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Walking San Francisco's 49-mile drive
My sweetheart and I are perpetual tourists in our city. We figure if we live here the rest of our lives, we will never discover all the secrets the city holds. That doesn't stop us from trying.
One of our favorite past-times, and one of our favorite ways to learn about hidden treasures here in San Francisco, is walking the 49-mile scenic drive--a mile or two at a time.
Sure, we could drive it in about three and a half hours, if we had a car. Joseph M. Lubow and Laurel Rosen, who wrote the sweet little guidebook you see highlighted on the right, planned it that way.
Luckily for us, though, they included walking instructions, as well as bus instructions, for those who cannot or do not wish to walk, but want to go at a slower pace than driving.
Seven miles by seven miles, with lots of hills
San Francisco sits at the end of a peninsula and is surrounded on three sides by water--the Pacific Ocean on the west and the San Francisco Bay on the north and east. The city is roughly seven square miles in size, hence the 49-mile drive.
If you have visited our sometimes golden, sometimes foggy city, you already know it is a hilly town. Some folks claim it has seven hills, just like Rome. In fact, it has seven hills--and a whole lot more. If you take the tour on foot, you want to assure you have a stout heart, good walking shoes and a (reusable) bottle of water.
Whether you drive, walk, or bus, you can start from any point you like in the guidebook. Separated into fourteen convenient segments, the guidebook notes mileage for each segment, as well as popular cafes and little known attractions or favorite spots the locals frequent. You will find lots of tips, tidbits, and interesting call-outs, so you don't miss a thing.
Should you decide to follow Lubow and Rosen's guidebook from start to finish, you will start at San Francisco's Civic Center, home to our City Hall, with a rotunda taller than the dome of the U.S. capitol.
The pedestrian mall across from City Hall teems on the weekend with locals practicing Tai Chi and Qui Gong, joggers and walkers out for their morning run, and public events of just about every spiritual or political belief you can imagine.
You know about Chinatown, but have you visited our French Quarter, nearby?
Moving on, your trek will take you through well-known parts of the city, such as our famed Chinatown and North Beach, and to lesser known areas, such as Little Saigon and our French Quarter, where if you check the restaurant windows as you go by, very likely you will see former Mayor Willie Brown holding court with some of San Francisco's most colorful politicians and characters.
There are the ocean and bay fronts, of course. You might want to walk out on Golden Gate Bridge and feel the winds whipping your jacket and slacks. Or walk the boardwalk and visit the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building on the far eastern side of the city.
Along the way, you will encounter street musicians and entertainers, specialty book stores, and art galleries filled with magnificent, amusing and sometimes tawdry art. You will come across sculptures hidden away, off the beaten path, that stop you in your tracks, and views and vistas that take your breath away.
Chock full of annotated bits and lore
Through it all, thanks to Lubow and Rosen's insider knowledge, you will discover fascinating facts about the history and lore of this city that make the tour all the more interesting.
If you're planning a trip to San Francisco, get the guidebook ahead of time and plan the spots you want to spend some time. Bringing children? You will love the guidebook, because it takes you to plenty of little parks along the way, where the children can run and play and slide and swing and blow off pent-up energy.
Below, I've included a few pictures from our walks on the tour. All photographs are my own and I ask you to respect my copyright and ask before using them.
Best wishes, and welcome to San Francisco!
For more fascinating stories and scenery, try Bacon's Barbary Coast Trail book and really dive into some history.
San Francisco is one of the planet's greenest cities and strives to reduce waste, especially plastic waste polluting our waterways and oceans. You will fit right in with this Kleen Kanteen Stainless Steel water bottle.
Photo GalleryClick thumbnail to view full-size
It's nearly Halloween, when travelers from all over the world come to our city to dress up and revel in the biggest Halloween party in the world. If you are making the trip this year, grab a copy of this this handy guide and take in the sights while you're here