48 Hours in San Francisco

San Francisco is one of my favourite cities in the world, and has been since the first time I set eyes on it 8 years ago. Its the sort of city where even the graffiti is beautiful and despite swearing the whole time you trek up those super steep hills, you still can’t quite hate them because there’s always something pretty to see along the way.

On our trip to Hawaii, we had a two day stopover in San Francisco, and as it was Matthew’s first time in the Golden Gate City, I wanted to make sure he got to see and do everything that you should do when in San Fran, and although we didn’t quite manage everything we thought we would (thanks jet lag), I thought I’d share my sorta ‘ultimate guide’ for doing San Francisco in 48 hours!

Before you visit

There are a few things that you should definitely book in advance in order to not only make your trip smoother while you’re there, but also save yourself a bit of money. Firstly, you should book Alcatraz in advance, and I’d really recommend trying to get on the earliest sailing of the day to beat the crowds and get a jump start on the day. The other thing I would recommend purchasing in advance is the San Francisco Explorer Pass, which gives you access to a number of SF’s biggest tourist attractions. You can choose either a 3, 4 or 5 attraction pass, which of course you can decide on for yourself, but don’t worry, if you need to do more attractions than you have a pass for, the pass also gives you discounted entry to most of the attractions as well.

Be sure to wear some comfortable shoes, because this plan will keep you busy busy busy!

Day one

Utilise the inevitable jet lag and start the day off with your early morning trip to Alcatraz – trust me, the view is worth the early morning. There’s no set time limit that you have on the island, but if you follow the provided audioguide then you’ll probably spent a good 2 hours or thereabouts, and boats depart every 30 mins so you never have to wait too long for the next ride back. From Alcatraz Landing, walk along the Embarcadero to Pier 39 where you can visit the Aquarium of the Bay (an Explorer Pass option), explore the shops and pier activities and watch the sea-lions in the bay – they can keep you entertained for hours, trust me!

Continuing along the Embarcadero, walk down past Fisherman’s Wharf to the main Boudin Sourdough factory, where you can do a free factory tour (it only takes about 10 mins but there’s free bread so y’know) and then get lunch from the cafe downstairs, preferably something that comes in a bread bowl because that’s so San Francisco, but all of the food there is amazing. While you’re at the waterfront, you’ve got some other tourist attractions at your doorstep, including Madame Tussauds, the San Francisco Dungeons and Ripley’s Believe it or Not, which are also included on the SF Explorer Pass. If you’re into chocolate, I would definitely recommend you walk along to Ghirardelli Square, and then head back to the Powell/Mason Cable Car Turnaround for a true San Francisco experience.

The Powell/Mason car runs all the way to Union Square, and its $7 one way (you’ll need this in cash), or you can buy a day pass, but once you’ve only really gotta do it one time. You can ride this cable car all the way up to Union Square, putting you right in the hustle and bustle of the main shopping district. In the square you’ve got Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, and the streets surrounding have everything from the high fashion of Chanel and Hermes, as well as Westfield Shopping Centre, Sephora, Disney Store and a whole tonne of other stores, so you can shop until you drop.

Call it cliche, but if you’re in Union Square around dinner time, you’ve got to have dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. Yes, there’s probably one of these in every city in America, but this one is located on the top floor of Macy’s, and there’s a roof terrace where you can sit out and eat dinner while watching the world go by in Union Square below! Psst! If you can make a reservation in advance, do it!

Day two

Save yourself one attraction on your Explorer Pass, and spend the day getting around the city and seeing the big sights on the hop on/hop off bus. Depending on where you’re staying, there are a whole bunch of stops you can start your journey, but some major places are Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf.

The bus will take you around the whole city, with stops including Pier 39, Coit Tower, Chinatown and most importantly, it will take you over the Golden Gate Bridge to Vista Point, where you can get off and take as many photos of the incredible landmark as you like while you wait for the next bus, and believe me, the views are stunning. You can obviously get off wherever you like, but I highly recommend exploring Chinatown, and if you’re not too allergic to stairs, the views from Coit Tower are also amazing. There are also stops near the Asian Art Museum, California Academy of Sciences and the SF Museum of Modern Art, so this is the best way to get to all the attractions you might want to visit. The buses run all the way up until 5pm, so you can spend all day seeing the beauty of the city, and the live tour guides give you so much information and fun facts.

So obviously you don’t have to follow my advice one bit, but hopefully this has given you a little bit of inspiration, and if you do visit I hope you love the place as much as I do!

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

Hopping On and Off San Francisco

This morning was not such an early start, although I still woke up before 7am. I took the opportunity to eat the cheesecake that I’d taken away from the Cheesecake Factory the night before, because if you can’t eat cheesecake for breakfast in bed on holiday, when can you?

Once ready for the day, Matthew and I started to walk to Sarah’s hotel, but along the way managed to pick up two scooters which made the trip to Union Square a lot faster! The plan for today was to make use of the hop on/hop off bus that we had tickets for, and see as much of the city as we could with the ease of not having to navigate to many places ourselves. We rode the bus from Union Square and around the route through the city til we reached the Golden Gate Bridge. Being on the top deck of an open top bus made the ride across the bridge crazy windy but wow do you get a feel for how impressive that thing is. We got off at the Vista Point viewing stop for some photos, and then got on the next bus to continue the tour.

