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!
These are some of the top things I recommend for people visiting San Francisco for the first time.
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!
Seeing the Alcatraz Island prison is actually pretty amazing. Make sure to book your trip in advance as it sells out weeks in advance.
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!
Stroll around the farmers market in the Ferry Building to get a taste of some mouth-watering local gourmet products!
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 :)
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
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.
One of my all-time favorite hikes (globally). Not for people with fear of heights! Book permit through the lottery in advance.
This national park is very popular for a good reason - stunning scenery and great hiking options. Book accommodation in advance.
If you want to explore the more remote parts of Yosemite, I highly recommend Hetch Hetchy. Some great multi-day backpacking trails.
Another spectacular national park in the Sierra mountain range. Awesome for camping and multi-day hiking.
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.
Drive town the historical highway 1 and enjoy the scenery and nature of the Big Sur State Park.
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.
Awesome food, make sure to book in advance since they are very popular now.
I'm biased since I lived just around the corner... so this became my go-to spot for cocktails and great food.
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.
Hole-in-the-wall brunch place for bacon lovers! Every weekend me and my co-founder would reward ourselves with the Baconslut :)
Great little French wine bar
Prohibition era themed bar, great for cocktails. You need to book your table and get your secret password to get in!
My local coffeeshop. If you are really looking for people with mustaches to serve you coffee, this is it :D
The best restaurant I have dined at. Period. Three star Michelin place, better than the French Laundry.
Another great Michelin starred restaurant. Fine dining with Asian fusion theme.
Probably the most famous bakery in SF. Almost always a line out of the door.
Lolinda has some great steaks and food overall.
Forget Starbucks or any other coffee chain. In San Francisco you go with Philz.
Here is a list of a few of my favorite hiking spots in and around San Francisco Bay Area.
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
My go-to running and hiking trail while I studied at Stanford
Great little hike right in the city with stunning views on a good day!
Take the ferry from Pier 41/39 to Angel Island and do this easy hike to the top for spectacular views of the city.
Awesome park with plenty of options for day hikes as well as multi-day camping. Popular area for rock-climbers.
My go-to website for hiking in the Bay Area with tons of options ranging from easy to difficult.
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.
Drive up north a couple of hours to visit Point Reyes, hike to the lighthouse and explore this beautiful area.
The famous Napa Valley is a must-see if you are into wine tasting.
Sonoma is the next-door neighbor of Napa Valley with some excellent wineries as well.
Hands down the best Aquarium I have visited. Also great for kayaking and just a beautiful small town!
Come here for Oyster season for some tasting!
Only about an hour drive outside the city you can find stunning beaches, golf courses and more.
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.
One of my favorite neighborhoods. Great foods, lively culture and hip shops.
My old neighborhood. You can find some great restaurants and bars on Polk and nearby streets.
I love running by the waterfront through the Marina neighborhood. Lot of great restaurants and bars.
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.
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.
Super cute upscale town by the highway 1 route on the Pacific coast.
Historical neighborhood in San Francisco filled with small stores, restaurants and bars.
Oakland is where all the cool-kids hang out these days (I used to live there...). I love the neighborhood around Lake Merrit.
Great neighborhood for families.
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.
See the Golden State Warriors play at the Oracle Arena in Oakland.
See the San Francisco Giants play Baseball at the ATT Park in SOMA (downtown SF)
Overcrowded with tourists and crappy restaurants (sorry!). You will hardly find any locals hanging around Fisherman's Wharf.
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
Unless you are looking for drugs and homeless people (sorry to be blunt)... I recommend taking a detour around the Tenderloin neighborhood.
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