We have 3 nights staying at the beautiful, cool, quirky, popular and lively San Francisco, a place where the
We drove past a couple of stunning spots along the way up to San Fran, the highlights being the idyllic Carmel and the fun Santa Cruz boardwalk. If you drive anywhere near this part of the world you must must stop at Carmel, ideally staying the night. It has stunning gift shops along the prettiest all American street you can imagine and a ridiculously lovely beach. Santa Cruz boardwalk was voted the world's best with its very well kept attractions that are a nice mix of old and new. It was out of season when we went so most things were closed, however we still enjoyed it as we reminisced about our childhoods.
We stayed just outside of the city because on our budget we could only afford an Airbnb room that was a 25 min walk and 10 min underground (Bart) ride away. Our 2 full days were split into sightseeing everything in the city and exploring the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge where there is good hiking across the mountains overlooking the city.
Highlights of our self guided city tour include going through China Town and Little Italy, both with plenty of food options to suit your taste, and visiting the famous Ghirardelli Square. Ghirardelli is a chocolate manufacturer and shop that was first set up in 1852. It is now set in a square made up of 2 Ghirardelli ice cream parlours selling sundaes, hot drinks and all sorts of chocolate treats, a chocolate shop, a couple of wine bars, cafes and gift shops. This is a must visit spot as we got free chocolate tasters in their shop and could then walk a few metres to the water where there is a beach, beautiful picnic areas and the start of the famous walk along Fishermans Wharf leading to Pier 39. It is a brilliant area with lots of good touristy food and drink places. You can also get trips to Alcatraz from here.
The rest of our day also included a quirky walk up to Coit tower which overlooks the bay and parts of the city centre. We reached it from the east side going up steep stairs which run alongside people's mini garden fronts. Very cool and a bit different.
We finished off the day by walking through the Red Light district which has funky bars and hipster foodie places, then the city centre as night began to fall. We were impressed which each corner of the city and perhaps did not need another day as we felt we covered most things. If you hired bikes to Golden Gate Bridge, went across on the ferry to Alcatraz and walked through the GGB park you could easily enjoy a few days here.
Two days was good enough for us as we spent day 2 hiking across the water and the nipping back to Fishermans Wharf for some fish clam chowder before driving the world famous Lombard street, the crookedest street in the world!