I’m the type of person who enjoys celebrating all of the little things in life. I never had a lot of money growing up, so I enjoyed making cards and gifts for close friends for birthdays and other special occasions. When we got married in 2012, I knew that I wanted to celebrate the smaller moments, but also the big moments like our wedding anniversary. We got the idea from another married couple to take turns planning the anniversary trip. My husband is taking all of the odd years, and I’m taking the even years. This is year four, so it was my turn! We had some bonus credit card points, so we used them toward free airfare to San Francisco!
Lots of firsts here: first time in SF, first time using Uber, and first time staying at an Airbnb. This is a beautiful city with so many things to do, see, eat, and experience. Even though it was our first time, I have some helpful tips that you can use in the future!
ALCATRAZAlcatraz was really amazing. Remember to book your ticket at least two-three months in advance. Your ticket includes a boat ride to the island and an audio tour. Definitely do the audio tour! Make sure to check out the ticket website for additional information about where to meet, what to expect, etc. My last bit of advice is to get on the 8:45am early bird tour. That’s the first boat that leaves for the island. I personally don’t like crowded areas, and I knew that a place like Alcatraz wouldn’t be as enjoyable with a thousand other people there. We ended up staying almost three hours there, and loved every moment of it! We took the boat back, and then took an uber to Fisherman’s Wharf where we had some In-n-Out.
LOMBARD STREETWe walked to Lombard Street after eating some good In-n-Out. But we were not prepared for the steep hills or the dozens of tourists crowding Lombard street trying to take photos. We started at the bottom of the hill (east end). But I don’t think it really matters which end you start at. The stairway climb up the street was not that bad and it was cool seeing all of the cars trying to make the tight turns on the crooked street. From here, it was a short walk to Ghirardelli Square where we scored some free chocolate!
PALACE OF FINE ARTS
I think we took an uber to the Palace of Fine Arts because even though it wasn’t actually that far, those hills are no joke! The Palace of Fine Arts is so beautiful and I wish I could’ve stayed here longer. It’s nestled in a neighborhood–I’m so jealous of the residents!
We headed north to the Marina District to look for a bathroom. I knew that the last stop of the day would be the Golden Gate Bridge but I wasn’t sure how to get there. We could have ubered it but traffic was getting pretty bad. Luckily for me, Google Maps is amazing and suggested that I take the PresidiGo bus which is a free shuttle that you can take if you’re within the Presidio. We got on at the Crissy Field Center. It took a little longer than a regular bus or uber, probably, but hey, it was free! Can’t beat that.
GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE
I was so glad it wasn’t as windy as everyone was saying! My hair was not cooperating after being out all day since 8am. But this was definitely a highlight of the day. It’s just a breathtaking structure. And I loved the view of SF from the bridge. Places like this remind me of how amazing people are. Make sure to check out the welcome center and the gift shop!
The second full day of our trip started with a hike to Twin Peaks. Our Airbnb was near a bus stop, and you can transfer for free within a certain time frame. We caught brunch at Bacon Bacon, and hopped on another bus to land at the very bottom of Twin Peaks. We had to climb up two flights of very long stairs, but the 360 view of SF was totally worth it! Even in early October, the weather was beautiful. It was mid-70s and there was a nice breeze to keep us cool. Although my husband went up both peaks, I only had energy for just one.
JAPANESE TEA GARDEN
There are foodies. And then there are those who care more about the places they go or the things they do. So when I booked the Airbnb, I made sure that it wasn’t somewhere too noisy or crowded. If we were true foodies, we would’ve stayed in downtown SF. We got a quiet place near the Golden Gate Park which is full of amazing sites like the Japanese Tea Garden, Botanic Garden, museums, and more! It was so hard choosing only a few to visit because of the cost of admission or the lack of hours in the day! We chose to go to the Japanese Tea Garden because it seemed like a unique place. It was very serene. I would love to come back in the springtime when the cherry blossoms are in bloom!
DE YOUNG MUSEUM
I wish I could’ve visited more museums, but there were just too many on my list! Since the De Young Museum was in Golden Gate Park (just next door to the Japanese Tea Garden), it just made sense to visit here. If you get there well before closing time, you can go up the tower and take in yet another breathtaking view of SF.
Some people may not enjoy art museums as much as I do. You don’t always have to know everything about the artist, the artwork, or the history. To start, you can ask yourself three questions: 1) What sticks out to me about this artwork? 2) Why am I drawn to it? 3) What does it mean to me? For example, with the rainbow colored painting, I would answer in the following way: 1) The symmetry and bright colors stuck out to me. 2) I was drawn to them because I like order. I also love colors and can’t imagine my life without them. 3) And lastly, I think to me, this artwork is about how life can seem really messy and chaotic at times, but when you stop to appreciate the little things in life, like the colors of the rainbow, then things just seem to fall into place.
Have you been to San Francisco? What were some of your favorite things? I’ll add them to my list for next time!