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San Francisco – Best Travel Cities

Our time enjoying San Francisco travel has come to an end, and we have formed some positive opinions about this top travel destination.  San Francisco is a must visit for those looking to experience the best travel cities in the world.

San Francisco Travel

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco Bay - San Francisco Travel

San Francisco Travel

San Francisco has a lot to offer, which is why we consider it one of our best travel cities.  We had the benefit of getting a lot of information from our two, originally east coast, friends Samit and Greg who have lived in this city for many years.  Our information kit from San Francisco Travel also proved to be valuable, especially the CityPASS.  Here are a few neighborhoods we spent time walking during our first visit to San Francisco.

San Francisco Neighborhoods

San Francisco Travel

Painted Ladies - San Francisco Travel

Chinatown

Similar to many large cities in the USA, San Francisco has it’s own Chinatown.  But this isn’t just any Chinatown, it’s the largest and oldest in the USA.

San Francisco Travel

Chinatown - San Francisco Travel

Cow Hollow

We spent much of our time walking Union Street in Cow Hollow since our buddy Samit lives just up the hill in Pacific Heights. Cow Hollow rests between Russian Hill and The Presidio, and the Marina District and Pacific Heights. Trendy shopping, restaurants, bars and spas line both Union and Chestnut Street. As you walk along Union Street, at each intersection you have wonderful views of the San Francisco Bay. Victorian style homes surround the shopping areas.

San Francisco Travel

Cow Hollow - San Francisco Travel

Fisherman’s Wharf

A tourist hot bed, the Fisherman’s Wharf swarms with tour buses, trolley’s and ferries.  Here you can book any tour available in San Francisco.  Ferry tours, Alcatraz tours and open top bus tours all depart from the Fisherman’s Wharf.  Bars and restaurants line the piers, but I would advise escaping the national chains and trying local restaurants in the city for a more authentic experience.  Wherever I find a Ripley’s Believe it or not, I try to avoid.

San Francisco Travel

Fisherman's Wharf - San Francisco Travel

San Francisco Travel

Fisherman's Wharf - San Francisco Travel

Haight-Ashbury

Identified by the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets, Haight-Ashbury is famous for being considered the center of the 60′s hippie movement. Storefronts and wall graffiti bring back memories of rockers, tie dye and drugs. Many stores sell vintage clothes, but ironically across the street from a Goodwill store you will find boutique vintage clothes priced in the hundreds of dollars.

San Francisco Travel

Haight-Ashbury - San Francisco Travel

San Francisco Travel

Haight-Ashbury - San Francisco Travel

Today’s atmosphere in the neighborhood is a combination of tourists, local hippies and the homeless. As with any tourist destination, store chains have nudged their way into the neighborhood, but icons like Amoeba Music still exist.  It’s a fun place to spend the day window shopping, while enjoying a giant burrito from Zona Rosa.

San Francisco Travel

Haight-Ashbury - San Francisco Travel

The Marina District

We recommend The Marina District for the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge or San Francisco Fleet Week. Look across the bay for views of Alcatraz and Sausalito. Run in the waterfront parks under the Golden Gate Bridge or take a walk out on the jagged piers for a picnic. Many photo opportunities in this area.

San Francisco Travel

The Marina District - San Francisco Travel

San Francisco Travel

The Marina District - San Francisco Travel

North Beach

North Beach, most notably Little Italy, is hot spot for tourists with their many cafes providing outdoor seating.  Identifiable by the Italy colors painted on light poles, Little Italy isn’t culturally enriching like Chinatown, but it has some famous iconic buildings such as the Columbus Tower, also known as the Sentinel Building, which Francis Ford Coppola owns today.

San Francisco Travel

North Beach Little Italy Cafes - San Francisco Travel

From Columbus Avenue you are also provided great views of the Transamerica Pyramid, San Francisco’s tallest skyscraper.

