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Andri Kristinsson
Andri Kristinsson

Andri's Ultimate Guide to San Francisco

I lived in the Bay Area for 6 years and loooove the city of San Francisco and the Bay Area - how can you not! In this Wanderguide I have collected some of my favorite things to do and see along with my go-to restaurants and best spots for hiking. Enjoy!

Top Things to Do

These are some of the top things I recommend for people visiting San Francisco for the first time.

Image - Golden Gate Bridge
Andri :

My favorite way to explore the Golden Gate is to rent a bike and bike across the bridge over to Sausalito where you can take a ferry back!

Image - Alcatraz Island
Andri :

Seeing the Alcatraz Island prison is actually pretty amazing. Make sure to book your trip in advance as it sells out weeks in advance.

Image - Mission Dolores Park
Andri :

One of my favorite things to do in SF as a local. Spend a sunny day hanging out people watching in Dolores park. Bring some drinks & snacks!

Image - Ferry Building
Andri :

Stroll around the farmers market in the Ferry Building to get a taste of some mouth-watering local gourmet products!

Image - Coit Tower
Andri :

For stunning views of the city, walk up the approx 600 steps to the top of Coit Tower - no elevator so get ready for a light workout :)

Image - The San Francisco Cable Car
Andri :

Probably the most touristy thing to do in San Francisco... but hey, it's still pretty fun to do if you haven't been on one before

The Great Outdoors

Within a day drive from San Francisco you can find some of the best national parks and nature reservation areas in the world such as Yosemite, the Sierra mountain range and Sequoia. Here are some of my favorite places to visit. You could easily spend multiple days visiting each one of these places.

Image - Half Dome
Andri :

One of my all-time favorite hikes (globally). Not for people with fear of heights! Book permit through the lottery in advance.

Image - Yosemite Valley
Andri :

This national park is very popular for a good reason - stunning scenery and great hiking options. Book accommodation in advance.

Image - Hetch Hetchy Reservoir
Andri :

If you want to explore the more remote parts of Yosemite, I highly recommend Hetch Hetchy. Some great multi-day backpacking trails.

Image - Kings Canyon National Park
Andri :

Another spectacular national park in the Sierra mountain range. Awesome for camping and multi-day hiking.

Image - Sequoia National Park
Andri :

Yet another awesome national park near the Sierras where you can hug (or try!) some of the largest trees in the world - the giant Sequoias.

Image - Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Andri :

Drive town the historical highway 1 and enjoy the scenery and nature of the Big Sur State Park.

For Foodies

The list of amazing places for foodies in San Francisco could become a VERY long one... So just to get you started, here are some of my favorite places to wine and dine in San Francisco, ranging from must-try touristy spots to hidden hole-in-the-wall gems.

Image - Liholiho Yacht Club
Andri :

Awesome food, make sure to book in advance since they are very popular now.

Image - 1760
Place
1760
Andri :

I'm biased since I lived just around the corner... so this became my go-to spot for cocktails and great food.

Image - Mymy
Place
Mymy
Andri :

Top notch brunch place. It is really small so expect to stand in line for a table during the weekends. They don't take reservations.

Image - The Gastropig
Andri :

Hole-in-the-wall brunch place for bacon lovers! Every weekend me and my co-founder would reward ourselves with the Baconslut :)

Image - Amelie
Place
Amelie
Andri :

Great little French wine bar

Image - Bourbon & Branch
Andri :

Prohibition era themed bar, great for cocktails. You need to book your table and get your secret password to get in!

Image - Contraband Coffee Bar
Andri :

My local coffeeshop. If you are really looking for people with mustaches to serve you coffee, this is it :D

Image - Saison
Place
Saison
Andri :

The best restaurant I have dined at. Period. Three star Michelin place, better than the French Laundry.

Image - Benu
Place
Benu
Andri :

Another great Michelin starred restaurant. Fine dining with Asian fusion theme.

Image - Tartine Bakery
Andri :

Probably the most famous bakery in SF. Almost always a line out of the door.

Image - Lolinda
Place
Lolinda
Andri :

Lolinda has some great steaks and food overall.

