San Francisco is big and diverse, enough so that you could easily fill several weeks. But for those travelers who only had a few days to spend there – like myself – here is my Top 10 of San Francisco places that can easily be done in 3 days.
10. Golden Gate Park
For when you need a time off from the big city. You will find a pond, a bison range, a restaurant and a café, two Dutch windmills here as well as plenty of space for a picnic.
No San Francisco visit is complete without seeing the typical houses that we usually associate with this city. The most popular among them are certainly the Painted Ladies; they are nice but I found them much less impressive than some of the surrounding houses. Just take the bus, get off at a stop somewhere in the vicinity and get lost walking the streets.
8. Fisherman’s Wharf
Very touristy and lined with souvenir shops. But this is also the place to go to have the famous Clam Chowder that is traditionally served in a bread bowl. Yummy!
7. Cable Cars
I actually didn’t manage to ride one, but I saw them in the streets and San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without them. They belong here just as the Golden Gate Bridge does.
This part of the city is the origin of the hippie counterculture and is still a main spot for alternative lifestyle. I also found this district one of the prettiest ones.
5. Pacific Coast
There’s a new point on my bucket list: Drive the pacific coast road. Unlike the Atlantic coast, this side seems more wild and untamed. It reminds me a lot of Ireland, to be honest.
4. Golden Gate Bridge
Whether clouded in fog or lit in golden sunshine, this bridge always looks impressive and beautiful. Always worth a visit.
3. Palace of Fine Arts
Despite many visitors, this place radiates a sense of calm and serenity. It can make you forget that you are in a big city. Beautiful architecture and very adorable lagoon with many birds and even a swan couple.
2. The Castro
Castro is at the same time very laid back and colorful and quirky. No matter who you are or how you dress (or choose not to dress at all) – everybody’s welcome here and no one bats an eye.
1. Sea lions on Pier 39
Salty sea air and entertainment – perfect for a relaxed stroll in the afternoon or when you want to spend some hours reading a good book, accompanied by the cries of the sea lions.
All of the above mentioned places you can see and experience in 3 days. But if you have more time on your hands, you migh also enjoy an afternoon at the Crissy Field. This used to be an Army airfield but is now a recreational area with a nice view. You can easily walk there from the Golden Gate Bridge.
Also supposed to be nice: the Mission District – well known for its art and music scene and boasts a number of restaurants and street food vendors.
Alcatraz. If you are seriously interested in visiting this former prison island, book your tickets well ahead of time because they are known to sell out quick. The entry to Alcatraz itself is free, but to get there you have to book a ferry and it is almost impossible to get same or next day tickets.
If you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to visit the Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the US.
San Francisco, like many large cities in the US, has a fairly big China Town. You can find a good and comparably cheap meal in the many restaurants here.
If you can spare a day, you could take a trip to the Muir Woods. I heard this protected recreational are is very beautiful. The redwoods that grow there may not be the biggest in the world, but they are still massive and impressive. Muir Woods is about 12 miles north of San Francisco, so make sure you rent a car or you can book a day tour.
When walking through the streets of San Francisco, don’t be surprised if you catch the scent of marijuana. Californians recently voted for a legalization of this drug, but I have a feeling the scent was prevalent in the streets of San Francisco even before then. It’s one of those things you will come to associate with this wonderful city.