Thank you to fellow blogger Leigh Goessl for guest blogging on The Traveling Grandma.
San Francisco is a beautiful and warm-welcoming gateway to the Pacific Ocean. A trip to San Francisco will be a treasured memory to last a lifetime. There is much to see and do in this wonderful city.
A great way to kick off your trip is to take a narrated tour. If you hop on a trolley and tour the city with one of the many companies which offer this service, you'll receive a terrific sight-seeing tour with great commentary from a local tourist guide. It's a fabulous way to get a better idea of what sites you want to explore more in-depth during your vacation.
The tour will show you popular attractions such as the Exploratorium, Presidio, Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory, Chinatown and much more. Some tours allow a few stops, the one we had also stopped at the Golden Gate Bridge. The tour lasted about two hours and it was a great time saver for us because we were able to narrow down some areas we wanted to revisit.
My Top Picks of Things to See in San Francisco
This is the number one tourist attraction and if you only plan to go to San Francisco once in your life, this is a must see. It's a good idea to purchase tickets ahead of time because they sell out quickly. The boat trip across the bay is well worth it and you'll want to leave plenty of time to explore this historical prison.
JapanTown is a very peaceful and serene place to visit and you can simply wander around the streets and malls exploring the shops and restaurants. We shopped a while, then stopped to have lunch in one of the restaurants at a mall; the food was incredibly good.
What's a trip to San Francisco without a visit to the piers? Between the restaurants, shops, arcades, street shows and other tourist attractions which call the pier home, it's fun to spend a few hours there. The sea lions who sun themselves on Pier 39 are a great free show for the kids (and adults too!). The Pampanito submarine and the Liberty WWII cargo ship are also housed on Pier 45. Touring a submarine is a unique experience, especially if you're a history enthusiast.
The Musee Mecanique
This is an "old style" arcade with historical music machines to video games. It's located down at the piers and is an excellent way to spend an hour or two. This place appears to be one of San Francisco's best kept secrets, we had no idea it was there until we stumbled upon it while exploring the piers. You can even play the nickelodeon machines for a quarter or two in this remarkable museum-like environment.
The "crookedest" street truly does exist! Definitely worth a peek and it's a great photo to bring home. If you have patience, get in line and take a drive down it for what's bound to be an interesting experience (we chose to view it from across the street because the line was too long).
Off the Beaten Path: Drive along Route 1
This outing will take you out of the city, but it's worth setting aside a day to do this. Driving the west coast shoreline is an amazing and breathtaking view and positively worth the trip. You can buy a parking pass for a small nominal fee and stop at all the beaches along the coastline to drink in the view. You'll bring home some of the most spectacular photographs.
Our trip was during August and while we were prepared for some chilly days, we didn't realize the extent of just how nippy it could get. The highest temperature the week we were there was 60 degrees, but it felt like 50! If you're planning a trip to San Francisco, no matter what the season, make sure you pack some warm clothing.
San Francisco is a great destination to visit with much to see and do. You won't be disappointed!
Be sure to thank Leigh by visiting her blogs.
Photos by Leigh Goessl
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