How To: Experience San Francisco in 24 Hours


To celebrate our college graduation last year, Derek and I decided at the beginning of the school year to save up some money and road trip through California for two weeks.  Our first big-city stop was San Francisco!

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Neither of us had ever been to the city before so we were pretty pumped to get out of the car and explore.  As we had spent most of the day driving along Highway 101, the first iconic sight we saw was the Golden Gate Bridge.  Before we crossed we quickly exited and stumbled across the most popular place to take photos.  This stretch of road goes on for about a mile and a half and has spectacular views of the bridge.  I would recommend getting here before noon or after 6pm in order to have an easier time finding parking.  We got lucky and found a spot after only waiting about five minutes.

Also at this stop is an old 19th century battery factory that is pretty interesting to explore.  It’s right along the way towards the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge and is well worth the stop.

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We decided before we left that we were going to do everything on the fly; so, essentially, we had no plans at all.  It stressed me out at first but I think it was a good exercise as I like to be in control all the time.  After stopping to take in the view of the bridge, we started looking up hotels to stay for the night.  We found a great deal at a place and booked right away.

What we didn’t realize ( perhaps naively ) is that San Francisco’s streets are like little neighborhoods.  You could be walking down the street that has high end shops on it and you turn the corner and there are six homeless people sleeping on mattresses in the street.  We ended up in a sketchy part of town and needless to say we weren’t out after dark.  Since I learned the hard way, just make sure that you do your research before your stay!

We had a few hours left to spare so we walked West to Union Square.  This is the area that you can find all the shopping, both high end and average.  This was a great place to people watch!  We stumbled across an open-air bar that had unusual ( but very tasty! ) cocktails.

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ALSO.  If you are ever in the mood for the world’s greatest pho, head over to Pho 2000.  It’s the best little hole-in-the-wall place with the tastiest vietnamese soup I’ve ever had.

We were staying in the North East section of San Francisco and we definitely wanted to spend the morning exploring.  We decided to get up and out the door at 7AM to go on a run for a few hours.  For those of you who don’t know, San Fran is super hilly!!!

We ran from our hotel on the corner of Larkin and Eddy streets to the Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39.  As it was so early, nothing was really open, but the view that early is gorgeous.  The fog hadn’t rolled in yet and it was a perfectly clear and warm day.  We ran around a bit more and I noticed a super curvy street way up in the distance.  We ran ( up… really far up ) to it and found ourselves on Crooked Lombard Street.

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We stopped here for a bit and took in the beauty and impracticality of this little street.  We made a vow to come back shortly and drive down it on our way out of town.

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And we were off to Los Angeles!  It was the a jam-packed but relaxing day.  I loved San Francisco!

What are the parts of San Francisco that you have experienced?  What would you recommend for the next time we visit ( because let’s be real, that was way too short and we are itching to return ) ?

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