San Francisco is a place that I was looking forward to our whole USA trip. I don’t know why, since I didn’t do much research about what there is to do there, really. I knew these things about SF: Full House was set there, there are trams, there are hills, there is Alcatraz. That’s it!
We decided to do an Air B&B and I booked us a place that was reasonably priced, though far from the city itself. San Fran is a city connected by bridges, and in particular the strangely named Golden Gate Bridge. It’s actually orange, so I was confused by that. It turns out the bridge is not named for its colour but its location, the Golden Gate Strait, the entrance into the bay from the Pacific Ocean. The colour of the bridge is technically “international orange” and this blog post is an interesting read describing the ins and outs of touching up the bridge.
San Fran is known for its fog and grey days but while we were there it was sunshine every day. We drove into the city our first full day and had brunch at a hipster café where we had to wait about 40 minutes just to get a table. It was very difficult to choose just one breakfast item so I had 1.5 breakfasts to enjoy the savory and the sweet options. This is my burden in life. Not being able to make decisive breakfast choices. After brunch we browsed in some shops in the downtown and were delighted to see there was a local market taking place with veggies and flowers and beeswax. We felt like we wouldn’t mind living in San Francisco. It seemed very charming.
We also drove to find the Full House house. It was kind of cool, but it didn’t have the red front door I remembered. Full House was my favourite show from 1987 to 1995. I have a clear memory of having the chicken pox and being so miserable that nothing helped me feel better except being chased around the house by my little sister, and the knowledge that Full House was going to be on soon. Below you will find a picture from my school book from Grade 2. Anyway, after seeing the house used in the opening song of the show, we went to Land’s End where we did a bit of a walk along the windy chilly coast to view the bay and the bridge too. In the evening we celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary (belated) at Luna Blu, a very nice Italian restaurant in a darling part of SF called Tiburon. We kind of wished we lived there.
Our next day we took a tour of Alcatraz. For those of you who don’t know, there is a small island in the San Francisco bay 2 kms from shore which is only 22 acres and holds the old prison building(s) of the maximum security prison which operated from 1934 – 1963. Nowadays it is a huge tourist draw and the audio tour there is fabulous. It is very comprehensive, with recordings, voice actors, and also past inmates participating in making the audio tour so interesting. It is such a popular thing to do in SF, so book your time slot early, especially if you are interested in the evening tour.
We spent some time in the very busy Pier 39 wandering through the shops and eating our lunch. Now, no visit to SF would be complete without a trip on a tram. We waited patiently for our turn to ride the tram on the Powell Mason line. It was quite a thrill for me to go so far up and then to go seemingly straight down. Locals don’t really seem to ride the trams as it is now more of a touristy thing to do.
San Francisco is a place you could easily spend a week but it is doable to do in a long weekend. We were really only there for a total of 65 hours or so.
The morning we left San Francisco we drove about 6 hours to Redwoods National Park to see some more trees. We just drove through the park and did a little stroll to view the tallest trees in the world. Redwoods was nice but after seeing all of the other parks we’d been to recently, it wasn’t as special as we thought it would be. We were definitely more impressed with the Sequoias.