The Golden Gate City. Baghdad by the Bay. Fog City. Shaky Town. San Francisco goes by many names. It’s people are so distinct, it’s architecture so unique and it’s culture so defined. Although I have visited San Francisco before, it has never been in one day. Here, I will show you exactly where to go for one day in the City by the Bay.
The cloud cover towered over the skyline of San Francisco, but that is definitely very normal for the Golden Gate City. Our first touristy stop was Union Square, a one square block plaza flanked by buildings with all stores, known or no. Apple, Macy’s, Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue, and much more. A pretty place for a bite to eat, a coffee or simply a walk through the square, it is nice but not useful for much else. On top of that, it is very busy.
Walking from Union Square north towards Chinatown meant we had to pass through Dragon’s Gate, San Francisco’s main entrance to Chinatown. San Francisco holds the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. It is a melting pot of culture, music, food and language. Next time you are in San Francisco, make sure you stop in Chinatown to listen to the mandolin players on every corner, to try the Coconut Buns at Eastern Bakery and to feel the buzz of this Asian enclave in the Western World.
The walk from Chinatown to Fisherman’s Pier, our next stop, consists of some great architecture. An unknown castle stood in front of me as I headed down to the water, and a building made of glass.
Pier 39 is one of the most visited places in California. Therefore, the people there are through the roof. The tourist trap has overpriced magnets, a store dedicated entirely to key chains and the smell of fish in the air. Precisely why we didn’t spend much time there.
Another top photo spot, highlighting the Transamerica Building, is Pier 7. Although it still is busy and annoying tourists (I know, I’m one too) always get in photos, it is a lot less busy than Pier 39 and a lot cooler to take photos of.
Another tip for backpacking is you NEED extra batteries for your phone or camera. We had to go back to our hotel room for an hour and a half and charge our electronics before using GetAround to rent a SmartCar from 6:30 pm to 11:00 pm. GetAround is a great, simple app/website where you can immediately book a car on a moments notice for very affordable prices. Our Smart Car was around $4 an hour, compared to however much for Uber and a lot for daily rental car. You can even rent cars for as little as 15 minutes.
El Castro is basically Gay San Francisco. A happy, colorful and ecstatic community, this was probably my favorite part of San Fran, with the people so happy and the love and pride out in the air, unlike the rest of the city. They have Pride Flags hung all along the street and even this set of rainbow crosswalks. The gay community, clearly, has a large home here in San Francisco and I think the culture portrayed here is amazing. Definitely an awesome way to see the San Francisco you don’t normally see.
This couple here decided to have their wedding shoot here in front of the cold Pacific Ocean with the wind ruining most of the photos. But they were having the happiest day of their life, and that was all that mattered. Walking past them, her smile was the widest I have ever seen, and his eyes the most in love. That is what makes photos important, necessary and great. The emotion.
After enjoying the views at Baker Beach, and seeing the great Golden Gate, we drove to Vista Point, after it was already dark, and captured this long exposure. Overall, today was amazing and a good first stop on our U.S. Rail Pass.