Two weeks ago, we were in San Francisco for a business retreat (more coming on this next week!). Prior to the retreat, we spent two days for personal travel and site-seeing in the city! Last summer, we spent just over 24 hours in San Francisco during the California Coast Road Trip we took with my parents and sister, but since that isn’t very much time (at all!), we were excited to spend a bit more time exploring and checking out parts of the city that we didn’t have a chance to see previously!
The biggest “must-see” on our list was touring Alcatraz. We wanted to do this last time we were in San Francisco, but tickets were sold out well in advance of our arrival and we weren’t able to take the tour. This time around, we booked our tickets as soon as we know the exact dates we were going to be in SF — a couple of months prior to our trip. While I don’t think it’s necessary to book months out, the tours do book up VERY quickly and the sooner you can get tickets, the better in my opinion!
On the way to the island, you get such spectacular views of the city! I was not expecting this and it only added to the whole experience!
Did you know that Alcatraz — or “The Rock” as they call it — is now a National Park?
The main cell house is all the way at the top of the island. We did a lot of exploring prior to even getting to the top — there is just so much to see! We would definitely recommend a minimum of 3 hours to explore the whole island! I would also highly recommend going on a morning tour — MUCH less crowded than the afternoon or highly famous night tour!
Part of the island is actually a seagull sanctuary! SO many birds!
Beautiful views from all sides — this one is the Golden Gate Bridge!
iPhone panorama of the city and the Golden Gate from the island!
Because of the Mediterranean climate on the island, succulents grow like crazy here! How awesome (and gigantic!) are these?! All of the gardens on the island are maintained by volunteers.
The audio tour, available once you get inside the main cell house, was my favorite part of the entire experience! There are SO many unique facts and stories about “The Rock” — you will just have to go and listen for yourself ; )
(Yes, those are bullet holes on the fire hose …)
Solitary confinement cells (on the left) and how one inmate rigged a tool to get out of his cell for the Battle of Alcatraz in 1946 (on the right).
Taking a CELLfie (on the right) ; )
As far as the remainder of our two days of personal vacation-ing:
Eats — in general, we recommend eating away from the Fisherman’s Wharf area as prices are a bit more reasonable! These were a few of our favorites this time around :
- Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream (inside the Ferry Building)
- Tres — Tequila Lounge and Mexican Kitchen
- Tipsy Pig — Gastro Pub
- Fisherman’s Wharf — very touristy area with shops and restaurants, but worth a stop if you’re in the city; would highly recommend stopping by Boudin Bakery, famous for San Franciscan Sourdough
- Ghirardelli Square — Ghirardelli chocolate, need we say more?
- Shopping at Union Square and Market Street
- Golden Gate Park
- Lombard Street
- Painted Ladies
- Walk around and enjoy the city! There is so much to see and explore — just be sure to bring your tennis’! : )
Exploring with some of our friends, Ryan and Erica of Pure 7 Studios in Destin, FL! We LOVE these two so much!!
And just a few more iPhone pics to wrap things up : )
Lots of protests happening while we were visiting!
Since SF is SO hilly, there are lots of tunnels (on the left) and crazy road conditions! I told one of the Uber drivers, “Thank goodness you don’t have winter and ICE here!!!” — yikes!
And finally, Chinatown : )
If you have any questions about our trip, please leave them in the comments below!