Over Labor Day weekend my husband, dog, and I took a road trip from L.A. to San Francisco. We hadn’t been back since moving to California. If you don’t know, it’s about a 6-7 hour drive. I’ve been several times but this was only my husband’s second time, so we wanted to make the most of it. And we did. We accomplished so much in the span of a 3 day weekend. If you want to see previous posts, I will link them HERE and HERE. I’m going to talk about all of the things we were able to do, in case you are planning a trip. I really don’t think San Francisco requires that much time to see a lot of it. 2-3 days would be perfect. But first, here are a few things we didn’t have time for that I’d like to check out in the future: a boat tour under the bridge or Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Lands End for hiking, The Walt Disney Family Museum, Balmy Alley, and Lincoln Park Steps.
Palace of Fine Arts
I’ve wanted to come here for so long. It’s just a theatre and venue-type park. You can walk around the park area for free. It’s a nice photo or picnic spot and dogs are allowed. The dome building is absolutely massive. I had no idea it would be so large. I was actually my favorite thing that we did on this trip.
This park is a small hilltop park that has a great view of the city. It was foggy that day but I’m pretty sure you can even see the Golden Gate bridge. Surrounding the park are several mosaic staircases. The two that we visited are 16th Ave. Tiled Steps and a bit further away are the Hidden Garden Steps. We drank our coffee at the top. We went to Peet’s Coffee for the first time. I got a maple latte, which was delicious.
Pier 39 is a very touristy location in San Fran and generally I would say you should probably avoid it, but I think it’s good to visit at least once. It’s a long pier with a bunch of shops and restaurants on the inside area. At the end is where the sea lions hang out. It’s very popular to just go there and watch them. Having lived in California for almost 4 years not, it’s not as exciting to see sea lions as it once was but it was still a fun experience. There are public restrooms on the pier as well. I know they can be difficult to find when exploring a city. Also, you may want to go early to avoid crowds and pay less in parking. For our entire trip we only paid a total of $1.50 for parking. The meters here are like $0.75 per hour in the morning and then it goes up to like $9.00 per hour later on.
The Painted Ladies is that super famous row of colorful houses that you see all over Instagram and appears in the opening of Full House. You can see them from Alamo Square Park. Although I’m actually not that huge of a fan of the houses themselves the park is really nice and the area is surrounded by beautiful historic buildings. I just feel like there are more beautiful victorian houses in that area than the Painted Ladies. Don’t get me wrong, I like them but I feel like there are other better ones nearby. Just keep an eye out for every unique house in the area.
Another super famous spot in San Francisco, Lombard Street is the curvy street. I’ve been a few times but my husband wanted to see it. I’m so glad we went back because this time we were able to walk the paths on the sides and drive down. There is such a good view from the top and very pretty buildings. We went super early in the morning and there were hardly any other cars.
If you are on the lookout for some pizza or gelato be sure to stop by Little Italy. It’s always a struggle to find good pizza in LA so we are always on the hunt. We got pizza at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. It was very good. We took it to Washington Square Park to sit in the grass and eat. It’s next to this beautiful church.
This sneaky trail is tucked away at the Presidio. It’s kind of hard to find but it’s worth a stop if you have time. The super tall, skinny trees and windy path look like they are straight out of a fairytale.
Visiting Chinatown was my other favorite thing on this trip. I remember getting a glimpse of it as a kid and have always wanted to go back. I heard that this is the first Chinatown in the U.S. It’s pretty large compared to other ones and has many interesting buildings. Despite my face in this photo, I was having a really good time, haha. The sun was so bright. We got boba and fortune cookies in Ross Alley.
Of course it’s necessary to stop by one of the many Golden Gate viewpoints. There are honestly a ton and it really doesn’t matter too much which one you choose. This trip was super foggy so we didn’t get any great views. It’s fine though because every other time I’ve been it was clear. You can drive over the bridge to the viewpoints over there but you have to pay a toll. I think those are worth a stop though because they are my favorite.