San Francisco Travel

Transamerica Pyramid - San Francisco Travel

Union Square

Are you into high-end shopping?  Union Square is surrounded by the most glamorous designer storefronts in the world.  Accessible by bus, or San Francisco’s famous trolley cars, visitors will pack them both with filled shopping bags.  We didn’t do any shopping here, but as one of the most visited neighborhoods, we felt as though you should know about it.

San Francisco Travel

Union Square Shopping - San Francisco Travel

Getting Around San Francisco

These are just a few of the neighborhoods in San Francisco, but where we spent a lot of our time. Public transportation will get you to all the locations you want to visit, but it’s not quick and it’s rarely on time. Express bus routes to get across town are badly needed.

San Francisco Travel

Electric Streetcar - San Francisco Travel

Trolleys are very expensive to ride, typically a tourist experience and taxis are more expensive than those in NYC.  If you are traveling from Asia and searching for cheap flights to New York, just be sure to plan a stopover in San Francisco. If you don’t have much time, book a tour bus through the city.  Yes, New York City is still the best city in the USA, but San Francisco makes our list of best travel cities.

San Francisco Travel

San Francisco Bay - San Francisco Travel

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Alex Berger says:

A great look at a fantastic city. Thanks!

Sam Rothmiller says:

Howdy! I just would like to give an enormous thumbs up for the nice information you could have here on this post. I can be coming again to your blog for extra soon.

James Cook says:

I love SF it always feels so alive there! did you try an in n out burger yet?

Pete Heck says:

Love SanFran, and Amoeba Music!!!

Great composition in the first photograph, the perspective of the boat with the bridge in the background makes for an amazing pic. Well done!

Sherry Ott says:

You make it look like a fun place to visit…I should go there sometime! )

Jason says:

Lol, you should, I highly recommend it. I hope Meet Plan Go 2011 was a success. It was great getting to hang out in San Francisco, thanks for meeting up.

Momo says:

How much have you spent for this journey?

Jason says:

In San Francisco?

momo says:

Ya :)

Jason says:

We stayed with a friend, so I can’t really quote you on a hotel price and our flights from Miami were $300 round trip. My best advice is to price accommodation and flights using Kayak.com. The price of living in San Fran is equivalent to NYC, which means it’s on the high side. It really depends on where you are traveling from and how the US Dollar compares to your currency.

Daniel says:

SF is great. Salsalito too.
Great post.

Erik says:

I love San Francisco. I just spent 5 days there in September. It’s one of my favorite cities.

Jason says:

Yes, absolutely a cool city.

Stephanie says:

I LOVE San Francisco! I have only been there once for a long weekend, but I managed to hit most of the places in your post. I definitely plan to visit again and spend more time exploring.

Jason says:

I would visit again, there is a tremendous amount of things to do and see.

Jeremy says:

Those pics look great, what type of camera are you using?

Jason says:

We use everything from our cell phone camera, compact point and shoot to an entry level SLR. It’s more about the photographer than the camera, unless you are taking night pictures, then an SLR is best.

Glad you had a great time! San Francisco is a great city!! I’ve been there many times but being so close, take it for granted. I still haven’t done some of the things you have. It’s a fantastic city to visit and the perfect time of year to go so glad you had a great time. Please tell me you did Golden Gate Park though!!!

Jason says:

We visited the park. I was shocked to learn it was 20% larger than Central Park NYC.

Nice round up of some of SF’s highlights. There really is something for everyone in this city. I’m so lucky to live in the Bay Area, but still lots of places I haven’t explore yet. Looks like we had some nice weather for you!

Jason says:

Incredible weather. It seemed like the best weather of the year, which was also the case for us in London.

Ruth says:

After living 8 years in Los Angles, I haven’y been to San Francisco yet. So close and so far at the same time. Such a shame!! You photos make me want to go there right now.

Jason says:

You should go. It’s one of the most toured cities in America. I know what you mean about not visiting places that are near us. We do that all the time.

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