Golden Gate bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, cable cars and Lombard street are things you can’t miss in San Francisco. This was the last leg of our USA West Coast road trip so we returned the car and explored the city by foot and public transport.
The weather can be chilly and I remember spending a few days here on a family vacation as a kid and the bread bowl clam chowder we shared in Fisherman’s Wharf brought comfort in the cold winter. This time we went in Aug and it was still cold! I don’t think I could live here… Another drawdown are the steep hills, it seems we always have to walk downhill and then uphill again to get to our destination.
At the end of 2 weeks in USA, we were tired of the usual American food. Luckily, we found that SF had a healthy and organic approach to the food culture, a trend I find is more pertinent in a more affluent city. The emphasis on wholesome food and sustainable farming practices is something I hope to see more of back home.
Things to do
Shop at the Farmers Market at the Ferry Plaza
The farmers market is open three days a week—Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with Saturday having the biggest showing of suppliers. We enjoyed walking outdoors and wishing we had a real farmers market back home. We bought some truffles, dried porcini mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes… everything sealed to survive the journey back home. There are restaurants and shops in the Ferry Plaza and do not walk past Cowgirl Creamery without checking out their artisan selection of cheeses, and Hog Island Oyster for the oysters and grilled cheese sandwich (cheese from next door’s Cowgirl Creamery)
Walk along Fisherman’s Wharf
I had to return for the clam chowder! I remember it tasting so good as a child but 15 years later I find it laden with starch and not many clams! It’s messy but go for the steam crabs as well if you are adventurous. Walk further down to Pier 39 where you can see the sea lions lazing on the docks. This area is a bit touristy but was still fun to see.
City tour on Urban Safari
We never do city tours, preferring to explore a city on our own. The only reason we took this was because the tour included a trip to Alcatraz and that was they only way we could go as all tickets to the prison were sold out. It is more expensive than the other tours but we felt it was well worth the money. The 4 hour tour in an open air zebra stripped bus brought us to all the major sights like Twin Peaks and Golden Gate Park, places we might have spent a lot of time getting to. The tour guides were fun and shared a lot of local information about the city that was not in the guidebooks.
Take a tour of Alcatraz
Reserve your tickets well in advance online as they get sold out very fast. A boat takes you to The Rock, a prison that is famous for keeping in notorious criminals like Al Capone. You can explore the prison building and compound at your own pace with an audio guide that gives you a rundown of its history and tidbits of information. I had expectations that it might be creepy, but it felt very peaceful, almost serene.
Contemporary California cuisine that was heavily Japanese influenced. Tastes were very delicate on the palate and each dish was complex except one which was just an odd egg chawanmushi style.
373 Broadway San Francisco, CA 94133
3692 18th Street San Francisco, CA 94110
Caramel sea salt ice cream is to die for and they have a grocery store that sells quality produce which is well farmed
Where we stayed
The Mandarin Oriental SF occupies the top 11 floors of an office tower and has breathtaking views of the city. As always, service is impeccable and the concierge went out of their way to help us. The hotel is a 5 min walk to the Market Street and the Ferry Plaza.
222 Sansome Street