Whether you already have had the chance of visiting the City by the Bay or not, for sure you have heard about the sights San Francisco is famous for: Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz and the Cable Cars, just to name some. But believe it or not — they are not responsible for creating the intriguing charme of the city which amazes generations and generations of visitors. For me, San Francisco is a city unique for it’s colours, that differ from district to district. It is a perfect composition of red, blue and green. The best (and only) way to experience this phenomenon is by walking through the city by yourself. Hereby I’m sharing with you my own favorite walk through town — I call it the “Trail of Lights”. And don’t worry, it’s totally safe during daytime.
We start our little tour at the San Francisco Caltrain station in the South East and walk the 4th Street up to the corner of Howard St. There we turn right and enter the Yerba Buena Gardens, one of the city’s green spots. Suddenly the grey concrete and car noises disappear and you find yourself in a calm open area, where the (hopefully) blue sky reflects itself in the surrounding skyscrapers, while you are standing on a huge green meadow.
Leave the Gardens, cross the flurry Market St and turn into Stockton St near the Apple Store. Stockton St. will lead you to Union Square, where you can take a rest, grab something to eat and get a glimpse of the San Francisco all-day life.
Then back on Stockton St, pass the tunnel and head right into Bush St, until you stand in front of the world famous Dragon Gate, the entrance to Chinatown. Pass it, and you will find yourself in a world dominated by red Chinese paper lanterns, narrow streets and asian music. Inhale the smell of East Asia and continue walking Grant Ave, turn right at Jackson St and later left on Kearny St.
Just right of you there is a shimmering green house, which dominates all of its surroundings. It is called Columbus Tower (or Sentinel Building) and was bought by Francis Ford Coppola, the director and screenwriter of the movie The Godfather, in the early 70s. When you stand right in front of the building, you are going to see the lushing white Transamerica Pyramid in the background, what a picture!
San Francisco is a perfect composition of red, blue and green.
Now lets do some exercise and go on walking (climbing!) Kearny St up to Telegraph Hill. Ascend the stairs and pass through the cosy little park, from which you have a beautiful view above the whole city. This place is my favorite spot in San Francisco, go there and you will feel why. The mix of dark greens of the trees, the deep blue sea, the army of white roofs from the city, the blue sky and – of course – the shimmering red sent by the Golden Gate Bridge, which is still very far away though. If you decide to climb up the Coit Tower, you see the whole city, including Alcatraz. The few bucks are really worth it! Free to see are the colourful, historical paintings inside the Coit Tower. Don’t miss them!
After spending some relaxing time at Coit Tower, head down Telegraph Hill until you reach Fisherman’s Wharf. Personally, I think the best you can do at Fisherman’s Wharf is to get away, so rent a bike and ride towards the Golden Gate Bridge.You will cross the Fort Mason Great Meadow, ride along the Marina Boulevard until you make a stop at the Palace of Fine Arts. It is huge and beautiful, the brown beige colours of the gigantic columns are overwhelming. Usually a lot of people choose this place for shooting their wedding pictures, so be prepared to see a lot of brides in beautiful dresses!
The last spot of our little (ok, long!) tour is the Golden Gate Bridge. If you are a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, you can make an earlier stop at Fort Point, which is located right beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Here Scotty saved Madeleine from drowning. Nowadays a fence prevents people from jumping into the cold water, since there are no Scottys anymore!
After that, take a ride across the bridge. On the left, you see the shimmering eternity of the Pacific Ocean, on the right you see the San Francisco Bay, everything surrounded by flashing red steel.
Shopping Alert: From high end luxury boutiques to funky specialty stores, San Fran is for sure one of the best shopping cities you’ve ever been! The city offerings provide a great excuse to shop ’til you drop, this is a great travel experience:
- Union Street (Ambiance, Cocoa Bella, Lush, Carol Doda’s, etc)
- Union Square (Macy’s, Neimen Marcus, Tiffany’s, Nike, Ted Baker, Crocker Galleria, ALESSi, Shreve Co, Levi’s, etc)
- Fillmore Street (Scotch & Soda, De Novo, Gimme Shoes, Crossroads Trading Company, Kiehl’s, etc)
- Haight Street (Amoeba Music, Verd’s Funk, Stuf Bang-on, La Rosa, etc)
- Westfield Centre – Market Street (Watch Station, Michael Kors, Aritzia, L’Occitane, Burke Williams Day Spa, etc)
- Sacramento Street, Castro Street, North Beach, Chestnut Street, Hayes Valley, Mission Street, Polk Street
- Premium Outlets: Gilroy, Livermore, Napa, Petaluma, Vacaville