If I’ve been to San Francisco a half-dozen times, it would have been twice on my own dime and the other times on company business. Though it is certainly a large city, it is still a “walking city” in that the downtown area is full of retail shopping, coffee shops, all manner of bars and restaurants, newsstands – everything that you would expect to be there to support and entertain a resident downtown population. (I’ve learned in my travels that not all cities are this way… hmmm, can we say… Houston? – more on that later!)
The tourist mecca part of the city would probably center on the waterfront area near Fisherman’s Wharf and those very many shops and eateries nearby, but really there are famous touristy destinations all over the city.
My first time there was a brief stop prior to working for a few days in Sacramento, which is about 2 hours to the Northeast. My co-worker Pat and I needed to be in Sacramento on Monday morning (actually our office is in Rancho Cordova, which is Eastern Sacramento suburbs.) We had agreed as we planned the trip to travel from New Jersey and Philadelphia to San Francisco on Saturday, explore the city, and then proceed on Sunday up to the Sacramento area in order to be well rested and ready to work on Monday morning, installing a computer system or whatever it was.
So that set the stage for our “22 Hours in San Francisco!” That’s about the amount of time that we were in the city and we crammed in everything we could (while still taking time for some fine dining and a good hearty Cabernet – Pat and I are civilized people you know!)
Pat had flown in from Newark and had arrived several hours before me. I flew in from Philadelphia and arrived around 4 or 5 in the afternoon on that Saturday. Upon checking in to the Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf (again – love those Starwood hotels,) I called Pat and we agreed to meet in the lobby in 15 minutes. He had been to the city once or twice prior and I knew he had an informal plan to show me some of the sights. I lugged my stuff up to the room, splashed some water on my face, and then back down to the lobby to meet Pat and start our adventure!
Click any picture to view in gallery mode-
Afterwards I’ve many times joked that Pat and I could write the brochure “22 Hours in San Francisco”. If you like cities as much as Mrs. Working Stiff, my friend Pat, and I do, I strongly urge you to visit and to please allow a lot more time! BUT, if all you have is around 22 hours, you couldn’t do much worse than to follow our lead. In our brief time there we saw what we could, did a few things, looked across the water at a few things, and generally got a decent flavor of the city.
After our warm greeting in the lobby, Pat marched me right out and down to the waterfront and roughly west along the wharf area to a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the fog that was just starting to roll in. Pat did a good job kicking off our funny little tour because it was just great after a cross-country flight to look at the bay, the famous bridge, the fog coming in, Alcatraz over there to the right, and just to breathe in the sea air.
We did the town as well as we could, and yes we did make it up to Rancho Cordova in time for a nice dinner on Sunday and we did get our work done in the following few days.
I might not have the sequence exactly correct, but to the best of my memory this is what we did in San Francisco, and this is what I recommend that YOU do at a bare minimum:
- Stroll along the waterfront, smell the sea, watch the fog roll in from the Pacific
- Admire the majesty of the Golden Gate Bridge
- Look across the bay at Alcatraz Island and the famous prison there. (Take the tour if you have more time.)
- Tour around Ghirardelli Square and buy chocolates for all your friends
- Have an Irish coffee at The Buena Vista (legendary inventor of the Irish coffee)
- Ride the cable car somewhere (I think we rode it from Fisherman’s Wharf to Union Square)
- Visit Alamo Square Park and look at the iconic row of Victorian houses along the one side
- Visit the Haight – Ashbury neighborhood, considered to be the epicenter of the 1960s hippie/counter-culture movement
- Visit Chinatown, hopefully for a meal, but at least for a stroll
- Stroll around Union Square, not far from Chinatown
- Almost forgot – drive or walk down Lombard Street (which Pat will always call “Crooked Street”), famous for its block of hair-pin turns.
Whew – I’m all worn out and my shins hurt again as though I’ve been walking the streets of San Francisco again!!
The Working Stiff