After I shared the first half of my Top10 places to visit in San Francisco with you yesterday, it is time to reveal the second half! Easter Monday was my last full day in the city and I had planned a cycling tour through the nearby Napa Valley! A few years ago when I was backpacking through New Zealand I worked on the vineyards in Marlborough and my love for wine was born! Unfortunately my budget at the time didn’t exactly allow a luxury wine tasting tour in the region so I never got to see that side of the vineyards! Ever since it was my dream to do a wine tour – so I booked one in California’s famous wine region – Napa Valley. Little did I know that the organiser would cancel on me two days before the tour! Disappointed doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling. That was until I spotted this cool little yellow miniature car called a Go Car and decided to spend the day exploring the outskirts of the city in it. Here are my highlights of this amazingly fun trip!
The Marina & Crissy Fields Beach
The tour started at Fishermen’s Wharf and after only a few minutes of driving you can see the open and for San Francisco strangely flat Marina District. Stroll along the Marina district to watch pelicans dive into the water to catch fish and if you look closely at the stones near the shore you will be able to spot hundreds of tiny crabs, which the region is so famous for. The atmosphere feels friendly and relaxed as kids fly their kites, sporty locals take their daily run along the ocean and families enjoy an afternoon walk with their dog!
Keep walking or driving along towards Crissy Fields and you will spot a beautiful little beach with a fantastic view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Once you’re past the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge, you will notice a beautiful long beach to your right – that’s Baker Beach. Try to stop at the first pull-in to your right and walk down the 384 steps to the Northern end of Baker Beach.
Walking through the natural dunes, you can see the Pacific Ocean straight ahead of you and the Golden Gate Bridge to your right. This is the perfect spot to relax and take in your surroundings.
Baker Beach was the original setting for the well-known Burning Man arts festival. After just four years the festival had to re-locate to Nevada in 1990 as the authorities classed it as too much of a fire hazard.
Driving along the coast I was constantly stunned by the landscape and amazing views! It’s in complete contrast to the impressions I had gathered Down Town. Being exposed to the raw beauty of the cliffs and the ocean makes you feel small, but alive. Lands End is located at the North Western corner of San Francisco and one of it’s many charms is the site of the former Sutro Baths. What once was opened as the world’s largest indoor swimming pool establishment is now a set of picturesque ruins.
Whether you get lost walking along the remains of the baths or simply admire them from one of the diners at the top while sipping a cold glass of iced tea, it’s definitely worth a trip!
Golden Gate Park
Whenever I visit a new city, I love exploring the local parks. It’s so important for a city to have green areas where people can unwind and find shelter from the busy city life. So naturally I couldn’t wait to check out the famous Golden Gate Park. The park is often compared to New York’s Central Park and although it might not have the same international reputation, it is 20% larger in size and has got plenty of sights and activities to offer. Besides large green areas and a wide range of exotic trees the park has a Japanese Tea Garden, seven lakes, a Bison Paddock, museums and a stadium. I could have spent an entire day in the Golden Gate Park, but unfortunately I was running out of time and had to make my way back to return the car.
The final highlight of the day was world’s crookedest street – Lombard Street. The street is so well known for its eight sharp turns that have been designed to reduce the hill’s steep decline. The recommended speed limit on this part of Lombard Street is 5 miles per hour, which may sound slow but as you’re working your way down each turn it feels a lot faster than that!
This was the perfect experience to round up an unforgettable day of exploring San Francisco! So if you’re planning to visit the city, I would definitely recommend adding any one of these places, if not all of them to your travel itinerary.