Image - Philz Coffee
Andri :

Forget Starbucks or any other coffee chain. In San Francisco you go with Philz.

Hiking in the Bay Area

Here is a list of a few of my favorite hiking spots in and around San Francisco Bay Area.

Image - Mount Tamalpais State Park
Andri :

One of my favorite day hikes. Do the Matt Davis-Steep Ravine Loop starting from Stinson Beach and end your day with a drink at the beach

Image - Stanford Dish Hiking Trailhead
Andri :

My go-to running and hiking trail while I studied at Stanford

Image - Twin Peaks
Andri :

Great little hike right in the city with stunning views on a good day!

Image - Angel Island
Andri :

Take the ferry from Pier 41/39 to Angel Island and do this easy hike to the top for spectacular views of the city.

Image - Castle Rock State Park
Andri :

Awesome park with plenty of options for day hikes as well as multi-day camping. Popular area for rock-climbers.

Image - Bay Area Hiking Trails
Blog
Bay Area Hiker: Best Hiking Trails in the Bay Area
Andri :

My go-to website for hiking in the Bay Area with tons of options ranging from easy to difficult.

Day Trips from SF

Here are some of my favorite things to do within driving distance from San Francisco. Great options for a day trip or a weekend getaway.

Image - The Point Reyes Lighthouse Visitor Center
Andri :

Drive up north a couple of hours to visit Point Reyes, hike to the lighthouse and explore this beautiful area.

Image - Napa
Place
Napa
Andri :

The famous Napa Valley is a must-see if you are into wine tasting.

Image - Sonoma
Place
Sonoma
Andri :

Sonoma is the next-door neighbor of Napa Valley with some excellent wineries as well.

Image - Monterey Bay
Andri :

Hands down the best Aquarium I have visited. Also great for kayaking and just a beautiful small town!

Image - Tomales Bay
Andri :

Come here for Oyster season for some tasting!

Image - Half Moon Bay
Andri :

Only about an hour drive outside the city you can find stunning beaches, golf courses and more.

Neighborhoods, towns and places

The best way to experience San Francisco and the Bay Area is through its many small different neighborhoods and neighboring towns. Here are some of my favorite spots to hang out.

Image - Mission District
Andri :

One of my favorite neighborhoods. Great foods, lively culture and hip shops.

Image - Russian Hill
Andri :

My old neighborhood. You can find some great restaurants and bars on Polk and nearby streets.

Image - Marina District
Andri :

I love running by the waterfront through the Marina neighborhood. Lot of great restaurants and bars.

Image - Sausalito
Andri :

I love this little town. Bike or drive across the Golden Gate to find this little gem. Spend a few hours strolling around or grab a drink.

Image - Tiburon
Place
Tiburon
Andri :

If you want to know where all the local cyclist in the Bay Area stop for a drink, this is your place. Some great places to sit outside.

Image - Carmel-by-the-Sea
Andri :

Super cute upscale town by the highway 1 route on the Pacific coast.

Image - Lower Haight
Andri :

Historical neighborhood in San Francisco filled with small stores, restaurants and bars.

Image - Lake Merritt
Andri :

Oakland is where all the cool-kids hang out these days (I used to live there...). I love the neighborhood around Lake Merrit.

Image - Noe Valley
Andri :

Great neighborhood for families.

Image - SoMa
Place
SoMa
Andri :

This is where a lot of the large tech companies and startups are moving their headquarters. Busy during day but low-key in the evenings.

Image - Oracle Arena
Andri :

See the Golden State Warriors play at the Oracle Arena in Oakland.

Image - AT&T Park
Andri :

See the San Francisco Giants play Baseball at the ATT Park in SOMA (downtown SF)

Things NOT to do

Image - Fisherman's Wharf
Andri :

Overcrowded with tourists and crappy restaurants (sorry!). You will hardly find any locals hanging around Fisherman's Wharf.

Image - Union Square
Andri :

Union Square is great for shopping but definitely not my favorite place to hang around if the goal is to enjoy the local flavors of SF

Image - Tenderloin
Andri :

Unless you are looking for drugs and homeless people (sorry to be blunt)... I recommend taking a detour around the Tenderloin neighborhood.

Travelade places