On the third leg of my cross-country Road Trip, I will be spending 2 days in San Francisco. The city has so much to offer with beaches, wonderful weather, iconic landmarks and so much more. With so much to see, I am hoping that I have time to fit it all in.
The San Francisco Bay is one of the largest natural made harbors of the world. The bay was a river valley that was flooded and submerged during the melting of the ice glaciers.
Alcatraz was taken over by Native Americans in 1969. After the government abandoned Alcatraz (the infamous “inescapable” prison), a mixed group of Native Americans turned Alcatraz into their home. They remained on the island for 2 years until they were forcibly evicted.
San Francisco was the home of the 1849 Gold Rush.
Twin Peaks was named LosPechos de la Chola, or The Breasts of the Indian Woman by Spanish explorers in the area. (3)
The city was almost completely destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1906. Refugee camps were set up for the people whose homes were destroyed.
Must-see Landmarks when spending only 2 Days in San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge
The famous red Golden Gate Bridge can be viewed from several spots throughout the city.
The federal prison on Alcatraz Island in the chilly waters of California’s San Francisco Bay housed some of America’s most difficult and dangerous felons during its years of operation from 1934 to 1963. Among those who served time at the maximum-security facility were the notorious gangster Al “Scarface” Capone (1899-1947) and murderer Robert “Birdman of Alcatraz” Stroud (1890-1963). No inmate ever successfully escaped The Rock, as the prison was nicknamed, although more than a dozen known attempts were made over the years. After the prison was shut down due to high operating costs, the island was occupied for almost two years, starting in 1969, by a group of Native-American activists. Today, historic Alcatraz Island, which was also the site of a U.S. military prison from the late 1850s to 1933, is a popular tourist destination.History Channel
There is no fee to go on the island and tour the grounds. However, you must pay for a ferry to get you across to the island. Advanced reservations are strongly recommended. Tickets are $39.90 each from Alcatraz Cruises, which is where the NPS recommends.
🗺 501 Twin Peaks Blvd, San Francisco 🌅 For a clear view visit on a sunny day clear of fog.
Twin Peaks is a 922 foot hill in the center of the city, which offers a beautiful view of the city from above.
Abandoned & Unique Places to Explore
Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
Released/Escaped pet parrots 🦜 found a home on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. Over the years, the flock of wild parrots has reached over 200 parrots. Beautiful flowers 🌸 and bushes line the walk of the stairs leading up the hill. The parrots can be spotted flying throughout the city.
🗺 Getting There
Can be accessed from the top or bottom. The bottom is at Embarcadero, across from the old Levi’s plaza, and is not very impressive, but very steep. Can be accessed at the top from Filbert and Kearny, or from Telegraph Hill Blvd.During the day, it may be easier to see more parrots in the trees throughout nearby (and easier to get to) Sue Bierman Park, near the Ferry Building.Atlas Obscura
Fort Miley Batteries
🗺 Point Lobos bordered by Clement St. and Lincoln Park between 40th to 48th Avenues.
Hikers today could easily miss what was once an impressive military stronghold overlooking the entrance to the Golden Gate, but where a few fortifications now stand obscured by trees, Fort Miley once covered 54 acres with an unobstructed view of the sea.Atlas Obscura
The Seward Street Slides
🗺 Location: Community Garden and Seward Mini-Park Seward St & Douglass St
🕰 Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (Closed Mondays)
These slides were designed in 1960 by a local teenager. The park where the slide sits was slated for demolition in 1963. The community protested the demolition for years. They even had a sit-in to stop the bulldozers. By 1973, the developers abandoned the demolition project and turned the area again into a public park.
🗺 Land’s Edge
A millionaire wanted a healthy fun place for the citizens of San Francisco to gather and swim. The Sutra baths were finished in 1896. The baths featured natural salt water as well as natural spring water, pools with 7 different temperatures and could hold 10,000 swimmers.
Over the years, the baths lost popularity and finally closed in the 1960’s. Shortly thereafter, a fire 🔥 burned the historical structure to the ground.
Sutro’s dream for the Baths was to provide a healthy, recreational and inexpensive swimming facility for thousands of San Franciscans. A classic Greek portal opened to a massive glass enclosure containing seven swimming pools at various temperatures. There were slides, trapezes, springboards and a high dive. The power of the Pacific Ocean during high tide could fill the 1.7 million gallons of water required for all the pools in just one hour. The Baths could accommodate 10,000 people at one time and offered 20,000 bathing suits and 40,000 towels for rent.https://www.nps.gov/goga/learn/historyculture/sutro-baths.htm
Pier 39: Fisherman’s Warf
🗺 Jefferson Street, between Hyde and Powell Street
The sea lions decided to make this once busy pier for boats their home. Instead of trying to get rid of the sea lions, the city decided to close the pier to boats. Hundreds of sea lions can be seen sun bathing on the piers.Restaurants, shops and various other attractions now line this popular tourist destination.
The Historic Fisherman’s Wharf District of San Francisco is home to PIER 39, Ghirardelli Square, Anchorage Square, the National Maritime Museum, Historic Hyde Street Pier, breathtaking views and so much more.Visit Fisherman’s Wharf
Getting Around the City
Parking can be quite expensive, so it is best and cheaper to use public transportation.
Muni Transportation System
Buses, Trolley Cars, Street Cars and Cable Cars run to all parts of the city. A $5 unlimited day pass can be purchased from Muni Mobile.
Hop-on, Hop-off Buses
The Sightseeing Pass includes a hop-on, hop-off bus service to 20 popular destinations
The Big Bus Red Tour is a full city loop that will take you to famous neighborhoods and attractions including Pier 39, Chinatown, Little Italy, Painted Ladies Victorian Homes, Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood, Golden Gate Park, Lombard Crooked Street, Union Square Shopping District and an unforgettable journey across the Golden Gate Bridge. Included in your Big Bus Experience is a 1 hour guided walking tour the world-famous and historic Chinatown neighborhood.Sight Seeing Pass
Red Route Stops
1. San Francisco Visitor Center
2. Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf
3. Washington Square / North Beach
4. Embarcadero Center
5. Ferry Building
6. Union Square South
7. Hilton Hotel
8. Civic Center
9. Alamo Square
10. Haight Ashbury
11. Golden Gate Park (Monday – Saturday only)
12. North Vista Point / Golden Gate Bridge
13. Palace of Fine Arts
14. Marina / Cow Hollow
15. Lombard Street
16. Union Square North
17. Chinatown Gate
18. Portsmouth Square
19. Pier 35/ Cruise Terminal
20. Fisherman’s Wharf
San Francisco Weather
Average Temperature by Month
- Encyclopedia Britannica. “San Francisco”. https://www.britannica.com/place/San-Francisco-California
- National Park Services. “Alcatraz Island”. https://www.nps.gov/alca/planyourvisit/fees.htm
- Inside Guide to San Francisco. ”Twin Peaks”. https://www.inside-guide-to-san-francisco-tourism.com/twin-peaks-san-francisco.html
- The Cliff House Project. http://www.cliffhouseproject.com/environs/sutrobaths/sutro_baths.htm
- Inside Guide to San Francisco. ”Golden Gate Bridge”.https://www.inside-guide-to-san-francisco-tourism.com/golden-gate-bridge-views.html
- Trip Advisor. Travel Guide. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g60713-s303/San-Francisco:California:Public.Transportation.html