San Francisco, California! Known as the Bay Area is complete with the famous Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, Seals, Alcatraz, Historical Architecture, Chinatown, Ghirardelli Chocolate, Cable Cars and so much more. This thriving city has become a well known, top destination spot for tourist around the world. Anytime we have ever met someone who has visited San Francisco they says they want to return, and anyone we meet who hasn't visited always says they want to go.
Located in the mid-northern region of California, just South West of Sacramento, San Francisco is one of the most populous cities in the United States and is home to a number of cultural happenings that draw tourists from all over the world annually.
San Francisco was once a Spanish mission that gained Mexican rule when Mexico won it's independence from Spain in 1821. Later, around 1840, many American's began to inhabit the San Francisco lands desiring to gain control over the area. After America gained this territory, due to its easy access and port location, San Francisco became a hot spot for those fleeing West in hopes of discovering Gold during the Gold Rush. As transportation technology expanded, the city has grown. For example, the creation of the famous cable car made it's hilly demeanor a more accessible location for those desiring to relocate or just visit this gem.
( https://www.history.com )
How To get there
San Francisco is a very convenient city to travel to and around. San Francisco International Airport allows you to travel to and from this destination hot spot from all over the world with limited connections. Once you arrive to SFO you can take the BART rail service to any surrounding area or downtown. If you know which hotel you are staying at you can also check to see if they offer hotel shuttles to and from the airport.
If you're traveling like us, you will want to get your hands behind your very own steering wheel. So, you will want to choose one of the rental companies - which operates conveniently right at the SFO Airport. We chose Alamo car rental and had a great experience throughout our entire journey from San Francisco to L.A.
Parking in and around San Francisco was a breeze. It's a very car friendly, as well as biker and walker friendly town. There are parking decks conveniently located throughout all of the downtown area. We opted for the Polk-Bush Garage where we paid $3 per hour. Once we were parked we were able to hop on and off the cable cars and/or walk to the majority of our desirable downtown/pier destinations.
Another cool option that San Francisco offers is the availability of renting a bike to tour the city. You can pay $3 for a 30 minute bike ride or $10 for the day. The Rental Bike is a great option for exploring many cities and we have used it on occasion. However, if you choose this route be aware that San Francisco is extremely hilly so you may want to have a well planned route that is less hilly before opting for the bikes.
Before traveling to San Francisco we did quite a bit of research on traveling within and around the city. TripAdvisor has a great link that includes information regarding The San Francisco Transit. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency also provides some very specific maps to assist with your travels throughout the Bay Area.
When to visit
San Francisco is truly a year-round city. It's most popular time of travel is during the Summer Months of June and July. This is when you will experience most crowds. If you're looking for a less crowded time to visit, when the weather is still fairly nice, the Spring months of April and May, as well as the Fall months of September and October are notably desirable and can be more affordable times to travel.
We personally visited San Francisco during the early part of October. During the day the weather was comfortable; sweater or quarter length sleeves and jeans weather; and the nights were cooler. San Francisco has consistently cool temperatures around the 60's -70's during the day and 50's in the evenings. We recommend wearing layers, and definitely bring those walking shoes. San Francisco is extremely hilly and the most efficient way of getting around can be walking so be prepared for getting your leg work-out.
What to do
It may surprise you that one of the first tourist destinations you're likely to hear about in San Francisco was at one time a famous Federal Penitentiary that operated from 1934 to 1963. Alcatraz has housed some of the most well-known criminals of its day such as Al Capone and it has gained the title of "The Rock" due to its island, inaccessible location.
Although Alcatraz is known for it's inmate population it has a rich history to offer such as playing a role in the American Indian Movement as well as the Civil War.
Tours are available daily. You can book your tour online choosing between many different options of the length of your stay and the specifics of your visit. Tickets range anywhere between $25.00 and $100.00 depending on your age and how in-depth of an experience you wish to have while there.
Fisherman's wharf & Pier 39
Fisherman's wharf has been a thriving landmark in San Francisco since the early days of it's existence. At one point Fishermans Wharf served as the main port of entry into San Francisco bringing in resources, people and, of course, fish! The growth of the city began right here on the waters edge. Many residents of San Francisco have made their living fishing the waters of the Wharf and now it serves as not only a thriving boat/fishing scene, but also a main tourist attraction in the area.
Head over to one of San Francisco's sweetest stops. Ghiradelli, a Californian originated chocolate factory is a must stop for any chocolate lover. Ghiradelli Square, the original location of Ghiradelli Chocolate now houses shops and other stores but you certainly won't want to visit without checking out the ice cream or chocolate store.
The Chinatown of San Francisco is an experience that you do not need to miss out on, not only for the lively culture, but if anything for the exquisite food. Be sure to check out iconic stops such as the Fortune Cookie Factory, Dragon Gate, and House of Nanking while you are there.
Palace of Fine Arts
Drive dOWN lOMBARD sTREET
Where to lodge
One of the big questions we had before visiting San Francisco was where is the best place to stay? What are the good neighborhoods? Where would be a convenient location? What's a reasonable price?
Wine & Dine
Extra Tips & Tricks
Share the journey
*All photos used in this post are the sole content of BestCaptured*
We are the Best's! Jo and Mo. Founders of BestCapturedTravel!
We have been immensely blessed with many opportunities to see various parts of the world. We live an average, working life in Raleigh, NC but through our many opportunities have developed a passion to see the world. Our goal is to share with other desiring travelers different tips and experiences from around the world as we begin to check them off our bucket list. If anything, we hope to provide a little sense of motivation and adventure to those wishing to embark on their own journey!
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