park on the bay
  • Picnic in Alamo Square (near Steiner and Fulton). This is also where the "Painted Ladies" are, the brightly colored Victorian houses on the opening sequence of TV's "Full House" sitcom. Also nearby is the quaint "Archbishop's Mansion" bed & breakfast. Rooms named after famous operas.
  • Tour Mission Delores, founded in 1776 by Father Junipero Serra. It is the oldest building in San Fransisco and the oldest original mission still intact and operational.
  • Walk the Golden Gate Bridge! Drop off guests on the city side, have a driver meet you on the Marin side. You can catch the bridge by following Lombard out past the Presidio. Ther is no bridge toll northbound.
  • Coit Tower sits on Telegraph Hill. It gives grand vistas of the city. For the brave, hike the hills to Lombard street from here. It is a mere six blocks, but you'll feel like you've walked longer!
  • Take a sail on the bay! Whale watchers, glass bottom boats and sailboats will offer you take you out on the water and under the Golden Gate bridge for a different perspective.
  • Take a ferry to Pier 39. You can catch a ferry in Vallejo and miss all the expensive parking in the city.
  • Golden Gate Park has museums and beauty in abundance. Like Central Park in New York, it is a refreshing break from the asphalt jungle. Stables, Japanese Tea Gardens, golf courses and outdoor ampitheaters.
  • The interactive Exploritorium museum sits on the bay just off Lombard. Near the famous dome of the Palace of Fine Arts, this hands-on experience takes you in the land of science and human experience as you play with your senses. Thought provoking exhibits and tools will make a kid out of anyone.
  • Take the 49 Mile Drive. Follow signs around town to hit all the sites by car. Created in 1938. www.sanfrancisco.travel/maps/49-Mile-Scenic-drive

Come Prepared!

What to Bring:
Be Aware:
Jacket - it gets chilly!
Many one-way streets and no left turns. Be prepared to navigate by going around blocks by turning right.
Sense of serendipity -- surprises always await you here
Steep hills and dips can reduce visability. Drive cautiously. Make sure brakes are in working order and avoid driving stick shifts here.
"Anyone who doesn't have a great time in San Francisco, is pretty much dead to me." By Anthony Bourdain (American author, chef and TV personality)
Featured in the movie "Pursuit of Happyness," this Chinese musician is both talented and engaging.  Right next door to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Facotry in Ross Alley.
Featured in the movie "Pursuit of Happyness," this Chinese musician is both talented and engaging. Right next door to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Facotry in Ross Alley.
Must stop in and smell the freshly baked bread on the Boudin Cafe on Fisherman's Wharf!
Must stop in and smell the freshly baked bread on the Boudin Cafe on Fisherman's Wharf!

There's still more!

  • The Sea Lions of Pier 39 have drastically reduced in number in recent years. No one knows quite why.
  • Stop in for lunch at Bubba Gump's Shrimp and pose with Forrest's shoes outside on Pier 39.
  • Ride the outdoor carousel and listen to the street musicians entertain.
  • Check out the street artist as he uses his spray can for art instead of graffiti.
  • Japantown and Little Siagon don't get the press that Chinatown does, but are still worth the experience if you have the time
  • Cross the Golden Gate bridge into Sausalito and see the town of houseboats. (Seen on the classic Disney movie "Super Dad" in the 1970s.)
  • Madam Toussad's Wax Museum and Ripley's Believe it or Not both are located just across the street from Fisherman's Wharf

Ever try Cinnamon Chocolate?  Sea Salt? Cabernet?  They're all here!
Ever try Cinnamon Chocolate? Sea Salt? Cabernet? They're all here!
You 'aint had "fresh seafood" until you've stopped in San Francisco.
You 'aint had "fresh seafood" until you've stopped in San Francisco.

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