San Francisco: The Essential Guide
San Francisco. Ah yes, one of the most visited cities in the world. As one of California’s gems, San Fran is well known for its ethnic and cultural diversity, its breath-taking scenery (including its magnificent hilly terrain), its summer fog, and - as the American’s say themselves - its general awesomeness.
Two of our North American experts - Celine and Orla – are just back from a trip to San Francisco. Instead of bringing back three giant Toblerones and a giant pack of peanut butter M&Ms, they brought us back a suitcase full of handy travel tips for us to share with you! We think they are almost as tasty as the chocolate – what do you think?
Our Accommodation in San Francisco
We stayed at the JW Marriott Hotel, which is right in the heart of downtown. Step outside the hotel, turn left and you're in Union Square. Rooms were very spacious and modern; the bathroom was big with separate tub and shower, twin sinks, all in marble. Ultimate luxury.
Our City Trips and Activities in San Francisco:
A city tour is a great way to get your bearings. The starting point is Union Square. It is a hop on - hop off style tour and includes Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, and lots more! We are glad we brought our camera!
Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39
There really is something for everyone at Pier 39; shops, restaurants, a giant carousel - which was great fun (we were like two big kids) - and lots of street performers and music. The main attraction was the sea lions...the noise of them! You definitely couldn’t miss them – even if you tried!
At Fisherman’s Wharf, we hired bikes. It cost us about 60USD which included a day’s bike hire, maps and a ferry ticket back from Sausalito. We cycled in the very safe cycle lane across the Golden Gate Bridge, and then got the ferry back. We had so much fun this day and it's something we would recommend. It took us about an hour – and that included stopping for photos and taking in the views. It's such a unique way to see the city and the bridge, and much better than sitting on a bus!
Across the Golden Gate Bridge is Sausalito, a unique Mediterraean-like village with galleries, restaurants, boutique shops and fabulous views of San Francisco across the bay. We stopped for lunch on the waterfront and it was beautiful...a must do - weather permitting!
This is the most popular attraction in San Fran. You really need to pre-book this, as it's always busy. We booked online through Alcatraz Trips. We really enjoyed Alcatraz; the atmosphere on the island is eerie and the audio tour is great!
Nightlife in San Francisco
There is plenty going on at night. Our top three venues would be:
Shopping in San Francisco
Union Square is great for shopping with a huge Macy's and Victoria's Secret, as well as the nearby Westfield Shopping Centre with over 170 shops!
Overall we had an absolute ball. We were so lucky weather-wise, as a heat wave hit us while we were there and it really made it for us! If anyone decides to stay at the Marriott we would recommend getting the hotel to arrange your transfer back to SFO - we got a big black Lincoln with blacked out windows, and felt like two VIPs heading on to our next port of call which was LAS VEGAS!
Do you like the sound of Celine and Orla’s trip? Why not experience the best of San Francisco for yourself?
Why not give Celine a call on 01 8047119 or Orlan on 01 8047144 and they can tell you more about their trip, and put together the package to suit individual interests and budget. You can also view our range of North American deals here
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