San Francisco is one of my favorite cities in the world. With marching band season starting for my oldest daughter and every weekend for the next four months booked up, we decided to take a quick weekend trip to The City by the Bay and see how many things we could fit in. Catching a quick flight out of Burbank on Saturday morning and returning Sunday evening would give us just over 36 hours. Our goal was to see as much of this beautiful city as possible.
Golden Gate Bridge
Of course, this would be our first stop in San Francisco. No trip would be complete without seeing this iconic landmark. After spending a little time at the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center, we walked about a third of the way across the bridge and then finished up grabbing some awesome photos at Fort Point Rock.
Muir Wood National Monument
Seeing the Redwoods has been at the top of my bucket list since I was small. Muir Woods National Monument is just a short coastal drive of less than an hour from downtown San Francisco, over the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge, and through the scenic Marin Headland Hills. We spent several hours walking along the wooden paths seeing some of the oldest and tallest trees in the country. The paths take you along both sides of a creek through the redwoods and several bridges allow you to easily set your walk distance. The trails are fairly level and wheelchair-accessible. Note that there isn’t much parking at the park entrance and most people park along the should of Main Trail Rd. I dropped my family off at the park entrance and would up driving almost three miles away from the park before turning around. Luckily I found someone leaving the shoulder parking only about a mile and a half away.
Day two started with us heading to Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf. With an almost carnival-like atmosphere, Fisherman’s Wharf is chock full of souvenir shops, numerous seafood restaurants and tourist attractions such as the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum and the Aquarium of the Bay. You can grab a ferry out to Alcatraz and see some great views of the Golden Gate. Be prepared for crowds as this is the most-visited spot in San Francisco.
A short walk from Fisherman’s Wharf is Ghirardelli Square. A large, former chocolate factory that is now little more than a chocolate store and eatery, this is where you’ll find the best chocolate made in America. There is a ton of interesting architecture and the majority of the factory has been converted into shops that I honestly can’t remember. But, the chocolate store and ice cream parlor are well worth a visit.
Mission Delores Park
With some time to kill before heading to the airport, we decided to take a friend’s advice and check out the city views from Mission Delores Park. One of the most popular parks in San Francisco, and given this was a Sunday afternoon, the park was absolutely full of people laying out on blankets and playing frisbee. Located on a hilltop, you get stunning views of the city.
Our last stop and another icon of San Francisco is the Painted Ladies. The Painted Ladies are seven colorful Victorian and Edwardian houses that you may remember from the television show full house. There is a small park across the street that allows you a great vantage point for photos.