My husband Josh and I embarked on a 1-week road-trip from Orange County, CA to Portland, OR. I convinced my country boy husband to take a 4day-3night trip to San Francisco with me (showing that he does love me :’)). It was my favorite part of the trip.
The culture, the food, the scenery, the ambience. I loved it all. I can’t wait to go back and do the other things I didn’t get to do, and also revisit the super awesome science museums!
Note: It’s okay to be a tourist! Some tourist attractions are attractions for a reason – because they’re fun and educational! Just remember to check Yelp or TripAdvisor for traveler reviews to weed the fun from the gimmicky.
Itinerary at a glance
I was feeling ambitious and determined to squeeze as much as possible into the short 4d3n trip we got in San Francisco. Can you tell?
Day One: Arrival
Day Two: Tourist Tour (19,000 steps, 25 floors, 7mi walking/running)
Departed Airbnb, parked at Hotel Zephyr for $30 all day (purchased online)
11am -1.30pm Alcatraz Island (Board ferry from Pier 33)
Lunch at Codmother Fish & Chips
24 hour fitness gym stop because Josh needed his workout-fix
Brief visit to Ghiradelli Marketplace/Square
Musee Mecanique! (free, though we ended up spending quite a bit on the games)
Fisherman’s Wharf – socks galore!
7D ride + laser maze (obtained voucher on Groupon)
Mirror maze (impromptu – $5)
Pier 39 – sea lions!
10pm Cable car (Powell-Hyde) ride from Powell-Hyde Cable Car Turnaround to Union Square (20 mins), got mooned by homeless person rifling through trash bins
Day Three: Museum Day!
9.30am -5pm CA Academy of Sciences (Golden Gate Park) (9.30am-5pm, $35/adult, $30/student)
6pm-10pm Exploratarium After Dark ($15/adult + $10/adult for Tactile Dome)
The view from Twin Peaks. It’s 100000x better in person, too. Just be sure to bring a windbreaker!
SOMA Streat Food Park: amazing food trucks. We arrived late, so many trucks were sold out, but The Sarap Shop was still open – thank goodness! Best food we had during our short visit to San Francisco!
Alcatraz Island: world famous old prison. The audiotour (included with entry) is award-winning and deserves the title.
The day started out gloomy, in true San Francisco fashion, but it cleared up later.
You get to sit in a cell.
Outside, there are beautiful gardens and horticultural classes, as well as the remains of the accommodation for prison workers.
Alcatraz Island was like a village for the prison workers and their families. Their kids would take the daily ferry back to the mainland for school, and then take the ferry back.
A fun postcard at the gift store:
Fisherman’s Wharf a.k.a. Tourist’s Paradise
Musee Mecanique: this classic arcade museum is so much fun! There are so many classic games you can play for just 25c each. I burned through quite a few dollar bills here.
Pier 39: so many sea lions! Always jostling each other for space, and sometimes being plain jerks by pushing each other off the platform and into the water, they were very amusing to watch. One photogenic sea lion was posing for tourists. He/she matched the sea lions on the sign!
California Academy of Science: world-class, brand-spankin’-new science museum that rocked my world.
We got to dissect owl pellets (dried owl poop) and found bony remains of moles, voles, rats, to name a few! The volunteer helping us was very friendly and informative!
Exploratorium (After Dark): On Thursdays, both the CA Academy of Science and the Exploratorium are open to adults (21+) in the evenings. Alcohol is sold and you get to enjoy the museums without running and screaming kids.
The Exploratorium is hands-on science museum filled with physics, biology and chemistry science experiments and demonstrations. We watched a cow eye dissection, played with sound waves and electricity, and ventured into the Tactile Dome!
You get to drink from a “toilet”!
The Tactile Dome is a pitch-black obstacle course that you navigate with your four senses sans sight. I was terrified at first, but honestly, it wasn’t scary at all. The course was well-padded, and you can enter with your friends.
At your appointment time, the doors open, and you enter a waiting room with the other participants. Then you enter the dome group by group, starting from the largest group first. The Dome isn’t large, so you can hear any shrieks of joy that go on inside. You are monitored by infrared cameras the entire way by a host in the waiting room.
There were couples on first dates and couples who’ve been together for years (you can just tell.) I was nervous about losing my sense of sight for a few minutes, but it was a great experience. I wish I could’ve stayed in there longer! There was something very soothing about being in a cool, quiet, dark place.
My husband commented that in San Francisco, young people have more fun things to do like visit science museums on Thursday nights than sit at bars drinking. I agree – and this is why I loved San Francisco.
Things I want to do when I return:
- Visit Chinatown
- Walk down Lombard Street (didn’t have time to do that this trip – but we did get a peek while on the cable car!)
- Visit the other museums
- Visit CA academy of science and Exploratorium again
- Bike over Golden Gate Bridge
Have you been to San Francisco? What was your favorite activity/place?