I have recently published a post about my arrival in San Francisco and since asked myself how to fit my amazing experience in the city in to one blog post! San Francisco has so much to offer: whether you want to spend hours in cool museums, stroll along the sandy beaches in the stunning bay area or try the delicious treats the city has to offer in one of the many restaurants & cafes – the options are endless! So I decided to share my 10 favourite places in San Francisco with you and here are the first five!
The Alcatraz Island is not only one of San Francisco’s, but the USs most visited tourist attractions! The fascinating combination of natural beauty and the historical past of the island attract more than 1.3 million global visitors every year!
You can choose to visit the island with a morning, daytime or night tour! The price ranges from $30 for a morning or daytime tour to $37 for a night tour. The tour starts from Pier 33, which is where you will board your ferry to take you to the island! Weather permitting, make sure you get a seat on the top deck – the views of the San Francisco skyline and the birds on the island are worth getting to the pier a little earlier!
Once you arrive, your tour guide will tell you a little more about the history of the island. When you make your way up to the former prison building, be prepared for a little uphill hike and don’t forget to pause and take a look around you to take in the view!
I wasn’t a big fan of the audio tour provided and would have preferred a guided tour or the option to skip some of the chapters! The night tour offers a range of additional talks and access to exhibitions – and seeing the sun set over San Francisco is worth the $7 extra!
The Ferry Building is one of my favourite landmarks in San Francisco and is located at the foot of Market Street. The building charmed me with its stunning architecture (which by the way was modelled after the tower of the Seville Cathedral in Spain), buzzing yet relaxed atmosphere and the vast offer of delicious locally sourced food and drinks.
Once inside the choice is endless – whether you want to indulge in Californian cheeses, fresh mushrooms that still carry that gorgeous forest smell or treat yourself to a glass of wine from the nearby Napa Valley! I love to explore the local cuisine where ever I am and if you’re anything like me; don’t miss this gem of your itinerary! Visit the Ferry Building on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday to check out the Farmers Market!
The Pier 39 is located within a few minutes walking distance from Fishermen’s Wharf and is a popular attraction with locals and tourists alike.
The pier is home to restaurants, shops and their most famous inhabitants, the sea lions. These quirky and noisy characters were my personal highlight of the pier visit. When you walk towards the K-Dock you can hear their distinct balk from a distance. It is an absolute joy to watch their playful nature and mischievous behaviour.
The sea lions have moved into dock after the 1989 earthquake and have since then magnificently grown in numbers, due to the perfect living conditions that the bay offers. If you don’t believe me, check out the live sea lion webcam here.
The Contemporary Jewish Museum
The Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) is located on Mission Street in San Francisco’s SoMa quarter and is currently showing seven different exhibitions. My favourite was the inspiring solo exhibit “Books to be Held: A Book Show” by San Francisco based artist Josh Greene. This exhibit celebrates the relationship between a book and its reader and showcases more than a dozen books that have belonged to and influenced famous people over the years. Each exhibit was completely unique, interactive, multi-channel and absolutely fascinating! I would really recommend a visit at the CJM! The museum is open 11am – 5pm daily (closed on Wednesdays) and adults pay $12 entry. Little tip: the entry is free every first Tuesday of the month.
Union Square is so much more than just a square – it’s a cultural experience in the center of San Francisco!
The square and surrounding area are bursting with shops, restaurants, galleries and theatres. Whether you are looking for the ultimate fashion fix, a tasty culinary experience or an entertaining show – Union Square has it! The Cheesecake Factory at the top of Macy’s is the perfect place for a drink with view over Union Square. Sit outside on their roof terrace on a sunny day and soak in the atmosphere. When you walk across the square on a Saturday or Sunday you will notice an outdoor art gallery called the “Red Umbrellas”.
The gallery is a community of different artists showcasing their work on the square. I was completely smitten by the spiritual artwork of Marion I. Maenner. She hit the nail on the head when she described her pieces as “a carnival of materials enriched with color and meaning”.