11 amazing things to do in San Francisco

Sunday, 25 June 2017

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge

My first impression of San Francisco wasn’t the best one. It was cold. Windy. The streets were busy and there’s homeless people everywhere. We had to take the BART (which is the train system there) and it reminded me way too much of the Parisian metro. Did I mention how cold it was?

I have read that San Francisco is one of the most European-like cities in the United States. I guess I agree with that – it didn’t feel like 14 flight hours away from home. There’s public transportation that looks just like ours, it’s not as spacious as Los Angeles, and to me personally, it’s not as impressive as New York. Maybe that’s why I didn’t like it at first. Or maybe I just started looking in the wrong place.

San Francisco Ferry Building

We got to San Francisco in the late afternoon, thinking that we would just explore for a bit and find a place to eat. We first visited the Ferry Building, which is nice but didn’t impress us all that much.

San Francisco Chinatown

Chinatown is charming tough, and it’s historical, too, because it started developing in the 1850s.

San Francisco Chinatown

We then made it to the city centre around Powell station (again, nothing impressive here) and found a place to eat before going back to our AirBnb, a little disappointed.

San Francisco

I woke up the next morning with the determination to like San Francisco. I’ve heard only great things about it, so it couldn’t be that bad! So I started researching on Pinterest and travel blogs. Matt did, too. We then added some bits from our own USA bucket lists and came up with the following route:

Twin Peaks

San Francisco Twin Peaks

Ok, I admit we took the car, which made climbing up to the Twin Peaks viewpoint quite easy (you can find my 8 reasons to take the car in San Francisco here). It’s a quick stop, and it gives you a lovely view on San Francisco from above. It’s a great way to start your visit, even more so if the sun is shining!

Painted Ladies & surroundings

San Francisco Painted Ladies

San Francisco’s city centre looks a little like New York, but without the charm. But the rest of the city is totally different! I’m sure that everyone has seen pictures of those cute little houses with rounded facades - well, that’s basically what the rest of the streets look like. The Painted Ladies, a row of Victorian houses, are quite famous, but their surroundings are super pretty as well. It’s definitely worth strolling up and down the streets (literally).

San Francisco

Thrift shopping around Castro 

The Castro district is not far away from the Painted Ladies. You can tell straight away when you get there – just look out for those rainbow flags (they are everywhere). There are some cool second hand shops like Community Thrift or Mission Thrift there, and we made some nice finds (even Matt bought something, and he doesn’t even like thrift shopping)!

Japan town

San Francisco Japan Town

We hit Japan town at lunchtime, because we’re both huge fans of Japanese food (I literally eat it 3 times a week, at the very least). The food’s great and not too expensive, I can only recommend trying it out! Of course we only ate at one restaurant, but they all seem to have similar menus.
But even if you just want to visit, it’s worth a detour: it looks authentic, and there nice little shops everywhere. That’s where I found my newest obsession: the fidget cube!

Baker Beach

San Francisco Baker Beach

I was pleased to see that there is an actual beach in San Francisco! It’s nothing out of this world, but you get a lovely view on the Golden Gate Bridge. As you can see in the pictures, the good weather we had in the morning didn’t last very long!

Views on the Golden Gate Bridge / Presidio Park

The Presidio offers awesome views on the Golden Gate Bridge as well! There are tons of parking lots where you can stop, walk around and take some pictures. Or just stroll around the park that was once a U.S. Army military fort.

Lombard Street

San Francisco Lombard Street

Lombard Street is well known for its steep section with eight hairpin turns. You can see it from above or below, walk or drive down it. We drove down, behind a ton of cars whose drivers wanted to do the same thing (I felt a bit bad for the people who live there) – It’s quick but it’s really fun!

Fisherman’s Wharf

San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf

The fishermen’s wharf is mostly a shopping street near the sea with tons of different gift shops and restaurants. It’s a nice place for a walk, even if you’re not into gift shops: the ships and piers make for a peaceful scenery. Pier 39 is especially lively, with cafes and bars and (surprise) more gift shops.

San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf
San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf
San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf Pier 39

Cheesecake Factory

Cheesecake Factory

There’s no particular reason why we decided to try the Cheesecake Factory in San Francisco, but since we did, I’m including it in my list. It’s inside Macy’s and it’s super busy – we didn’t even try to find seats because there were approximately 150 people waiting to be seated already. So we just took our cheesecakes to go. They might be on the pricier side, but they are incredible! I ordered the Oreo cheesecake, and it honestly lasted me 2 days. And I can eat a lot of chocolate. So be sure to try one!

Giants game

Going to a baseball game was a spur of the moment decision – I saw that they were playing the next day and there were still tickets available, so I just booked. I didn’t know anything about baseball (I don’t feel like it’s a big thing in Germany or France), but I read through the basic rules before going. Games last around 2 or 3 hours, there’s food and drinks and I enjoyed the atmosphere a lot - and the Giants won, which was cool! I’d definitely recommend going to a game if you’re staying a couple of days.

Sonoma Sunflower Caffe 

Napa Valley

A lot of people on the internet recommend going to Napa Valley or Sonoma, but I honestly don’t see what that’s all about. Yeah, it’s pretty – but there’s not a lot of things to do. We drove up there and didn’t end up staying very long, because it looks just like another village we would find at home.

I have to give a quick mention to the Sunflower Caffe in Sonoma though – we randomly stepped in to taste some local wine and ended up getting food, too. It’s very calm and pretty there and the staff even offered us a cookie on the house!

Sonoma Sunflower Caffe

So here’s my list of things to do in San Francisco! Let me know what your favourite spots are. :)


  1. I love San Francisco, there is so much to do and see there. It is so cool that you went to see baseball game, I'd love to do that the next time I visit. Great Post

    1. Thank you, I'm glad you liked it! :) You'll have to let me know if you end up going to a game!

  2. Can't wait to explore San Frans~~♡


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