“I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill, it calls to me
To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars
The morning fog may chill the air, I don’t care
My love waits there in San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you, San Francisco
Your golden sun will shine for me”
Mr. Bennett was on to something when he endearingly sang this song about the city by the bay. It only took a few days for San Fran to have the same effect on me. Simply put, there’s beauty everywhere you look. From sky, to land, and the sea in between.
It also lacks nothing in terms of history and culture. My husband and I were lucky enough to call this beautiful city home for a week and these were my top 5 things to see and do in San Francisco.
1. Muir Woods
When researching our trip, seeing redwood trees was on the top of my list. I live in the South, so I’m surrounded by big beautiful trees, but nothing compared to these 250ft tall giants. I honestly didn’t want to leave. Muir Woods was just a few miles north of where we were staying in San Fran, and was a pleasant drive. Entrance fee was $10 when we visited (free entry is available on select dates). I would recommend getting there early and avoid the heavier crowds. Be prepared to park and walk a bit (or take a shuttle that will drop you off). Take your time, and maybe a snack, and of course, don’t forget your camera.
2.Visit a Winery
No trip to California would be complete without visiting a winery. Even if you aren’t someone who typically drinks wine, I would still recommend visiting one. You get to see the beautiful vineyards, have lunch with a view, and learn about the history and precision of creating a drink that so many across the world enjoy. We chose Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards as our wine destination in Sonoma.
I can honestly say I’ve never enjoyed wine in a more beautiful setting. Their outdoor seating area was breathtaking. We did the guided tour for $25 a person which includes multiple glasses of wine along the tour, but if you aren’t into the history and process of wine, or your time is limited, I would suggest going for a tasting and sharing a flight with friends (ranges from $25-$33). Sit out on the terrace, and just soak it in. Sidenote: if you’re still hungry or need some carbs to soak up all the wine, stop by the Fremont Diner. We luckily stumbled upon this country cooking gem, and we were so glad we did!
3. Half Moon Bay & Mavericks
If you’re into surfing then you may already know about Mavericks– a beach near Half Moon Bay, California known for it tumultuous conditions and record breaking waves (not to mention the location where Gerard Butler caught a few waves in the film Chasing Mavericks). It wasn’t quite warm enough for our group to hang ten but wanted to take a look and a few pictures.
It was a mild day but you can still see the power in these waves. It would be a great place to take a picnic lunch and enjoy the show.
Looking out on the bay sits a lonely block of stone known as “The Rock”. Lots of friends had recommended we visit it and i’m so glad we did! It may sound boring to some but when you’re walking around the rusted cells and seeing the holes where prisoners escaped or the marks on the floor from bullets and bombs, it’s much more interesting than one would expect. In some ways it was a beautiful place with amazing views and scenery. In other ways it was saddening and a bit creepy. Depending on when you go the tour can cost around $30 a person which includes your ferry ride to and from Alcatraz and a headset that assists in a self-guided tour. (Bonus:The ferry ride gives a great vantage point to capture a few photos).
If you go to Alcatraz, listen to the headset! If not, you will miss the history that breathes life into the building. Find out more information and prices for visiting here, and as the tours can fill up weeks in advance, it’s best to reserve a spot before arriving in the city.
If you do nothing else while you’re in San Fran, drive the coast! Even if you don’t have a well planned list of stops you’ve googled and researched. You can’t avoid seeing beautiful sights on the coast, it will happen. Sometimes it’s nice to just drive, without a list, and see where the road takes you. We found this beauty by doing just that. I may have had to cross two busy lanes of traffic and stand close to a cliff to get this shot, but it was worth it.
I couldn’t end this post without mentioning the Golden Gate. She is quite the site to behold-but it doesn’t take a considerable amount of time to see her. Stop by, take a picture and continue exploring this beautiful city. Happy travels!