Charlie Bond hand-picks the best things to see, do, eat and drink in this iconic Californian city…
If you want to stay in the midst of the action, then you can’t go far wrong booking somewhere around Union Square. Located in Downtown San Francisco, the area is a vibrant hub of restaurants, bars, shops and culture.
For an oasis in a busy city centre, stay at the Hilton Union Square. The rooms are modern and chic, with ﬂat screen TVs, beautiful bathrooms and cloud-like beds. Seriously, you won’t want to come home.
Book a skyline view corner suite, which offers unparalleled views over the city. Waking up to the stunning scenes below is just incredible, and you can also relax on the balcony surrounded by some of San Francisco’s most iconic landmarks. www3.hilton.com
There’s no better way to explore the beautiful city than by cycling, and riding over the Golden Gate Bridge is a bucket list must. Hire your bikes from Bay City Bikes in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, and follow a self-guided map all the way over the bridge and into Sausalito on the other side. Allow a few hours to complete the journey (which is about eight miles) – you’ll want to stop and take lots of pictures en route.
San Francisco is a foodie’s dream, and with so many amazing eateries and culinary options, you really will be spoiled for choice. If Mexican food is your thing, then take a trip to the Mission District – it’s packed with cool, authentic eateries, like Tacolicious, where the tacos are, you guessed it, delicious. Try the baja-style paciﬁc cod taco – you won’t be disappointed.
A San Franciscan delicacy is the sourdough bread they make here, and a visit to Boudin Bakery is a must. Not only can you see the bakers creating the bread at the Fisherman’s Wharf ﬂagship, you can also dine in the café or restaurant and taste it for yourself. The clam chowder or chilli con carne in a bread bowl is to die for.
For sweet treats, San Francisco is also famed for its chocolate. Just down from Fisherman’s Wharf you’ll ﬁnd Ghirardelli Square where the confectionery is created. The whole area smells divine and as well as picking up gifts to take home (or eat before you leave…), there are delicious ice cream sundaes and desserts you can indulge in too. www.ghirardelli.com
San Francisco boasts some fantastic wines, and the best way to enjoy them is watching the sun set from up high. Cityscape is on the 46th ﬂoor of the Hilton Union Square and boasts unobstructed 360-degree views of the city skyline and Golden Gate Bridge. Try the Chardonnay from nearby Sonoma while looking out over the city – an amazing experience.
Just a short stroll from Union Square you’ll ﬁnd the very cool Thirsty Bear. San Francisco’s ﬁrst and only organic brewery, they offer a wide selection of carefully crafted beers. Try the California Common – an indigenous amber larger with a refreshing taste, or the Howard Street IPA. www.thirstybear.com
One of the iconic sights in San Francisco is the cable car – the world’s last manually operated cable car system. While the routes don’t cover the entire city, they’re a convenient and fun way to get to destinations like Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf. San Francisco is hilly, so take the weight off your feet and hop on a cable car instead.
If you’re planning to visit a few of the tourist attractions in the city, then invest in a San Francisco CityPass. This gives you unlimited cable car rides and Muni bus transport access, as well as entry to a number of places including Aquarium of the Bay at Fisherman’s Wharf.
Depart from Pier 33 and take a boat trip over to Alcatraz Island. The former federal prison which is located there is a truly fascinating place to explore, and an excellent audio tour gives a real insight into the prisoners’ lives (and escape attempts)! while on the island. The ferry there and back also offers some great views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge.
No trip to San Francisco is complete without a visit to Pier 39, where as well as an array of shops and eateries, you’ll also ﬁnd sea lions basking on decking. You’ll hear them before you see them, and they’re certainly a way to keep the whole family entertained.
The Painted Ladies are a row of Victorian and Edwardian houses by Alamo Square, individually painted in bright colours. This is one of the most photographed streets in San Francisco, partly because of the iconic buildings, and partly because of the amazing cityscape you can see behind them.
If you thought British country lanes were winding, then you’ve seen nothing yet. Lombard Street offers some great views over the city, but is also the most curved road in the world with eight hairpin turns. The ‘wiggly’ section is situated on Russian Hill – walk up one way and down the other to get great photos from both
ends of the street.