Heading to San Francisco for the Superbowl? I have included a few of my favorite spots from my trips to San Francisco grouped by area. Let's start with transportation options!
The SFO airport is about 30 mins from the main part of downtown San Franciso. As you will learn or may already know, there are tons of options in San Francisco. You can take a shuttle van, Uber, BART train or rent a car. I have done all except rent a car as the hotels in Union Square area charge $50+ USD a day for parking. Bart was fairly easy and costed $7.65 one way from the airport to Union Square. Once you are into the city you can take uber around or buy a Visitor Passport which provides unlimited access to Muni, Muni Metro, historic streetcars, and cable cars. They have 1-3 day passes. It’s all in what you plan to do. I have seen where they don’t even check for a pass and sometimes they do. It’s a gamble. On the other hand 1 cable car ride cost 7.00 one trip. You can also take a ferry or chartered cruises around.
A main area in downtown San Francisco that has a lot of shopping, art, hotels and restaurants. You can also take a picture with a cable car or catch a cable car, but this tends to be the most crowded stop. This is a good area to stay in if you can find availability at a good rate. My recommended hotels are Hilton Union Square and San Francisco Marriott Marquis (review).
Areas around Union Square to explore
You can’t come to San Francisco and not ride a Cable Car. I had the pleasure of actually hopping on one with the help of a conductor.
Nob Hill-Top of Mark is a bar and lounge located at the top of Mark Hopkins hotel, pricey but provides live jazz and a panoramic view of the city.
Union Square Park
The View Lounge SF-At the top of the San Francisco Marriott Marquis is the view lounge which provides a cosmopolitan spot for happy hour or date night. Catch a view of all of San Francisco. Get there early on a weekend night for a seat. The pictures turn out best during the day or right as the sun starts to set.
The Ferry Building
After you leave Union Square you catch the F Streetcar to the Ferry Building. The Ferry Building has a few local market shops, and restaurants. Of course you can catch the ferry to Sausalito, Oakland and other locations. I love Cow Girl Creamery in the Ferry Building. You can sample cheese from all over and purchase.
A couple of stops down from the Ferry Building you can take a tour of Alcatraz. There a couple of options, A ferry ride around the outside of Alcatraz with an audio tour and view of the Golden Gate Bridge, An Angel Island and Alcatraz tour or Alcatraz Island full tour. It is best to book your tickets ahead of time, they sell out quick. I recommend the ferry ride around the bride and Alcatraz if you're pressed for time.
Pier 39/Fisherman’s Wharf
Further down is Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf which provides a lot of souvenir options, restaurants and entertainment from local artists. I enjoyed dinner at the Crab House. Expect a long wait. Just don't go to the pizza place across the way.
Coit Tower/Telegraph Hill
Once at the base of Coit Tower you will have a view of the all of San Francisco. You can also go to the top of the tower for a fee. This is a great hike up steps or you can take the bus from Fisherman’s Wharf up to the top. This is what I did :D
Golden Gate Bridge
One of the most photographed bridges in the World. There are several options to access the bridge. Public Transportation, Uber or a tour bus (hop on hop off) is the best as parking is very limited. My favorite is biking to the bridge. Check out my post on options for biking the bridge of free to under $40. Biking is fun but expect challenging hills and about 4-5 hours out of you day. Only opt for this route if you have time and can deal with the pain after :/ Some also take small gps guided tour cars up to the bridge.
Areas around the Bridge to Explore
Golden State Park
Palace of Fine Arts
Land’s End/Ocean Beach
San Francisco doesn’t have many traditional beaches like you would picture a California beach. Sunny and laying out. It’s always cold in San Francisco. In this area when you enter you go to the right to hike the California trails to Land’s End or explore Sutro Baths or to the Left is Ocean Beach. It’s about a 20-30 minute ride from Union Square. I opted for the Geary Rapid Bus.
Sausalito is beautiful. I ventured to Sausalito after riding across the Golden Gate bridge this is where you end and take a ferry back to the city. You can skip the bike ride and take a ferry from San Francisco. Sausalito is filled with cute restaurants, shops, art and I loved the houses. I enjoyed the Scomas restaurant on a boat.
There are a ton of day tours from San Francisco to Napa Valley. Check out my review of the tour company I used that included Robert Mondavi Winery.
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What are your favorite spots in San Francisco?