On my most recent visit to SF, my wonderful friend Liz took me to so many cool places cause this is her home! It was a whirlwind of a visit, but we hit a BUNCH of places. That’s the way to travel, yeah? All adventure, little sleep 🙂
1. Twin Peaks
Climb (or drive) up to the highest point of the city to soak in the incredible views:
2. Fort Point
I think the pics below make it pretty obvious why we made a stop at Fort Point.
Buuut besides having the infamous Golden Gate Bridge in the background, Fort Point is also a good place to explore because it was originally built for the protection of San Francisco Bay during the Civil War (!) AND was reused for WWII. As a result, we saw quite a few bunkers (? probably the wrong military term) around:
Since it was New Year’s Day, practically everything in Japantown was closed. 🙁 However, one store was still open – Daiso! Now this store changed my life. It is a Japanese dollar store containing everything that I could possibly want or need. Socks, earmuffs, hat? Check. Cute stationery? Got em. Japanese snacks? Yes! I immediately looked up whether we have one in Dallas and hallelujah yes we do.
4. Jefferson Square Park
I really, really wanted to catch a sunset in California. While it may not be over the ocean, this dog park on a hill will do 😉
5. Union Square
This is the place to go for some retail therapy. But once again, since I came on New Year’s Day, many stores closed early. #fail
6. de Young Museum
This was another treasure that Liz took me to. You can climb up to the top of this art museum for another nice view of SF. Best of all, this museum is free, so we toured the art exhibitions as well.
Outside is a cute, little sculpture garden.*
And all of this is inside Golden Gate Park, a place that I’d like to further explore should (or when) I return next time. It has plenty of gardens and nooks that I want to explore, Japanese Tea Garden, for example.
Woohoo, hippie nation! I found how the neighborhood came to be so hippie-centric very interesting when reading up on it later: “The earlier bohemians of the beat movement had congregated around San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood from the late 1950s. Many who could not find accommodation there turned to the quaint, relatively cheap and underpopulated Haight-Ashbury.” (Source) And ever since then, modern American counterculture have been synonymous with San Francisco and the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.
The street was filled with quirky little shops, and especially good for vintage shopping. There was one steampunk store that was quite interesting…I wish I got a picture of the elaborate costumes in there!
Since we were on such a time limit (as in you have a pay a fortune to park on the street), we completely forgot about the Painted Ladies! So I still haven’t seen them even though I’ve been to SF three times now. Whelp, there’s always next time…
8. Palace of Fine Arts
Come here to watch a show!
And not just any show – Potted Potter:
The premise of the play is that these 2 guys will tell the story of all 7 Harry Potter books in 90 minutes. And it actually helped our non-Harry-Potter-fan friend understand it better. Haha, what educational value!
9. Coit Tower
Look, I also didn’t really know what was the big deal with Coit Tower either. So the Internet also told me:
“The simple fluted tower is named for Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a wealthy eccentric and patron of the city’s firefighters. Coit died in 1929, leaving a substantial bequest ‘for the purpose of adding to the beauty of the city I have always loved.’The funds were used to build both the tower and a monument to Coit’s beloved volunteer firefighters, in nearby Washington Square.” (Source)
Well, visitors have to dish out some money if they want to go to the very top of the tower for city views. I was good, though, having already seen the city from Twin Peaks and the de Young Museum (see #1 and #6 above).
10. Hayes Valley
Now the shops in this neighborhood were definitely different from the ones in Haight-Ashbury! They’re more high-end and hipster vs. eccentric and hippie. Fun to look at, but impossible to own, ha.
One of the focal points of the neighborhood is this Hayes Valley Temple. This temple has been in place since June 2015, but since 2005, David Best has been commissioned to collaborate with the San Francisco’s Hayes Valley community to create an interactive “Temple.” The one that’s currently in place was designed, engineered and weatherproofed for the temple to withstand one year. (Source)
I love this quote from the artist about the work:
“When we finish the temple and turn it over to the community, it is an empty building. They bring their mothers, they bring their brothers, they bring their best friends, their weddings and their celebrations to it. And then it becomes something. It has no life until the community brings that life to it.”
And so, my name is on here somewhere…can you find it?
Where are your favorite places to go in San Francisco? How about any cool, new finds?
Thanks for reading! And thanks, Liz, for being an awesome local tour guide and taking me to all these wonderful places!