Sunday, August 31, 2008

SuperAlto's Walking Tour of San Francisco

M & B have been wanting to ride the cable cars for a while now, so we decided to have a mini-vacation today. The itinerary I came up with worked pretty well, so I thought I'd share it (in case any of my readers ever want to try it). Things we didn't do today (but have done in the past or looked interesting) are in brackets [].

First, we drove to San Francisco, and parked in the Sutter-Stockton Garage. Sundays are cheaper than the rest of the week--three or more hours is only $7.50. When you exit the garage, take the elevator down to Level 2, and take the pedestrian exit on Bush Street (past the motorcycle parking area).

Turn right on Bush St.

Take the next left onto Grant Ave. This takes you through the main tourist area of Chinatown, and continues on to North Beach (Little Italy).
[If you're hungry for either Chinese or Italian food, these are good places to stop for lunch.]

Bear left onto Columbus Ave.
[As you cross Vallejo St., you'll pass The National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, established in 1849.]

Turn right onto Stockton St.
[After you pass Washington Square, you can turn left onto Filbert St. to visit Saints Peter and Paul Church, founded in 1884.]
[Or, you can turn right onto Filbert, and follow the signs to Coit Tower for a nice view of the city.]

Continue down Stockton St. until you reach the waterfront. There are a number of things you can try here:
  • Check out the touristy shops & carousel at Pier 39

  • View the sea lions at Pier 39 (Hint: don't go down the tourist part of the pier: instead, go down the wooden pier that parallels it on the left, towards the little lighthouse with the palm trees.)

  • [If the weather's warm, don't bother waiting in line at the Ben & Jerry's you'll see by Pier 41. There's another one further down Jefferson St. that has much shorter lines.]

  • For the classic lunch of clam chowder in a bread bowl, head west along the waterfront, past Pier 43 1/2, until you reach Fisherman's Wharf (at Taylor St.) We dined at Nick's Lighthouse, and enjoyed our lunch, but the other restaurants and stands looked just as good.

  • [For burger lovers, there's an In-N-Out Burger on Jefferson St., between Jones & Leavenworth.]

  • [For the world's best chocolate milkshakes (and possibly the world's longest line for ice cream), Ghirardelli Square is the place to go. Continue along Jefferson until it ends, turn left through Aquatic Park, and cross Beach St.]

To return to your car, make your way to the cable car turnaround at Hyde St. & Beach St. Look at the long line of people buying tickets and waiting to get on the cable cars. Ignore all of them, and walk a couple of blocks up Hyde St. You'll see brown "Cable Car Stop" signs along the street. Pick one (not the first one, if there are already lots of people waiting), and flag down the cable car when it comes by. Have $5 ready when the conductor asks for your ticket. Get off at the end of the line (or a little before, if you want to walk around some more).

[Union Square has lots of upscale shopping--I always like window shopping there, but I usually don't buy too much stuff. DH likes the Apple Store at Stockton & Market.]

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