San Francisco is a colorful city. All it took was one visit for me to fall into a googly eyed love of the place. A large city cut into small neighborhoods means a different look and feel every few blocks. There are tons of good foods to eat, lots of good beers to drink, and so many sights to see. San Francisco is a city to be experienced, full of color and activity.
I live on the southern coast of California, so hopping up to San Francisco tends to be fairly affordable and worth the journey. At any given moment, I’m daydreaming about the city and trying to plan a quick weekend visit. I realize that there are tons of travel guides and websites that give you lots of ideas of what to do here, but I'm going to share my very favorite things with you...
Ride The Cable Cars - Buy a pass so you can get on and off, and then just ride them all around the city. My first time in town, I literally spent an entire day just hopping on and off and exploring things at every stop. From the curvy Lombard street, to Chinatown, to the city center... just explore every stop and you'll fill an entire day. Also, the ride on the cable car is the most fun public transportation experience I have ever had.
Visit The Cable Car Museum - If you find yourself enjoying the cable cars as much as I did, stop in at the museum (it is a stop along the way). You can see the inner workings of what make the cable cars run all over the city, and learn about their history. It's a very cool building, with a lot of activity going on down on the working floor.
Walk The Golden Gate Bridge - You can rent a bike, rent a car, take a tour bus... but this bridge is worth a stroll to enjoy the details. The Golden Gate Bridge deserve all the attention you can give it. Be sure to pay attention to the construction, the colors, the lines and shadows… as well as the view out across the bay (or of the big fog cloud that may be surrounding you).
Get Out Of The City - This entire city is best explored without a vehicle, so plan to burn some calories hiking the hills and streets. But, if you can get your hands on a car or find the right public transportation, head north over the Golden Gate and visit the forest wonderland of Muir Woods. It is an amazing retreat from the city just miles away, and the trees are something that you just have to see in person. There are easy trails that take you through tall groves of some huge trees. We’re always a fan of city exploring, but finding a peaceful forest so close by was a nice surprise.
Take In The View From Twin Peaks - If you're feeling energetic, you can walk up, but it can be a long and steep climb. There is somewhat easy parking at the top (sometimes crowded), with views that are stunning. On a cloudy/foggy day, it can feel like walking in the clouds. On a clear day, there are sweeping views of the city, and maybe even the big red bridge.
Enjoy The Views – The hilly streets provide some amazing views. At times, you can see the bay and the ocean, depending on where you stand. One cool view is at the top of Lombard’s curvy section – Alcatraz appears to be just at the end of the street. Be sure to look around - at the details nearby and out into the distance - this city is full of things to see.
Admire The Architecture – The architecture in this city may be one of the better known features. Houses are built on sharp angled streets, and they tend to be multi-level homes. The angles of the streets provide some interesting perspectives. And the paint is always a different color!
This city is a photographer’s dream. Color, lines, shadows, views – it has everything to offer. I rarely put my camera away when I'm exploring San Francisco, because I just never know what will pop around the corner. The list above is a shortlist of what to see in this city (I left out a few specific neighborhoods that need to be visited - Chinatown, Castro, the Mission…) - give it some time, wear good shoes, and I can promise you’ll find some fun things to photograph and see! I hope you can take your camera on a stroll through this city soon!
To see more photos from Andrea, visit her at wanderingalways.com or @wanderingalways.