Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Guide: What to do in San Francisco in One Day

It's my second time going to San Francisco but there are still so much things to do! We took public transport to all the places stated below and although it looks nearly impossible to cover so many places, it's possible as long as you plan your route well with a handy map!

Free guided tours
If you are looking for free guided tours (with tips at your discretion), I recommend  the San Francisco Walking Tours. Check out their daily schedule so that you will know which tours are being conducted. These tours are perfect for those who are interested in the history of different places and don't want to go on a structured tour. 

Public transport 
With regard to public transportation options, if you want to go to the places in this post in one day, please get yourself a Muni day pass at $14. This covers all your bus rides and cable car rides which is very worth it because a cable car ride is $6 each ride without the pass. Other options include the 3 day and 7 day pass which will allow you to spend more time at each attraction. 

1) Golden Gate Park
We set out early in the morning to the Golden Gate Park because there was a free conducted tour. There are many attractions within the Golden Gate Park which you should check out. We visited the Japanese Tea Garden which was really beautiful. 

We also visited the Rose Garden which was less impressive than the Japanese Tea Garden but was interesting for the award winning roses. I would suggest giving this a miss and visiting other attractions instead, such as the Dutch Windmills.

2) Golden Gate Bridge 
You haven't been to San Francisco if you didn't visit the Golden Gate Bridge. Well, it's just a bridge but it's an icon of San Francisco! This year is the Golden Gate's 75th anniversary which means that there will be celebrations! Check out this page for the bus routes you can take. 

May 27th is the big day so if you are in San Francisco on that date, you know you can't miss it! Click this page for the countless activities happening as part of the celebration. 

3) Fisherman's Wharf 
Some say that the Fisherman's Wharf is just a tourist trap. But if it's a happening place to be with lots of things to see and eat, I don't mind falling into this trap! 

San Francisco is well known for its dungeness crabs and Fisherman's Wharf is a good spot to taste these crabs! Whether you choose to get your crabs from one of the stalls or from a proper restaurant like Crab House, you know you need to eat it at least once! 

A very colourful and vibrant place, there are all kinds of activities that will thrill adults and kids alike.

4) Lombard Street
If you are feeling in need of some exercise after feasting in San Francisco, you know that San Francisco has lots of good exercise spots for you- what's with all that steep slopes! We decided to skip the cable car when going to Lombard Street and walk up the slope you see in the picture below to the top of the slope. Boy, it was good exercise. 

Consisting of eight hairpin turns, many people call this the crookedest street in the world although it is not. Taking driving tests in San Francisco with a manual car must be the hardest thing ever.

5) Chinatown
Even though you can get Chinese food everywhere, the Chinatown in San Francisco is the biggest out of Asia. It has a comprehensive website which will be useful if you are intending to do a comprehensive tour of Chinatown, especially because it is so big. From herbs to vegetables to toys, you can practically get anything in Chinatown. 

The 1001 food selections offered at Chinatown will make you spoilt for choice. If you are craving for crabs again, go to the very well known R&G Lounge

You get to see random sculptures like this near the entrances of the Chinatown which make pretty good photo opportunities. 

Different kinds of wall murals dot the walls of San Francisco.

One particular attraction which amazes many is the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. As novel as it may seem, buying a whole pack of fortune cookie doesn't appeal to me because it's just a biscuit! It's also easy to miss this stall which is in an alley. It's interesting to watch how fortune cookies are being made but that's about it. 

6) Japantown 
The highlight of my visit at Japantown was the cherry blossom! They made my heart melt simply because they were so beautiful! It was all the more precious because apparently, the blossom period was over but we had no idea why it was still in full bloom! 

There is also a small mall kind of thing where you can get some food. The restaurant I went to, Mifune, was pretty average. You might want to look for a better Japanese restaurant!

7) Union Square/Market Street 
For your shopping needs, get down to Union Square/Market Street where all your favourite brands will be there- Forever 21, Abercombie & Fitch etc. As long as it's a popular brand, it should be somewhere in the area. 

Oh, for chocolate addicts, please go to Ghirardelli or See's Candies to get your much needed chocolate fix! (Your friends will love you if you buy any of those back for them) 

8) Cable Car 
Lastly, you need to get yourself on the cable car at least once to get somewhere! Remember, if you get the pass, it's included in the fare so you can take it as many times as you want in the day. Feel the wind brush through your hair as the cable car brings you down the steep slopes of San Francisco! 

Final words 
I'm aware that there are many other places in San Francisco that I haven't covered (e.g. Alcatraz, Nob Hill, North Beach, Mission District AT&T Park, Ferry Building, cable car museum, Walt Disney Museum etc.) but I think the above is rather representative of what you can do in San Francisco in a day! 


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