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.

Time Spent Traveling: 9-10 hours
Mode of Transportation: Electric Bikes!!
Activity Level: Light, electric bikes make riding effortless, even when going uphill
Tour Operator: None, rented bikes from Blazing Saddles

ITINERARY (times are very approximate and meant to only roughly illustrate the pace)
1.) San Francisco Cable Car (10:15-10:45am)
After meeting Sian at her hotel, which was near Powell Street at Union Square, we caught the Cable Car up to Fisherman's Wharf.  Even this early in the morning, the Cable Cars were crowded with tourists and there were lines to get on.  One-way fare is also $6 while a singe bus ride on the MUNI is $2 - total tourist trap!  If there's room when you get on, you can stand on the side of the Cable Car and hold on to the railings, which seems to be popular with tourists.  
Note: There can be very long lines to get on the Cable Car, depending on the time of day and season.  
2.) Bike Ride Across the Golden Gate Bridge, from Fisherman's Wharf to Sausalito (11am-1:15pm)
Blazing Saddles has a few offices, we rented from:  2715 Hyde Street   San Francisco, CA 94109   (415) 202-8888
There was a bike rental place right by the Cable Car stop, called Blazing Saddles, so we went in because it was the first one we saw.  If you're anywhere in Fisherman's Wharf, it shouldn't be difficult to find a bike rental company as it's a heavy tourist area.  We decided to try electric bikes, with rental rates over twice as much as normal bikes, but they are DEFINITELY worth it if you have to ride uphill.  The ride to the Golden Gate Bridge contains a few steep hills, and it would have been quite strenuous without the extra help from electric power. 

Our ride started out in Fisherman's Wharf, where we found the bike path along the water.  It was a beautiful ride but the weather was cold and foggy, not uncommon for a morning in San Francisco.  Along the way were some nice views of Golden Gate Bridge, with the tips hidden behind fog.  Before the uphill ride to get to the bridge is Crissy Field, a marshland that used to be a US Army airfield, and now displays several steel statues.  
A little before 12pm, we arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge Strauss Plaza, which is the main tourist area at the south-east end of the bridge.  Here there are plenty of photo opportunities, a gift shop, a cafe, and some displays explaining the engineering concepts behind the bridge.  We went to Bridge Cafe where I ordered hot chocolate because it was cold and foggy, and also potato chips for a snack before lunch.  Bridge Cafe serves snacks and drinks but unfortunately no hot food if you're looking for a meal.  After the Bridge Cafe, we hung around Strauss Plaza for a while before continuing our ride.  
We continued riding onward and crossed the bridge, which had some nice views of San Francisco Bay.  Sausalito was in front of us, while downtown San Francisco was behind us.  Bikers and pedestrians share the path on the bridge so bikers need to be cautious, and power on electric bikes need to be turned off.  At the other end of the bridge, it was a short ride through a mountainous area near the edge of Marin Headlands before arriving in Sausalito.  
2.) Sausalito (1:15-3:30pm)
Piccolo Cafe:  660 Bridgeway     Sausalito, CA 94965     (415) 289-1195
Upon arriving we instantly noticed the lack of fog in Sausalito; the sky was blue and there was sun!  San Francisco fog generally clears in the afternoon, but Sausalito also gets less fog because it faces the Bay and not the Pacific Ocean, and the Marin Headlands mountains blocks the fog coming in from the Pacific Ocean.  There were quite a few bikers and all the bike parks seemed to be full, but we eventually found one with ample space after going further down the road.  We went to eat at Il Piccolo Cafe Specialita Italiane (the sign just says Piccolo Cafe), mostly because it had waterfront seating.  My pasta dish was good but nothing to rave about - if you're looking for a delicious meal I'd recommend The Spinmaker, which I talk about in another Sausalito trip.  The Spinmaker also has waterfront seating but it's inside and through a window.  Anyways, Piccolo Cafe is a nice place to get a quick bite and drink and enjoy some beautiful views, but not if you're looking for a nice dining experience.  Also, the outside waterfront seating can be extremely windy.  
After lunch we walked around Sausalito for a while, and Sian tried to find souvenirs for family and friends in Australia.  There were definitely many shops to choose from, many carrying San Francisco themed souvenirs.
After shopping, we rode around Sausalito and enjoyed the nice views before catching a ferry back to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco.  
3.) Ferry from Sausalito to Fisherman's Wharf (3:45-4:15pm)
When we rented our bikes at Blazing Saddles, they handed us ferry tickets back to Fisherman's Wharf from Sausalito, since that's a common thing for tourists to do.  The ferry tickets are good for any Sausalito-to-Fisherman's Wharf departure on the Blue and Gold Fleet, not to be confused with the Golden Gate Ferry.  The ferry ride back is beautiful, with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, Angel Island, Alcatraz Island, and Treasure Island.  There were several bikers on the ferry and the bikes piled up!
4.) Fisherman's Wharf (4:15-5:30pm)
Solve It! Think Out Of The Box:  Pier 39 Concourse  San Francisco, CA 94133     (415) 262-9924
Trish's Mini Donuts:   Pier 39 Concourse  San Francisco, CA 94133     (415) 981-4318
Ghirardelli Square:    900 North Point St   San Francisco, CA 94109     (415) 775-5500     
Before we returned our bikes we took a short walk around Fisherman's Wharf, sine the touristy area with all the shops is Pier 39 and the ferry drops off at nearby Pier 41.  Sian introduced me to a shop she'd seen the previous day and wanted to go back to, called Solve It! Think Out Of The Box, which sells 3D wooden puzzles.  Besides the unique puzzles, there's also a nice view of a marina out the back window.   
After Sian got some puzzles, we walked around Fisherman's Wharf and came upon Trish's Mini Donuts.  We split a bag of six donuts, the smallest portion you can get.  They were absolutely delicious, freshly made and still warm, with sugar sprinkled on top. 
After the donuts we left Fisherman's Wharf Pier 39 to return our bikes to Blazing Saddles, and Ghirardelli Square was close by.  We browsed the selection of Ghirardelli chocolates and received free samples of the caramel squares.  Besides the chocolate shops, the area is a shopping and dining center and sometimes hosts events, like the annual Chocolate Festival.  The factory and headquarters of Ghirardelli Chocolate Company used to be located here, and Ghirardelli Square is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  
5.) Lombard Street (5:45-6pm)
From Ghirardelli Square we walked to the super curvy part of Lombard Street, since Sian had only briefly passed by it on a tour bus the day before.  It was about 4 blocks of walking uphill, but San Francisco is known for being a hilly city, so I consider it a form of "initiation" for all who visit San Francisco (at least this is what I told Sian to make it not seem so bad).  After taking some pictures of Lombard Street, we walked to the nearest Cable Car stop on Hyde Street to go back to Union Square. 
6.) Dinner at Hana Zen in Union Square (after 7pm)
Hana Zen:  115 Cyril Magnin St  San Francisco, CA 94102     (415) 421-2101
After we got off the Cable Car, we tried to go to this dessert place Sian had seen on TV, but it was closed on Mondays!  Therefore, we walked back to Union Square and went to Hana Zen for sushi.  Their sake cocktails are amazing; the lychee one I ordered was especially sweet, great for anyone who likes girly drinks.  The food was equally delicious, and I highly recommend this place to anyone who wants good Japanese cuisine in a central, downtown location.  After dinner, Sian went back to her hotel to pack and I caught the BART train home.  
1/17/2019 01:56:26 am

There are some of the reasons why I love San Francisco. But what I especially love is exploring the city by car, because it`s easier to see details. The more you travel, the more obvious it becomes.


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