San Francisco brings endless possibilities. If traveling there for the first time, you’ll find there is so much to do and far too little time. To make the most of your time, skip the guided tours and explore the city on your own.
Walk The Golden Gate Bridge
The first time I walked the Golden Gate Bridge, I had somehow forgotten my desperate fear of heights, and especially of being on bridges over water. When I got up on the bridge and began walking, I had two options: go back, or go faster.
Best time to go: early morning or during the week. It gets fairly crowded on the sidewalk during the weekends. If you go during the weekend, the crowd doesn’t start picking up until 10 or 11AM. The only issue with going in the morning is that the fog burns off mid-day. If you prefer dealing with the crowds and having higher visibility, definitely go in the afternoon.
Seal Watch at Pier 39
Pier 39 near Fisherman’s Wharf is home to many shops and restaurants. Seals often take rest on the docks surrounding the pier and can be watched from multiple locations on the first or second levels of the pier. There are benches to sit on if you plan on staying a while.
Best time to go: on a week night around sunset. Less tourists during the week, and especially at that time of day.
Run (Or Walk) Along The Bay
If you’re a runner, San Francisco is a perfect place to take your training with you. The hills of the city streets will definitely challenge you in ways that few other places will. If wanting to explore the city without training too hard, running along the Bay is a perfect place to do it. A slower pace will let you enjoy all of the sights, and you can always divert to an inland street for a challenge at pretty much any intersection.
Best time to go: at sunrise before the shops open and the tourists start filling in. Or, if wanting to go to the shops, go in the early morning to avoid the crowds.
Visit China Town
San Francisco’s China Town is the oldest within the US. So much history, great food, and culture can be found in just a few blocks. Best time to go: go for lunch and visit the shops during the afternoon, especially during the foggy days of winter.
Shop, Eat, & People-Watch In Union Square
Union Square is a great place to shop in San Francisco. There is a wide range of stores here, from designer boutiques to lower-end stores. There are many places to eat in the area, many of which have patios that make the perfect spot to people-watch.
Best time to go: the early mornings won’t have as many crowds. Grab brunch with the girls, shop and stick around for a drink on a patio in the afternoon.