For the final leg of our California vacation, we flew from Los Angeles to San Francisco. In San Francisco is where we spent the remaining three days of our trip. We arrived into San Francisco around 3:30 in the afternoon, and then had to take a 45 minute train ride into the city. This put us getting to the hotel around 4:30. Here are a few shots of our walk from the train station to the hotel.
We started by checking into our hotel at the Hilton San Francisco Financial District. Let me warn you, if you are going to San Francisco, it is an expensive town! Our hotel had 27 floors! We were on the 9th. The room had a neat layout, with a desk overlooking the city.
I think this is the most elevator buttons I have ever seen in a hotel elevator!
After checking into the hotel, we walked about a mile down Columbus Street to Fisherman’s Wharf, where we had dinner at Boudin’s Sourdough. This place was recommended by our friend Sean in Los Angeles, and it was an excellent recommendation. The food was great and the view of Alcatraz and the harbor was amazing. They are known for their sourdough bread. You could get bowls of soup in sourdough, but I had to try the sourdough burger and it was great. Jennifer went with the fish and chips which were also great. Highly recommend!
Let me start with a warning for you if you are planning to go to San Francisco and visit Alcatraz. The National Park Service only allows 3,000 people on the island a day. There are about three touring companies that sell tickets to it, and they sell out months in advance. We checked in June to get tickets for our September trip, and they were already sold out. Don’t expect to arrive and get tickets. Now there are small operations along Fisherman’s Wharf that claim to have Alcatraz tickets, well check the dates, as they probably will not be for when you are there, or they just take you in a boat around the island, but do not stop.
Here is a view of Alcatraz, notice all the smog/fog.
San Francisco is famous for their cable car through town. Well we had it on our list to do; however, most lines to ride were upward of a two hour wait. So we passed on it. There is a picture of the lines below. There is also a picture of the turning stations. To turn a cable car around to head in the opposite direction, they would pull it on to one of these turning stations, and then two men would push the car around until it was facing the opposite direction.
After dinner, we walked to the other end of Fisherman’s Wharf to Ghirardelli Square. It was chocolate heaven. Now I am not a big fan of chocolate, but they had so many flavors it was easy to find enough to keep me happy!
They even had a Chocolate Elevator!
So many choices…..
…and then we found it, the Ghirardelli Sundae Bar! Our friend Sue recommended we try what was called the Cable Car Special (pictures below), all I can say is wow! There was so much stuff in it. For Disney folks, it is probably close to the kitchen sink at Beaches and Cream at the Yacht & Beach Club!
After our dessert it was getting dark and we had about a mile and a half walk, so we headed back to the hotel and called it a night.
On Saturday, we started our day in the Presidio area to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum. As a Walt Disney fan, this was what we were looking forward to in San Francisco. Since I took well over 500 pictures there, I will do a post just on the Walt Disney Family Museum in a few days. For now, here are a couple of pictures from there. We spent near three hours there that day.
From the Walt Disney Family Museum, we had our first views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
After the tour of the museum, we headed back toward Fisherman’s Wharf for some lunch. We chose an Italian restaurant named Cioppino’s, which again was really good. It had very large portions. I had spaghetti and meatballs and my wife had pizza.
After lunch we walked to the famous Pier 39. There are lots of shops and souvenirs here, but the best part of this pier is the Sea Lions! They were everywhere! It was neat to see them outside of Sea World, in their natural environment. Amongst all the piers that at at Fisherman’s Wharf, this was the only pier they hung out at.
We next visited the Embarcadero area on the eastern end of the waterfront before heading to Telegraph Hill. Telegraph Hill is the highest point in San Francisco, and is home to Coit Tower. Well let’s just say this was the W.O.D. for my crossfit people (Workout Of The Day!) There were more than 400 winding stairs to get to the top of Telegraph Hill. It was a very steep climb. Luckily we found some other runners as we were going up sucking wind as much as we were, so I didn’t feel so bad. Now once you got to the top, there was Coit Tower. To go up in it is another several hundred stairs, and you had to pay $8. I had enough climbing so we just admired it from the outside.
Now Coit Tower was built from money left behind by the death of Lillie Hitchcock Coit. She loved the the fire department and firemen and loved to chase fires. It is said that from Coit Tower you can see all of San Francisco in all directions. Here is more that was posted on Wikipedia about it’s history.
Lillie’s fortunes funded the monument four years following her death in 1929. She had a special relationship with the city’s firefighters. At the age of fifteen she witnessed the Knickerbocker Engine Co. No. 5 in response to a fire call up on Telegraph Hill when they were shorthanded, and threw her school books to the ground and pitched in to help, calling out to other bystanders to help get the engine up the hill to the fire, to get the first water onto the blaze. After that Lillie became the Engine Co. mascot and could barely be constrained by her parents from jumping into action at the sound of every fire bell. After this she was frequently riding with the Knickerbocker Engine Co. 5, especially so in street parades and celebrations in which the Engine Co. participated. Through her youth and adulthood Lillie was recognized as an honorary firefighter.
Here is a view of Alcatraz from Telegraph Hill at the base of Coit Tower.
There are over 44 named hills in San Francisco. One that we got stuck on was Russian Hill. Wow it was steep. Have a look at the pictures, which do not really do it justice.
After walking up and down to Telegraph Hill and Russian Hill, we headed for the famous Lombard Street, also known at “The Crooked Street”. It has eight switchbacks, and there was vehicular traffic on it the day we were there. It is neat to see in picture, but once you experience it in person, it really hits the WOW factor. However, on one of the tours we took, we found out that it was NOT the most crooked street in San Francisco. That title goes to Vincent Street, which has thirteen switchbacks, but it is in a bad part of town, so it doesn’t get as much notoriety as people do not visit that area.
After walking all these hills, we were a little tired and headed back to the hotel to rest. Later, we walked to Union Square for shopping & dinner. This is the main area for the signature shops and retail establishments for San Francisco. The area got its name because it was once used for rallies and support for the Union Army during the American Civil War. After dinner in the complex, we called it a night.
On Sunday, our final day is San Francisco, and our last day in California, we started out the day at an In & Out Burger joint. I had been told that while I was in California I had to partake of some In & Out, so I did. There wasn’t anything special to them, but it is only in California, so I had to take on the challenge.
Afterward, we boarded a Double Decker Tour Bus and took a 90 minute tour of the city. Many of the sites we had already seen, but we were able to gather some of the history behind the sites.
After the bus tour, it was time for lunch, which we ate at the Blue Mermaid. This was a great seafood restaurant.
After lunch we boarded another bus tour for a 90 minute tour of the Golden Gate Bridge & the town of Sausalito.
Once this tour was over, we headed back to the hotel, picked up our bags and headed to the train station that would take us to the airport.