Fact: I have one of the tiniest bladders you will ever come across.
On road trips, I get very excited if I can make it an hour without having to stop. This makes traveling a little difficult, especially when I am going someplace I’ve never been.
This year I made my first solo trip: a three day vacation in San Francisco. Between stressing over where the nearest restroom was and always looking for a place to charge my phone, I was still able to see much of what the city has to offer. Here is what I did in my three days in The City:
I landed at the San Francisco International Airport and took a Lyft to…
1. Mission Dolores Park
At my first stop, I had already begun to notice that this city is a little hilly. I definitely got my leg days in! I Yelped for a coffee shop and found the cutest little hipster-esque place with a real coffee press and everything! Of course the coffee was a little strong for my taste but I asked for some extra milk and simple sugar and sipped away like a pro as I walked those killer hills. When I reached the park itself, I grabbed a park bench and just took in the view. From here you can see the entire city and, trust me, there was no better way to start my trip than this. After walking around the park for a bit, I took an Uber to…
2. Union Square
As soon as I landed, I noticed that I had forgotten to pack two very important things: sunglasses and a bra. Now, I was not going braless guys, I was wearing a sports bra that day because I went with a casual comfy look. But I knew I needed a regular one for the rest of my trip. That being said, I needed to find a store (or stores). Once I got to Union Square I found a Sunglass Hut and a Victoria’s Secret. Perfect! Done and done. There were quite a few shops and restaurants thru here, including a couple of Starbucks and a lovely hotel where you can use their restroom and charge your phone at a table for free. Score! While exploring this little area, I found a Hop On/ Hop Off bus tour. For $40 you could ride as much as you want all day and stop at all the little scenic things in the city. Since it was my first time here, I took them up on this offer. This was how I learned the lay of the land and was able to plan the rest of my trip. I rode the bus through the loop once, then got back on and hopped off at the locations where I wanted to spend more time. My first “hop off” was….
3. Golden Gate Park
This park is huge and I only got to explore a tiny bit of it. I walked around the Japanese Tea Garden, the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences. The latter really intrigued me (and I had to use the restroom super bad at this point) so I spent a little more time in there. I was very interested in the indoor rain forest. There were several levels to this and you experienced a different part of the rain forest on each level. At the top, there were beautiful butterflies that would just casually land on you. It was like being in a Disney movie. Atop the building itself is the luscious living roof, which looks like rolling hills with solar panels. After exploring a little further, I took the bus to…
4. Alamo Square
This is where my Airbnb was located and, since the Painted Ladies were nearby, it was considered a scenic stop for the Hop On/ Hop Off tour. Win! For some reason, this was the first time I actually became hungry. Scratch that, I was suddenly ravenous. Maybe it was all the walking? I’m not sure, but your girl found a Popeye’s and had a great time. After some spicy popcorn shrimp and a honey biscuit, I made my way to my room for the night.
I found another cutesy coffee shop, grabbed some overpriced joe, and took an Uber to…
1. Pier 39 / Fisherman’s Wharf
So.Much.To.See. I walked around for quite a bit here. I was able to see the infamous sea lions but boy, did they smell… There were also a lot of neat little stores like a place to purchase oysters in hopes of finding pearls and a store for left handed people. I also stopped at a restaurant there and had some delicious clam chowder. I saw those self-cleaning bathrooms everyone raves about, but I settled for a nice old fashioned regular toilet instead. From here I took a ferry to …
This was my absolute favorite place during the entire trip. I booked my ticket a month in advance and I am so glad I did: they were sold out for the next two weeks when I was there! Once we arrived on the island, a park ranger told us about a side of Alcatraz I had never known: the occupation of the indigenous people during the 60s. It was an amazing story of their stand during the civil rights movement, and you could see evidence of their occupation while you walked around the island. While here, I did my best to avoid the crowds. In a way, I wanted to experience the prison the way the prisoners had. I imagined being confined to those dark walls, yet being able to see the freedom of the city at night out your window. Just think of how tortuous that would be! I loved that it wasn’t repainted or touched up - it was the dirty dingy prison that it once was, and it made the experience seem that much more real. I took the ferry back across the frigid waters to the city and then took an Uber back to my room.
After a shower and a nice little nap, I walked to…
3. The Haight - Ashbury District
Saying this place is funky would be an understatement. I passed this place on the bus tour and saw all the neon lights and 60s vibe flowers and peace signs and figured I should experience the hippie side of the city. This was the only place where I felt uncomfortable traveling alone. It is a very busy street with lots of friendly and inviting people. There are a few bars and restaurants and it looked like a fun place to hang out - if you were in a group. For a single female traveler - not the best idea. After a few incidents and unwanted invitations later, I fast-walked back to my room and called it a night.
I bid goodbye to my roomie of the past two days and took an Uber to…
1. Crissy Field Center
This beach has killer views of the Golden Gate Bridge. I walked along side the ocean for a bit, then traded the sand for pavement as there is a nice walking trail that leads towards the bridge itself. It is a long walk but definitely worth it. The pavement turns to grass, then I crossed the street and climbed a set of wooden stairs up the side of a hill (luckily, before crossing this street, I noticed a little picnic area with multiple restrooms). I climbed to the top to see a breathtaking view of the Bridge. Now, the weather in San Francisco is pretty odd, as you might have heard. From the beach, I took a foggy picture of the bridge. As I got closer, I was able to capture a more sunny - looking picture of the bridge and, once at the top of the hill, I captured another foggy image - all taken within 30 minutes of each other. After heading back down the hill, I walked to…
2. The Palace of Fine Arts
This building looks like a temple from an Indiana Jones movie. The palace is such a stunning piece of architecture: I felt drawn to it. I rested in the grass under a tree in front of the palace for a few minutes and just enjoyed my surroundings. After a little while, I felt the need for some caffeine. So I Yelped a Starbucks which took me to Presidio Park, then I grabbed an Uber to...
3. Little Italy / Chinatown
This area is pretty interesting because you can go from Italian restaurants to Chinese lanterns real quick. In Little Italy, I went inside a beautiful Catholic cathedral that was playing soft, angelic choir music. The sanctuary was so calm and peaceful as opposed to the streets right outside its doors. In Chinatown, there are many shops and restaurants, and I saw a group of old men gambling in a park. In the midst of it all, there is a two-story bookstore that has novels from around the globe as well as from local authors. I sat upstairs by an outlet and charged my phone while reading a book of slam poetry by a San Francisco native about civil rights. After my phone charged, I met up with a friend at an authentic Italian restaurant, had some spaghetti and meatballs, and took an Uber to the airport. Trip done.
If you have never done so, I recommend you to take at least one solo trip in your life. I felt that, since I was by myself, I was able to truly take in my surroundings and enjoy experiencing each and every place I visited. I did not feel rushed or that I absolutely had to see something on this trip. I kind of just let what ever happened, happen (and I didn’t feel guilty about the many bathroom breaks).