San Francisco is a city I will always have a love/hate relationship with. I love the hilly beauty of the city, yet I hate the cold misty fog that always seems to set in. I love the brilliant marvel of the Golden Gate Bridge, yet I hate driving around the cities infamous hills and windy roads. I love the vibrant and bustling atmosphere of Fisherman’s Wharf, yet I hate how high strung the city can feel sometimes. Nevertheless, despite the love/hate vibe, San Francisco is truly an amazing, bustling and diverse city that everyone should visit at least once in their life. Whether you have a layover, or you’re just passing through here are my recommendations on how you can leave your heart and mark in San Francisco if you’re short on time.
1) Check Out the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is the pinnacle poster child of San Francisco and for good reason – it’s absolutely photogenic. The Golden Gate Bridge has art deco elements and spans beautifully between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Whether you drive across it, walk it, or view it from across the bay it’s truly a modern marvel. One of my favorite scenic spots to view the bridge is Land’s End park. Land’s End park is usually uncrowded and there are several scenic spots to check out the bridge and capture that perfect Instagram-worthy shot.
Pier 39 is located at the edge of the Fisherman’s Wharf district and is a bustling pier with shops, arcades, and street performances. Pier 39 has an awesome street carnival vibe, and it’s great for a stroll. Strolling around the pier you also get great views of Angel Island, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and even some sea lions.
3) Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf is a bustling tourist attraction with plenty of sea food restaurants and museums. Fisherman’s Wharf is a great place to just walk around, admire the marina, and check out some of the unique museums and sights in the area. There are plenty of piers to explore, with Pier 39 being the main one. One museum that I happened to stumble upon was the Musee Mecanique – which is an interactive museum of 20th-century penny arcade games and artifacts. It’s free to enter, but get your coins ready and get ready to play some air hockey and other old favorites.
4) Have a bite in China Town
I have been to a few Chinatown’s in my life (including the ones in New York and London), but San Francisco’s Chinatown feels like the real deal to me. San Francisco’s Chinatown reminds me of Hong Kong and many of the other cities I’ve ventured in while I lived in China. In fact, it was this desire for Chinese food that lured me and my adventure partner to San Francisco’s Chinatown. My adventure partner and I ate like royalty that night as we gorged on steamed pork dumplings, noodles, and coffee braised pork.