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Aside from a 6-hour layover in San Francisco, David and I had never been, so we jumped on the opportunity to spend one day in San Francisco while passing through on a sailboat.
It was incredibly easy to get around in SF. Tickets to the trolley and bus are interchangeable and although it says they are good for 90 minutes, all of ours were marked to expire almost five hours from when we bought them. There’s the trolleys, bus, cable cars, subways, and ferries, so there are lots of choices.
We started (of course) by taking the ferry over to the SF Ferry Terminal. From there, we grabbed the trolley service down the Embarcado to Lombard, where we got up and walked to the Coit Tower. Even though the day hadn’t been as clear as the previous few days, we did get a great view.
From Coit we walked down to Pier 39, for the sole reason of checking out the sea lions. Definitely the highlight of my day, the sea lions are loud with their barking, ungainly on land, graceful in the water, and just an altogether fabulous show. It was not quite the peak season for sea lions (which is August) but there were hundreds. I suppose it’s probably not peak tourist season either, so we were able to get a pretty good view to watch them for a while.
From Pier 39 we walked to the start of the Cable Car and took the car up to Chinatown, where we popped into the oldest dim sum restaurant in the US – Hang An, founded in 1920. Dim sum is not a food you can find all that easily in the islands, so it’s an excellent stop for us. We ordered five dishes and they were all great, but the pork meatballs were outstanding.
Next, we hopped a Muni bus to the Castro district, the heart of gay pride in San Francisco. We did a short, self-guided walking tour, seeing the landmarks and grabbing a cookie at Hot Cookie (known for their phallic-shaped cookies, but they only came in one flavor), a chai tea at Philz Coffee House (unicorn themed) and a drink at Twin Peaks.
From Castro we ran an errand (Best Buy – I broke my Nikon DSLR camera battery charger). Then it was dinner time, and we took the bus to the Tenderloin district and walked for a few blocks to find Pawkar Pakistani Restaurant for some Tikka Masala (and the best naan I think I’ve ever had). Finally, back to the waterfront to enjoy the sun setting over San Francisco and the bridges starting to light up.
Planning for just one day in San Francisco was really challenging. I found this article by Time particularly helpful. There are a few things we would have liked to do that we missed:
- Alcatraz tours (sold out)
- Legion of Honor Art Museum with a Monet exhibit (closed on Mondays)
- Conservatory of Flowers at Golden Gate Park