Exploring San Francisco itself was spread over a few days, with a couple of day trips in between. You can catch up on San Francisco: Out & About (Part 1) here but now I’ll delve in to Part 2…
When you think of San Francisco, the iconic cable cars probably spring to mind. Being the world’s last manually operated cable car system these were on my ‘to do’ list and an experience I’ve been wanting to do for a while (I’m a self-proclaimed transport geek; don’t even get me started on the Belmond trains!).
All of the blogs and books I’ve read were not wrong about the queues but to be honest, at least this gave us time to have a coffee and a pastry in the line before climbing aboard, alongside purchasing 1-Day Visitor Passport from the kiosk (tip: one way tickets can be purchased on board but these have no on-off privileges). The beauty of the all-day Muni ticket means it can be used on not just the cable cars but all other public transport too.
We boarded the Cable Car at the Union Square turnaround and rode until Lombard Street where we disembarked so we could see the famous windy street, apparently the most crooked in the whole world. The flowers weren’t quite in bloom yet but it was still pretty great to see, despite being rather busy with both pedestrians and vehicles.
Next we mooched on down towards Fisherman’s Wharf to Ghirardelli Square to pick up some delicious chocolate then took in the sights of the Maritime Museum, SS Jeremiah O’Brien and USS Pampanito and of course checked out Musee Mecanique, the interactive museum featuring 20th century penny arcade games.
Just before lunch it was time to visit the sea lions at Pier 39, they were adorable all basking away in the sun or jumping in and out of the water, however they are a little stinky!
We’d read abut Scoma’s seafood restaurant in the Lonely Planet Guide and decided to head there for lunch (tip: prebook a table if you want a window seat) for San Fran’s famous clam chowder, which was the “best starter ever” according to CLB and I’m pretty sure I can agree too.
Coit Tower was next on the list (tip: book online to skip the lift queue) where you get the best aerial views of San Francisco. We were lucky and despite it being a little cloudy thankfully there was no low lying fog (very common in SF). Check out the images for yourself below:
As we’d enjoyed mooching around Fisherman’s Wharf we decided to head back there via Chinatown after the Coit Tower, for some drinks at Pier Market and a mini shopping spree at Boudin Bakery to pick up some souvenirs and breakfast for the next morning as we had a super early start – more on that here.