San Francisco for People with Imagination
San Francisco, California, USA
For the first twenty years of my life, I was convinced that I could never live anywhere but in Seattle, Washington (fresh seafood, trees, no fear of drought, coffee galore…heck, what else do you need?). But after spending a week in San Francisco this summer, I quickly changed my mind. I fell in love with its dignified Victorian architecture, livability, and posh, but relaxed culture. When you visit, you should definitely stop by the famous tourist spots: Fisherman’s Wharf (get chowder at Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory), Golden Gate Park (check out the giant playground), and Lombard Street (overrated in my opinion). But when you grow tired of having ice cream cones dropped on your shoes by cranky tourists, here are some interesting things to do:
Alcatraz Island Night Tour
The prison is creepy enough during the day (rumors say that it’s haunted by past prisoners) but it’s even more terrifying at night. You depart from the dock on Fisherman’s Wharf and enjoy a two-hour tour of the most famous prision in the U.S. while it is at it’s spookiest. Tips: book tickets at least a week in advance, eat dinner before you go, and bring a jacket.
Regardless of which city we are in, my family spends 2/3 of our vacations in Chinatown eating outrageously long meals and criticizing the fruit sold by vendors. As sick as I am of it, I can’t imagine spending a vacation without at least one good Chinese lunch. The wonton noodle houses are inexpensive, yummy, and unintimidating. While you are in the neighborhood, you might as well stop by the free Cable Car Museum.
Bike Across the Golden Gate Bridge
Biking is my absolute favorite way to see a city. Rent bikes from Bay City Bikes and have them map a route for you. Since the sites in San Francisco are located so closely together, it is easy to see many of them by bike. Whiz by other tourists on the Golden Gate Bridge as you enjoy the amazing view. This is a great idea for families.
The Vampire Tour of San Francisco
Mina Harker, local vampire, will educate you about how vampires shaped the history of San Francisco as you visit Grace Cathedral, the Nob Hill CafÃ©, Huntington Park, and The Pacific-Union Club. Meet Mina on the corner of California and Taylor Streets, just outside Huntington on Fridays and Saturday nights at 8:00. Dress warmly!
Victorian Home Walk
This easy two and half hour walk showcases the best Victorian neighborhoods in San Francisco and even allows you to see inside of one! You will see 200 restored homes, learn how to distinguish Queen Anne, Italianate, and Stick-Style Victorian architecture, walk past the gardens of Pacific Heights, and plot the entire time about how you will move to San Francisco and buy one of those houses. The tour meets everyday at 11 a.m. in the check-in lobby of the Westin St. Francis Hotel. $20 (no credit cards) is collected at the end of the tour. No reservation required.
San Jose Flea Market
While not exactly in San Francisco, (but so neat that I have to mention it) this 8-mile long flea market has everything including over 2000 vendors, 25 restaurants and countless snack carts, music, a carrousel, and an arcade. This is a fabulous fun for bargain hunters.
Drift from the main tourist attractions and let your imagination enjoy the city. I hope you love it as much as I do.