After arriving in San Francisco we first had to find a hotel. We stayed at a Motel 6 in Oakland because an ongoing festival made it very expensive to find a hotel downtown. Oakland is just over the Oakland Bay Bridge from Downtown San Francisco, so it’s an option if you have a car. Parking may become expensive in San Francisco but if you have someone you share a car with you can leave your car at a garage for $30 per day. We spent three days exploring and sightseeing in San Francisco, but of course you could spend many more days in the city.
We wanted to see as much as we can, so we decided to do a ‘hop on, hop off bus tour’. You can buy a ticket for $40 and it’s valid for two days but with a tour of Alcatraz Island included costs about $80. The bus tour begins down at Pier 39 and stops at tourist destinations where you can get off or back on a bus. The buses arrive around every 30 minutes at each stop.
During the bus tour we passed the city’s famous cable cars. To be honest tourists mainly use the cable cars and you have to stand in a huge line. We decided to ride one anyway because they’re one of things San Francisco is known for. China Town is a very busy place, with exciting colors and a huge Chinese gate for its entrance. Of course shopping is an option and the best places are around Powell Street and Market Street, were you can also find the Westfield San Francisco Center with its many shops.
Be sure to book your ticket to Alcatraz as soon as you know you are going to San Francisco. The tickets for Alcatraz sell out very quickly and if you haven’t booked them in advance they are very expensive. Since we didn’t book them in advance we had to pay for the combo ticket of the bus tour and Alcatraz. These where the only tickets left but we still enjoyed the tour a lot.
Another place you shouldn’t miss is Pier 39 where you can eat fresh fish and see sea lions on the docks. Walking up the pier you can’t miss the Alcatraz landing which is located at Pier 33.
Alcatraz Island is an amazing place full of history. It is a former prison that was once the most secure of its time. Former prisoners include Robert Stroud also known as “The Birdman” and Al “Scarface” Capone. After arriving you can walk through the prison and the whole island, even visiting the places where the families of the guards once lived. It is truly great experience you can’t miss when you visit San Francisco.
Before leaving we visited the Golden Gate Bridge. We were lucky enough to take pictures of the bridge without it being covered in clouds, as it is most of the time.
After a very exciting week of travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco we returned to Orange County.
I-880/Nimitz Freeway at 16th Avenue
Oakland, CA 94606