What do you think of when someone says San Francisco? For me it was cable cars, Golden Gate Bridge, the hippy movement and hills. And yes SF has all of that!
After several earthquakes and fires the city has always bounced back. Due to these disasters San Francisco has taken pride in its history and has made sure its precious buildings and architectural achievements are protected. The city has made certain cautionary procedures to make sure that should another earthquake occur that buildings will remain standing.
San Francisco is also filled with so much culture from all over the world including China, Mexico, Japan and Italy. With the tech-boom San Francisco is growing continuously and becoming more and more expensive and, sadly, losing it’s Summer of Love inspiration so get here before Twitter completely takes over!
About the Tenderloin
Due to legal issues in San Francisco, it is difficult to rent a place here. Our first apartment, like LA, was therefore cancelled as a result. I sent Paul some apartments I liked the look of explaining I hadn’t researched the areas. I then got a response saying Paul had booked Jen’s apartment (which was the prettiest out of the ones I sent). We then made a rookie mistake by researching the area after booking it…
The apartment itself if located on O’Farrell Street in The Tenderloin District. This area is famously known as being a pretty gritty area. It’s famous for its drug dealers, homeless inhabitants and prostitution. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Once the initial shock and worry was out of the way we decided to do some proper research. It turns out The Tenderloin is cleaning up nicely and during daylight hours is perfectly safe.
When we arrived to the apartment, in all honesty I was pleasantly surprised. The street was almost empty. During the night you have a couple of homeless ladies and gents having a scrap but not much else. Like any city, San Francisco has it’s “shadier” areas and The Tenderloin is one that is improving. It’s an eclectic district full of cultures and we had no trouble staying in this area. If you’re worried, Uber everywhere 😀
The apartment is two blocks away from Union Square and some of the most expensive hotels in San Francisco (so the area isn’t so bad is it?!). It’s a minimalist apartment complete with TV (Netflix and Hulu included), Wifi, a kitchen with oven and plenty of storage space.
This is one of my favourite apartments that we’ve stayed in. It’s bright, spacious and well decorated. Jen left a guide on the area as well as the apartment making everything nice and easy 🙂 If you’re going to San Francisco and want to be just yards away from Union Square and great shopping then this apartment is for you 🙂
1950s diners are always my go to for eating establishments. Especially when they serve coffee and pancakes for breakfast. And if there is also burgers, fries and onion rings on the menu then I’m all for it.
There are chains all over San Francisco of this retro diner and it’s great if you fancy a big brekkie or a hot dog then pop into your closest Lori’s.
You don’t go to Chipotle when you’re in San Francisco. There are plenty of Mexican restaurants to choose from but this one has the most delicious burritos and guacamole! Their huge burritos are packed full. Oh and they deliver if you fancy ordering in!
North Beach is the Italian district where it is said, a bad restaurant doesn’t exist because it wouldn’t last a week. We visited Cafe DeLucci at lunch time for a pizza and it was amazing. May I recommend a Mediterranean? 😀
On our last full day we decided to look elsewhere for a good veggie burger (other than Lori’s Diner). After some research we discovered that a popular joint is Roam Artisan Burgers.
You can customise your burgers to your liking meaning you can choose the meat (or not in our case!) and the burger type e.g. Classic (Butter Lettuce, Tomato, Onions, House-Made Pickles, House Sauce). I had a BBQ and Paul had the French and Fries burger. You do have to order the fries along with it as the burgers don’t come with it.
It’s probably tourist law to go to The Golden Gate Bridge which is the second biggest bridge in San Francisco but is the most famous. It’s beautiful and has gorgeous views of the city.
Pier 39 is the second most popular tourist attraction in California after Disneyland. It’s full of sea food lovers, sea lion admirers (although they do tend to just lay there) and those who want to enjoy some ice cream whilst looking over at Alcatraz.
Go in the arcades, ride the Merry-Go-Round or simply window shop, it’s a lovely place to wander and grab a meal.
As soon as we discovered the Japanese Tea Garden I HAD to visit it. I’ve never had Japan on my list of places to go but it was wonderful walking around the beautiful gardens and having some Iced Green Tea and traditional Japanese cookies (and yes, Fortune Cookies are originally from Japan!)
For a bit of fun and a basic insight to some of San Francisco’s history the San Francisco Dungeons is a great experience for the whole family (unless they are 4 year olds!).
You’ll laugh, scream and… scream again so this is not for the faint hearted but it is a lot of fun!
If you get a ticket you can also get a discount for Madame Tussaud’s and some other attractions 🙂
The Palace of Fine Art Theatre is one of only a few surviving structures from the Exposition that is still situated in its original location. This is apparently the inspiration behind R2-D2 which would make sense seeing as George Lucas built his studio in San Francisco and uses the city for inspiration.
This is a beautiful spot and was somewhere I needed to visit whilst here. I adore the statues, archways and detail put into this beautiful theatre.
As a huge fan of Mr. Walter Disney’s work there was no better homage than to visit the family museum. Here Paul and I learnt about Walt’s early beginnings as a cartoon artist who later became the creator of dreams, making thousands of children and adults alike smile, even until this day. Hearing the words of Disney himself talk about his work, his triumphs, his downfalls and his imagination. This is a beautiful tribute to a man who created the greatest movies of all time and who will forever remain in the hearts of those who witness any Disney movie made.
TIPS & INFO
- If you choose to stay in the Tenderloin remember it’s fine in the day time but use Uber in the evening as (like most cities) it can get a bit rowdy.
- Houses with 4 or more colours are called Painted Ladies and they are gorgeous.
- If you plan to go to the infamous Tony’s in North Beach be prepared to wait in line as it is promoted as the best pizza in San Francisco. Although you can pretty much anywhere so you don’t need to be picky!
- If you decide to go to Alcatraz book months in advance. That’s the mistake we made. If you can’t get tickets you can try on the day but be aware of black market sellers.
- Want sea food? Don’t go to a chain restaurant – Fisherman’s Wharf is the place to go.
- From what we heard Sausalito isn’t a particularly interesting place to go even if it’s promoted everywhere so don’t waste too much time or money going there.
- You can get a free tour of the City Hall (pictured below) on weekdays (10am, 12 noon, 2pm)
- Every Tuesday at 12pm there is a test for the air raid siren so don’t panic unless it tells you to!
- If you want to get to know a bit about the history of San Francisco take a Hop On Hop Off Bus (be aware the Big Bus tours have HUGE queues). If you get the 48 hour ticket you will get to explore further out of the city.