San Francisco to Reno

San Francisco to Reno

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
  • Chinatown
  • Pier 39
  • Cable cars
  • Lombard Street
San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

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.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

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!

Alcatraz Island, San Francisco

Alcatraz Island, San Francisco

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.

Cable Car, San Francisco

Cable Car, San Francisco

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.

Lombard Street, San Francisco

Lombard Street, San Francisco

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.

Reno to Lassen Volcanic National Park

2017-03-13T13:22:15+00:00January 10th, 2017|North America, USA|15 Comments


  1. Diana January 24, 2017 at 3:25 am - Reply

    I’m going to SF in a few weeks and want to hit up pretty much everything you did. Quick question – for Alcatraz, did you have to book online in advance, or could you just show up on the day of? Thanks! 🙂

    • James Smith January 24, 2017 at 9:25 am - Reply

      I would say 100% book in advance!

  2. Natasha January 24, 2017 at 9:10 am - Reply

    I love your photos, I only had a short time to visit San Francisco so I definitely need to return soon!

  3. Urska from sliva January 24, 2017 at 9:11 am - Reply

    Thanks for all the tips, we are going to SF in February – really helpful article 🙂

  4. Midori January 24, 2017 at 9:45 am - Reply

    I want so badly to go to St Francisco!!!!!

  5. Pete January 25, 2017 at 12:46 am - Reply

    I always stay at the Fort Mason Youth Hostel. Fabulous location and views.

  6. Maggie February 21, 2017 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    San Francisco is one of my favorite cities in the US! It’s an hour flight from SoCal, so we tend to go frequently. Lombard street never gets old!

  7. Alexis Rivard February 21, 2017 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    This is probably embarrassing but I’ve always wanted to go to SF because of the old TV show That’s So Raven. I knew very little else about it until reading your post so I’ll be saving this for the future. Have fun in Reno!

  8. Jenn and Ed Coleman February 21, 2017 at 10:48 pm - Reply

    I just got back from visiting San Fransisco about a month ago. This time of year, it was very hard to get a clear day. There were actually mudslides that closed the road to Santa Cruz. We spent about two weeks there in total, mostly on personal business but the final day in the city the weather cleared. We rushed over to the Golden Gate Bridge and took lots of pictures.

    Another cool area of San Fransisco is the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. It was the epicenter for hippy music including the Grateful Dead and still loaded with cools shops and restaurants

    Fun post and it looks like you have a lot more travels ahead of you.

  9. Christie February 22, 2017 at 12:25 am - Reply

    My home!!! This was so fun to read. It sounds like you liked it, although you never really flat out said that… 🙂 Did you? You went to so many great spots and it looks like the weather was nice while you were here! Especially if you were in a t-shirt. Haha. Great info, thanks for sharing!!

  10. Ticker Eats The World February 22, 2017 at 10:29 am - Reply

    Another brilliant city post and this time it is one of the most iconic cities of the world. Although I haven’t been there as an adult, I am aware of the all the spots you mention and without a doubt they should be on everyone’s must visit list of the city.

  11. Vicky @ A Backpack Full of Adventures February 22, 2017 at 8:25 pm - Reply

    Another great post, James – San Francisco has been on my list of places I want to visit for quite a while now. I’d love to visit Alcatraz (I’ve always been fascinated by its history and saw Escape from Alcatraz so many times, I lost count), so that would definitely be my first stop – with the Golden Gate Bridge as a close second! I had no idea it was earthquake-proof and had to be re-painted so many times, though!

  12. Janine Good February 22, 2017 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    My hubby really wants to head here! I am happy to read that the bridge is earthquake proof. I hope they rebuild things to be earthquake proof everywhere else they have one. Alcatraz looks interesting, but too morbid for me. I would be happy taking the cable car downtown and back several times before going on a tour there.

  13. Ling February 23, 2017 at 6:11 am - Reply

    Great list of places to check out in SF! I’ve been to most of these places; the only places I haven’t check out were Alcatraz and Lombard Street. Those would probably be my first stops in order to complete this list. Also, the Golden Gate Bridge was featured in X-Men 3. 🙂

  14. Swati & Sam February 26, 2017 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    A lot of our friends stay in SFO and they keep inviting us to visit. While in the States, we could not visit SFO because of the super expensive flight rates. Escape from Alcatraz is one of my favorite movies, I would love to visit this museum. Would also love to visit the ever famed Lombard street. Love the picture of the Alcatraz Island.

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