San Francisco is a city in California, USA which offers the following points of interest for tourists and photographers;
- Golden Gate bridge
- Alcatraz Island
- Fisherman’s wharf
- Union Square
- Pier 39
- Cable cars
- Lombard Street
San Francisco is a super expensive city, it’s comparable to visiting a Swiss or Scandinavian city in Europe. When you stay here you must accept that you will spend more money than in other US cities. I found that staying in a hotel around Van Ness street was the best value. I stayed in the Inn on Broadway which is located on Van Ness and Broadway, it’s not cheap but nowhere is cheap here! Staying here meant I could park the car for free and leave it in the hotel whilst walking the city on foot.
To get to downtown San Francisco is not walkable but you can use one of the famous cable cars to get to downtown and back!
Another option for those who do not want to walk, or if the weather is bad, is to take the tourist bus. You can even combine this with the Alcatraz tour.
The Golden Gate bridge is probably the most famous bridge in the world. It has featured in many movies and a visit to this famous bridge doesn’t disappoint. Here are a few interesting facts about the bridge.
- It’s constantly being painted, by the time they finish painting it, it needs repainting!
- It’s earthquake proof
- It’s the number one suicide location in the world (don’t try this!)
- 10 million pedestrians cross it per year
- It’s in the following movies; San Andreas, Vertigo, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
As a photographer, the bridge was my favorite part of San Francisco. I enjoyed walking out to it along the promenade, then crossing it and seeing it from the other side. I got hundreds of photos of the bridge from all different angles!
To visit Alcatraz you must go with Alcatraz Cruises, there are various options as to how and when you visit, early morning is the least crowded. The ferries leave from Pier 33, a short walk from Fishermans Wharf. Alcatraz Island has been in many movies including, Escape from Alcatraz and The Rock. There will probably be an ex-prisoner selling and signing his book on the Island.
When you come back from Alcatraz Island you’ll no doubt be hungry. I recommend a walk up to the famous Pier 39 which is one of the top attractions in San Francisco. At Pier 39 you’ll find waterfront restaurants, bars, street performers, live music, shopping and lots of sea lions. Personally I preferred a Burger at In-N-Out.
San Francisco is famous for it’s traditional cable cars which still run on the street parallel to Van Ness (Taylor street). You can take the traditional cable car from the Powell / Mason cable car turnaround. If you want to take a cable car to downtown or to the piers then it’s better to take a new one (pictured above). They leave from Powell and Beach, passing the piers then going to the heart of downtown. As always, I recommend having the offline maps app on your phone so you know where you are as the cable car is moving.
Before leaving San Francisco I wanted to drive on the famous Lombard Street. It is claimed that Lombard street is the crookedest street in the world. Because the road is so steep, for safety reasons they made the road wind around. Lombard street appears in some computer games and also in the Hitchcock movie, Vertigo. You’ll see lots of tourists here taking photos and driving down it!
My next destination is Reno which is a straightforward drive on east on I-80. This route passes the capital city of California, Sacramento as well as Lake Tahoe before crossing the border in Nevada.