For any Aussie who is traveling to the United States, San Francisco should always be on your must-visit list!
For starters, there is Fisherman’s Wharf (pictured above). With a view of the infamous Alcatraz Island across the way, and the refreshing sea breeze, some people choose to forego staying at a hotel in the city altogether, and stay by the Wharf, instead.
There are plenty of places to stay here, ranging from the 3 star Holiday Inn Express, to Boutique hotels like the Argonaut or even a 5 star hotel like the Fairmont Heritage Place.
Fisherman’s Wharf is aptly named due to the fact that it has been the main hub for fishing and crab fishing since its settlement, during the Gold Rush era. Since its development in to a bona fide tourist destination, it has also served as a seafood lover’s paradise, serving up the day’s catches in local restaurants and eateries, including the Dungeness crab, known for its sweet and tender flesh.
Pier 39 and Alcatraz
Further down the wharf, you will find Pier 39, a shopping centre built on the pier. This area is ideal for families with children, not only for the family-oriented entertainment, but there is also a great view of the Sea Lions , out on the docks (pictured above).
Of course, no trip to San Francisco would be complete without a visit to Alcatraz. Note that due to year-round moderate temperatures, tours to “the Rock” often sell out months ahead of time, even during traditional non-peak periods. For this reason, it is imperative to book your tour in advance, to avoid disappointment.
I would also suggest a cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge, to admire the beauty of what was once the world’s largest suspension bridge. In fact, if you have time, why not rent a car for the day and drive across the bridge to Sausalito, a quaint little coastal town offering great boutique shopping and of course some great seaside restaurants and fine dining spots.
Sausilito, Muir Woods and San Francisco Downtown
If you continue driving for another 15 kilometers, you will come to the Muir Woods National Monument, the closest place to San Francisco where you can see Redwood trees, towering as high as 80 metres! There are various hiking trails, between 30 minutes to 2 hours in duration, and of course a snack bar and a gift shop, near the entrance.
Lastly, there is plenty to see and do in the city of San Francisco. From visiting the Haight-Ashbury district, known for its hippie subculture, to taking a ride on their historic cable cars around the city, up or down one of its many infamous hills. Stop by the iconic Boudin Sourdough Bakery, which boasts the use of a starter yeast that originated in the 19th century.
Did I mention that there is also plenty of shopping, especially in the centre of downtown, at Union Square. For those who are looking to stay somewhere central, a place like the family owned and operated Handlery Hotel would be recommended, as they pride themselves on providing a great San Francisco experience to Australian travelers.