After driving 4,625 miles through 12 states, we reached our final destination on our west-bound odyssey from New York — the beautiful city by the Bay — San Francisco! This is our favorite city in the world. If we ever tire of our nomadic lifestyle, San Francisco would certainly feature in the top three places where we would want to settle permanently. Why? What’s not to love? These are some of the top reasons we love this City. They are a mixture of things that satisfy our creative souls and our love of food!
SWAN OYSTER DEPOT, SAN FRANCISCO
If you love seafood then this icon is the place to go. Tubs of large scarlet prawns, mountains of Dungeness crab, tiny pink bay shrimp, octopus, and sea urchins, their sharp spines still twitching, fill the window of this tiny 20-stool diner-style room. But what we really come here for are the oysters, shucked in front of us at the counter, placed on a mound of shaved ice. Dunk them in pink mignonette or add a dash of lemon juice! It won’t take you long to order a second dozen!
THE SAN FRANCISCO FARMERS MARKET
There is no place quite like the San Francisco Farmers Market on a sunny Saturday morning. Sitting on a pier at the edge of the water behind the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero, it is a kaleidoscope of colors — piles of vegetables, mountains of fruit, cartons of eggs, jars of honey, yogurt in tiny pink ceramic jars, freshly baked artisanal bread, buckets of sunflowers. Sample the different wares or buy yourself breakfast — a porchetta sandwich with bits of crackling skin hidden inside the bread! Bring a bag for your purchases. We guarantee that you will not be able to resist doing some shopping . . .
PHOTOGRAPH THE CITY AT NIGHT FROM COIT TOWER
From the top of Telegraph Hill, at the base of Coit Tower, there is a superb vista from which to photograph the City — night or day. Walk up the 378 steps of the Greenwich Street stairs to the south side of the tower on a moonlit night, and you will be rewarded with a sweeping view from Oakland and the Bay Bridge across the city. To the north don’t miss the statue of Christopher Columbus gazing towards the Golden Gate Bridge.
THE MURALS OF THE MISSION DISTRICT
At last count over 600 murals decorate the walls and garages of the Mission District. These ever-changing canvases of life reflect social and political messages that are important to the artists. While there seemingly are murals everywhere, the “must-see” areas are Balmy Alley and Clarion Alley. Stop by the Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center to join a guided walk.
RIDE THE CABLE CARS
Yes, it is a “touristy” thing to do. But it sure is a heap of fun to jump on a cable car near Fisherman’s Wharf and hang on tight as it strains its way up San Francisco’s legendary hills and tears down the other side to the terminus. Do it just to remember the thrill of being a kid again. Then watch as they hand turn the cars to head back the other way.
Stroll through the Pacific Heights neighborhood to admire some of the 14,000 Victorian gingerbread houses that survive in San Francisco today. As you wander up hill and down, stop to soak up the atmosphere of these pastel-painted edifices, many of which date from before the 1906 earthquake and the fires that followed.
HAVE TEA IN THE JAPANESE TEA GARDEN IN GOLDEN GATE PARK
Nestled next to the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park is the oldest public Japanese garden in the US with ponds of koi fish, sculptures, a temple and bowed bridge. The sound of running water provides a soothing, peaceful atmosphere. When you have finished walking around the garden, stop for some traditional Japanese tea and snacks.
VISIT THE CALIFORNIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
Also located inside Golden Gate Park is the Academy of Sciences, which seems to have something unique tucked away in every corner, including the roof — a living area of undulating grasses and nature at work. Don’t miss the aquarium and the planetarium where the show till make you feel as though you are flying through space.
PHOTOGRAPH THE CITY FROM THE WATER
If you don’t have a friend with a sailboat, then jump on one of the evening trips out of the Embarcadero that will give you spectacular shots of the sun setting behind Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and possible, the moon rising over the Oakland Bay Bridge. With the Americas Cup race taking place here in 2013, you might be lucky enough to watch the yachts go through their paces as they practice for the big race.
IF YOU GO
Swan Oyster Depot: 1517 Polk Street, San Francisco (between Sacramento and California Streets; Tel 415-673-2757. Open from 0800 to 1600; cash only; no reservations. Get there as early as possible to avoid a long line.
The San Francisco Farmers Market: Operates on Saturday mornings from 0800 to 1300 behind the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero.
Coit Tower: at 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd in San Francisco (Tel 415-362-0808). It is open daily from 1000 to 1730 from March to September, 0900 to 1630 from October to February.
Mission District: Take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to the 24th Street stop and walk through the neighborhood. The Pracita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center is located at 2981 24th Street; Tel 415-285-2287)
Cable Cars: They run on three lines: The Powell-Hyde Line (line 60), Powell-Mason (line 59) and California Street (Line 61).
Victorian Houses: Take a historical walking tour that takes place every day starting at Union Square . Call for information and reservations ( Tel 415-252-9485.)
Japanese Tea Garden: located inside Golden Gate Park (75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive; Tel 415-666-3232.
The California Academy of Sciences: located across from the De Young Museum at 55 Music Concourse Drive; Tel 415-379-8000.
Several companies have evening sailings around the Bay. Check the latest schedules at www.wheretraveler.com