Early last year, I moved to the Bay Area and found a job at a biotech startup. I was in my twenties, working on cutting edge technology in Silicon Valley, and San Francisco was before me Okay, I didn't actually live in San Francisco, but a train ride is no pretext for not getting out. It was the perfect setup for amazing experiences and I certainly had a good time - but I was often "busy with work." Looking back, I realize that I felt most inspired to see San Francisco when I was with tourists. I had friends from Australia visit me on two occasions, and hanging with them made me see the place differently. Also, it was the impending necessity of moving away from San Francisco that inspired me to fully explore it.
Summary: This was my last day in San Francisco before moving away for a PhD program, and I chose to spend it on Angel Island. I caught a ferry there and rented a bike to explore it's perimeter, about 5 miles of paved road. The uphill areas were taxing, but the downhill thrills made up for my struggles. Angel Island is often called the "Ellis Island of the West" because it used to be a processing center for Chinese immigrants, commemorated by the Immigration Station museum today. I caught the ferry back to Fisherman's Wharf in the afternoon, where I hung out for a bit and had some lunch/snacks. My day ended with Blue Bottle Coffee, a local Bay Area brand.
Summary: The Twin Peaks are two hills near the geographical center of San Francisco, and and their summits are the second highest points in the city after Mount Davidson. Due to their high elevation, views of the city are great from the tops of these hills. I hiked to the summit of the Twin Peaks from the Castro neighborhood, which was about 1.6 miles one way and involving steep uphill climbs. The summit was windy, cold, and foggy, and all pictures I took from there were during random bouts of clearness. After hiking, I went to Bi-Rite Creamery in Dolores Park and then Alamo Square Park where The Painted Ladies are. At the end of this post, I also write some tips for doing this hike to Twin Peaks.
Summary: I decided to become a tourist in San Francisco with Sian, who was visiting from Australia, and this involved biking across the Golden Gate Bridge. Like most San Francisco residents I've seen the bridge several times, but this was my first time biking it. We took the San Francisco Cable Car - also a first for me - up to Fisherman's Wharf where we rented bikes. From there we rode through Crissy Field to get to the Golden Gate Bridge, and crossed it to arrive in Sausalito. After eating and shopping in Sausalito, we caught the ferry back to Fisherman's Wharf for a little more sightseeing.
Summary: My dad and I briefly explored the Marin Headlands, a beautiful mountainous area really close to downtown San Francisco. Many people bike or hike here, but we only briefly explored it by car. The views of the Golden Gate Bridge were nice, with the top tip hidden in fog but the rest still visible. After Marin Headlands we ate lunch in Sausalito, a gorgeous sunny suburb situated on the San Francisco Bay.
Summary: This day consisted of several reunions for me, as friends I hadn't seen in a while all congregated in San Francisco! In the morning, I met up with two friends from high school, and in the afternoon, my flatmate who I used to live with in Australia joined us. We basically drove around and hit some relatively non-touristy sites in San Francisco (keyword - "some" and "relatively"), which included: Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market, The Embarcadero, Lombard Street, Palace of Fine Arts, The Marina, Ocean Beach, Sutro Baths, Moscow & Tbilisi Bakery Store, Dolores Park with Bi-Rite Creamery, and The Painted Ladies.