After two breathtakingly beautiful days of natural parks, I was ready for the bustling city! Luckily for me I enjoy and appreciate both environments – I like the tranquility and wonder of nature but I also really enjoy the sounds and energy of a big city. There was a lot of concern from people (both in SF and some readers) about the weather but on the ferry ride over the entire city was in full view!
We drove from Livermore to Oakland to catch the first ferry over to San Francisco. The first part of the trip floated us by a lot of industrial yards where shipments were being unloaded (I’m assuming imported from the mass production worlds of Japan, China and Taiwan). Some of the architecture and machinery even inspired “characters” (is that what we’d call them?) from a famous blockbuster!
And then…….San Francisco!
From the ferry
The city really is incredibly beautiful with the two bridges in full view. It was windy and very chilly on the boat but the sun felt great on my face and I was warm in several layers.
Once we stepped off the boat from Oakland, we headed to get tickets for another ferry boat ride – this one around the bay. We had about 3o minutes before sailing so strolled along the piers and Fisherman’s Wharf.
Boats on the Bay
It was so refreshing to be near the water and our temperatures were great (mid 60s I’d guess).
The bay ferry took us right along the shore of the city, heading straight for the Golden Gate Bridge (the number one attraction on my list).
We actually sailed right under it and turned around to head back towards the docks. I know you know this but it is SO BIG!
Me and Koko
On our way back from the bridge, we passed some sailboats being tossed in the wind and waves.
The next big tourist site to see was Alcatraz. The boat didn’t stop to let any of us off so I wasn’t able to tour the island (would have been a pretty incredible experience I think) but it was pretty eerie from the boat anyway.
After the tour, we made a pit stop for lunch (there’s an entire California food post coming up so I’ll save those details) and then onward to Ghirardelli Square (thanks for the recommendation Chad!)
It’s hard to tell but behind us at the top of the photo is the word “Ghirardelli” in big white letters with lights around the outside. Inside that building is where the finest dark chocolate in the U.S. is made (sorry Hershey’s and Dove).
The girls at the fountain.
We stopped to take in the activity of the square (it smelled like waffle cones and chocolate!) and throw coins in the fountain. I kissed mine and made a wish. It hasn’t come true. Yet.
And of course we went inside – but that’s a story for another day.
After our chocolate stop we headed for my favorite activity in the city – walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. If you can’t tell already, I’m a big believer in active vacations (hiking, walking the city, climbing to the tops of things) and so walking across the city’s landmark was a no-brainer.
Up close with the cables
Tiny boats below
We did it!
Natural wonders like the waterfalls at Yosemite are pretty mesmerizing to me but then again so are man-made structures like this one. I mean, at some point before my lifetime, this bridge did not exist. And now it does. And it’s massive. So much concrete and steel and cable and nuts and bolts. Absolutely incredible.
The final thing that I really wanted to do on my tourist list was ride a cable car and at this point we were running low on time. Koko and I booked it to a stop and managed to catch one that was heading to a restaurant we wanted to check out for dinner. We almost brushed it off but I’m so glad we went!
San Francisco Cable Car
We found prime riding spots at the front of the car and hanging on the edge. There were some tight squeezes, especially when other cable cars came zooming by from the opposite direction! And man going up those hills reminded us of chugging up a roller coaster. We didn’t reach quite the high speeds of coaster on the downhill but falling off or crashing would have been zero fun. Definitely worth doing if you’re ever in the city.
And that was the end of an exhausting day 3. Phew!
Have you ever been to San Francisco? What was your favorite thing?