Overview: If you google San Francisco (SF) attractions, the most popular things that will pop up are Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge etc. If it’s your first time in the city, go to these places, but if you’ve been to SF a few times like most California folks have, I recommend seeing these 5 free unique landmarks. I covered all of these in one day with my coworker Brian aka Duke Silver, by walking and taking public transportation. I greatly enjoyed the vibes of the city, eating some awesome food, and of course doing a bit of hiking. Can’t forget the hiking!
- Be prepared to walk. Bring shoes with good arch support.
- Cash for the Muni ($2.50 to ride public transportion for 3 hours)
- Download MuniMobile App
1. The Painted Ladies
We started our free walking tour of the city by visiting the Painted Ladies. The Painted Ladies are a row of 7 unique victorian houses located on the corners of Hayes and Steiner streets (take Muni line #21 westbound from downtown) across the street from Alamo Square park.
The “Painted Ladies” are a symbol of the city’s landscape. The “Ladies” have a rich history going back to the Gold Rush Era. Although people live in the houses today, many people enjoy gathering across the park to take pictures and observe the landscape of the city. Imagine having to keep your blinds closed all the time! Not fun … anyways, here is a link to read more about the history and fun facts. http://www.upout.com/blog/san-francisco-3/25-facts-might-not-know-painted-ladies
2. Haight-Ashbury District & Jerry Garcia Home
Haight-Ashbury is a district in SF made up of urban restaurants, vintage souvenir shops, and colorful architecture. According to Time Magazine, The Haight-Ashbury District is the birthplace of America’s counter-culture. It boasts a rich history of the 70’s, and was home to famous residents, including Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jerry Garcia, the lead singer for the band, The Grateful Dead. His home, dubbed the Grateful Dead House, is free to walk up to and take pictures, but keep in mind, there are new residents so be respectful. Read more about Jerry Garcia here: http://jerrygarcia.com/jerrys-story/
I enjoyed walking down the Haight-Ashbury district, going into the shops and trying some teas and taking in the beautiful architecture.
3. Golden Gate Park
The end of the Haight-Ashbury district, brought us to Golden Gate Park. The park is beautiful and vast. It is probably the second prettiest city park I have visited (The first being New York’s Central Park). It takes you right into the Palace of Fine Arts and the California Academy of Sciences. The park boasts a beautiful Rose Garden (the aroma was so calming), and a lake with lots of wild life, a beautiful gazebo, and a waterfall. My eyes saw so many beautiful things in the park. Talk about an Eye Orgy!
4. Mosaic Steps / The Grand View
After leaving the park, we walked towards 17th Street to the beautiful 16th Avenue Tiled Steps aka, “The Mosaic Steps.” The Mosaic Steps was a community project completed in 2003. The Steps are located on 16th and Moraga Street and are accessed by 17th street. The tiled steps are composed of art that starts from the sea and ascends into the sky. Truly cool stuff. The steps also feature beautiful succulent landscaping along the sides. If you are a succulent nerd like me, you will really appreciate this touch. After walking up the Steps, there were these cute little twins with their lemonade stand. How cute is that! #FutureEntrepeneurs
We then decided to do a short hike up the mountain just at the top of the steps which we later found out is called “The Grand View”. This view has a stunning overview of the city, the ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. It brought a lot of perspective being at the top. Kind of centers you if that makes sense.
Read more about the Mosaic Steps here: http://www.tiledsteps.org
Break Time! Take a break from your touristy adventures and go to Burma Superstar restaurant. That place is freaked delishish! It is only open for lunch and dinner. Arrive there at least 30 minutes early because there is a line that forms before it opens. We had the rainbow salad and some samosas which was so yummy! Here’s a link to their website. http://www.burmasuperstar.com
5. The Crooked Street
Finally, the last stop in our adventures was Lombard Street aka the Crooked Street. Lombard Street in San Francisco is said to be the most crooked street in the world but it’s actually the second most crooked street. According to Mercury News, around 1 million cars drive down the street every year. It’s usually always packed with tourists but it’s a quick destination stop to mark off your SF itinerary. After a full day of walking in the heat, we took the Muni back to the BART to our hotel and called it a day. I hope you enjoyed my suggestions and maybe try some of them out. I always have fun exploring new places and trying new foods and I hope you will too.
If you live close to SF like me, go out and explore California if you aren’t doing so already. People travel from across the world to see things that are only a few hours away.
For many of us, it is so easy to become isolated and self-serving. There are always bills and living paycheck by paycheck is a real thing. I know. When possible, I challenge you to go out and explore.
Life is short so live all you can!