Undecided on the exact plan for the rest of the day stopwise, we went all the way back round the city til we hit Pier 39, grabbed some lunch in one of the restaurants there and with some food in us it was a lot easier to settle on a plan. We managed to nab a scooter each from around the area, and rode ourselves to Lombard Street (although we had to push the scooters up the ridiculous hill that is Lombard) to see the famous zig-zag road, then scooted back to Fisherman’s Wharf where we bought a quick drink and hopped back on another bus, completing a full loop back to Union Square but then continuing back round a few more stops as we had another adventure planned.

Sarah and I had really wanted to find two things in San Francisco: the rainbow crossing and the rainbow house, and it took some walking but we managed to do both. The rainbow crossing was pretty easy to find, but the house involved many many super steep hills and I still can’t believe we made it up there alive – it was a long walk!

Absolutely knackered, we got an Uber back to the Embarcadero and got dinner at In And Out Burger, then had a true San Francisco experience of riding the cable cars from nearby all the way back to Union Square, where we finished up the day visiting the Disney Store before saying goodbye to Sarah for the rest of our trip and heading back to the hotel.

We fly to Aulani first thing tomorrow morning!

A Proper San Francisco Day

Today has been a pretty great day. Our jet lag actually helped us out quite a lot, as we had stupidly not remembered to book Alcatraz in advance, but as we were up at 5.30am, we could get to the ticket office for 7.30am (courtesy of a very chatty Uber driver) as they release some on-the-day tickets and we got onto the first tour of the day with no problem at all, grabbing breakfast between buying tickets and boarding the boat.

Alcatraz was really interesting – I admit I didn’t know all that much about it before today other than the basics, but there’s a lot to learn even if you do know a bit about it! We started off watching a mini documentary about the history of the island, then walked up to the cell building where audio guides are provided to guide your whole way round and through the building and sharing a tonne of interesting info along the way.

Once we’d seen everything we wanted to see, we got the boat back to the city and walked along to Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, stopping for a bit of time to watch the sea-lions, then continued along the waterfront to the Boudin sourdough bakery to walk around the mini factory tour and then grab lunch in the cafe there. SO GOOD.

Next on the agenda was the Walt Disney Family Museum, which we got an Uber to. The museum is in a really pretty area just outside the main city, and we spent a good amount of time learning even more about the wonder that is Walt Disney. As the museum was quite close to the Golden Gate Bridge, we decided to walk from there along to a grassy park area near the bridge, which gave us stunning views of the landmark, although it was quite a walk there and back to a place where an Uber would pick us up from again, but along the way we did discover something pretty cool..

So the night before and during the day today, we’d seen a number of people riding this electric scooters, but also they could be found just lying around the streets, so while we were walking I decided to google them to find out what the deal was. Well they’re kinda like Boris bikes crossed with Uber – you find a scooter, activate it with your phone and pay for the time you use it. Well, we also happened to come across one, so there was some scooter riding involved, but I digress.

We Ubered back to Sarah’s hotel, where she and I disembarked for a trip to the Sephora round the corner, and Matthew left us to it and met us in Union Square to go for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory in Macy’s.

We were all so knackered from the early morning and busy day that we could hardly keep our eyes open at dinner, let alone tackle those enormous portions so we picked at what we could and I took my cheesecake to go and we got back to the hotel as quick as possible so I could finally get my feet up!

Hello San Francisco

Well gang, another adventure has begun, but as most of today was spent travelling, this is really just a check in to say that we’ve arrived in San Francisco, which is one of my favourite cities in the world and I’m so happy to be here.

We flew with Norwegian for the first time (full scoop on what it was like when I’m back!), it was a 10 hour flight but it flew by pretty quickly as it was essentially a 10 hour catch up with Sarah and my god can we talk for England..

We landed at Oakland airport and got a train into San Fran, checked into our respective hotels and then Matthew and I walked to Sarah’s and we grabbed Panda Express for dinner (another favourite of mine) and headed back for bed as our bodies were feeling the fact it was 4.30am in the UK!

Stay tuned for two more days of jam packed San Francisco fun before Matthew and I head off to Aulani!

We’re Going to Aulani!

Someone pinch me, because I can’t believe this is really happening.

Credit: disneyvacationclub.disney.go.com

Disney’s Hawaiian resort has been on my ultimate bucket list for I don’t even know how long, and being able to visit this absolute paradise was a big selling point when Matthew and I joined the Disney Vacation Club, so much so we were determined to make it our first DVC trip.

We’ve spent the last few weeks trying to familiarise ourselves with the DVC booking system, and checking day in, day out for availability in the weeks we were hoping to make the trip, but it was all starting to look a little impossible. We’d either have to change rooms every other day, or end up having to buy extra points on top of borrowing points from our next year, and suddenly our lovely relaxing holiday was turning into a stressful booking experience.. Until last night, when for some bizarre reason, Matthew was awake at 2am and decided to check the DVC website, and by some miracle a whole week was suddenly open and he booked it on the spot!

So we’re going to be in paradise at the end of April, and as well as doing a week in Aulani, we’re gonna spend a few days in San Francisco, which is one of my favourite cities in the world. I’m absolutely squealing just thinking about this trip and better still its less than 130 days away!

I’m so ready for another adventure!

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram