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San Francisco Notes

San Francisco is the city where you will never run out of new things to do. 

Quick Facts

  • State: California
  • Population: 852,000
  • SF Bay Area Population: 7 Million
  • Name Before 1846: Yerba Buena (Good Herb)
  • Home to the largest Chinatown outside of Asia
  • Nicknames: SF, The City by the Bay, The Golden City

Golden Gate Bridge

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Starting with an ultimate San Francisco classic.

SF History 101: Where does the name of Golden Gate Bridge come from? Two years before the Gold Rush, in 1846, Captain John Fremont declared California’s independence from Mexico, and named the entrance to San Francisco Bay as “Chrysopylae” which means “golden gate” in Greek.

The bridge, opened to traffic in May 1937, has a total length of 1.7 miles – or 2.7 kilometers. The consulting architect, Irving Morrow, was inspired by the color of the primer dye, and wanted the bridge to remain in its famous color “International Orange”.

There are many places to view the bridge, but I think, and as you will figure out after seeing the line of tourists, Battery Park is the place to take the best Golden Gate photographs.

Coit Tower

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Coit Tower, also known as Lillian Coit Memorial, in San Francisco has one of the best panoramic views of the city. Though on some days the fog completely covers the bay (like in the photo), the scene is always spectacular.

Boudin Bakery

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Yes! You can actually eat these little crocodiles and turtles.

Boudin has several branches around SF. Among them, my favourite is Boudin at the Fisherman’s Wharf. The cute animal-shaped breads draw you inside, but there is certainly more than bread at Boudin. You can find hundreds of baking tools and books at here. Worth a visit if you’re looking for a souvenir for an amateur pastry chef!

Pier 39 

fishermans wharf sunset

You can visit Pier 39 just to watch the sea lions on K-Dock. 

Seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf 

You can eat the best seafood dishes in California at the famous Fisherman’s Wharf. There isn’t one “best” time to eat at the wharf as there are plenty of fancy and casual alternatives. Combining your lunch/dinner with the Boudin visit is also a good idea. 

SF Chinatown

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SF Chinatown is the largest one outside of Asia in terms of population. It’s easily distinguished from other US Chinatowns by its large area, authentic restaurants and huge shops.

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Lombard Street

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Photo: SanFranciscoTravel
Lombard Street on Russian Hill is famous for its crookedness and its traffic. Arriving on Hyde Street – by car or cable car – and taking photos while walking along Lombard Street is probably the best way to avoid the traffic.

Chocolate Store

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It is really hard to resist the chocolate candies inside SF Chocolate Store. 

Cable Cars

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Riding a cable car is one of the most entertaining ways to explore the city.

How to Pay? You can either pay with cash to the conductor or purchase tickets or visitor passports online.

Painted Ladies

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Photo: SanFranciscoTravel
I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said these Victorian-style houses are the most beautiful -and the most frequently photographed- ones in the city.

Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks are the two hills located at the center of the city. If you’re wondering where you can find the best panoramic views of SF, here is your answer. 

Silicon Valley & Google Campus

Silicon Valley is a 1-hour drive from downtown SF. Even if you aren’t interested in visiting technology firms (I know having an interest like that sounds weird), you should give Google Campus a try. 

Sausalito

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Sausalito is a small city in San Francisco Bay Area. You can get to the city by ferry or by car from downtown SF. It’s ideal for a weekend trip if you are in Bay Area. You can hire a bicycle and see the whole town in a few hours. At first glance, Sausalito seems like an Italian lake district with colorful houses, many European restaurants and great gelato.

Japanese Tea Garden 

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Japanese Tea Garden is located inside Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. There is also a Japanese Tea House at the center of the garden.

Shopping in San Francisco

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The shopping districts of San Francisco are home to many international designer brands as well as American stores. Union Square (Macy’s), SoMa, and Haight are a few of these districts that first-timers should visit. 

Treasure Island

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Treasure Island is an artifical island between San Francisco and Oakland. It was built for Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939. Popular activities to do on the island are wine tasting, visiting Treasure Island Museum, going on a picnic at Clipper Cove, paddle-boarding (and other  water sports). 

Chronicle Wine Competition

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The best event to attend in SF if you like wine tasting! San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (SFCWC) is the largest competition of American wines. In February 2017, there were around 7,000 entries, and more than 800 wineries were represented at the public tasting event.

You can find more information on the competition and purchase tickets on winejudging.com.

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