I always longed to visit San Francisco and I was so happy that my very first trip as a crew member, almost twenty five years ago, was to this amazing city. I’ve been back on numerous occasions since; always discovering new places and things to do on each trip. One of my favourites is to walk over to Sausalito over the incredible Golden Gate Bridge.
There are alternatives to walking; you can get the ferry, taking in Alcatraz as you go (these leave from either Pier 39 or 41), you could take an open top tour bus or you can cycle, there are numerous bicycle rental shops the closer you get to Fisherman’s Wharf. But walking is always my preferred choice as you can really take in the spectacular views without feeling rushed.
Depending on how I’m feeling on the day I either walk straight up and over via either Mason or Powell Street; fairly steep ascent and descent or I go the longer, flatter route via Market street and then on The Embarcadero. You can go through both Chinatown and Little Italy en route if you prefer; Grant Street goes through the centre of Chinatown and then if you get to the junction where Broadway meets Colombus Avenue you are in Little Italy. The cable car is always a nearby option if the going gets a bit tough.
A detour that is well worth making is to view Lombard Street. It’s said to be the crookedest street in the world with eight sharp bends within a single block. I drove down there once; it certainly focuses the mind. It’s always heavily planted with beautiful flowers, when I was there it was awash with hydrangea’s. Very picturesque and well worth seeing in my opinion
On reaching Fisherman’s Wharf I head towards Pier 39 and Ghiradelli Square where you’ll find what used to be Ghiradelli’s chocolate factory. You can easily spend a few hours in this area taking in the atmosphere. It’s always bustling with people. The seals on Pier 39 are always an entertaining scene; you’ll hear them before you see them, believe me.
There’s a great collection of ships to see at the San Francisco Maritime Museum conveniently located at Fisherman’s Wharf. The ships varying from the steam tug ‘Hercules’ through to a square-rigger ‘Balclutha’. Most of them are open to visitors.
Moving on you walk through The Presidio and along the sea front passing The Palace of Fine Arts slightly set back but very obvious in its grandeur. A bit further on you come to an area called Crissy Fields; this was an airfield but has now been restored to its natural salt marsh ecosystem. It’s a wonderful area for people to relax and enjoy the views over the bay. Once you get to Fort Point it’s time to head onwards and upwards towards the bridge.
Crossing the bridge gets incredibly busy with both walkers and cyclist. I would strongly recommend sticking to the designated areas set aside for both. There are plenty of places to stop and take in the incredible views looking towards both San Francisco and Sausalito. At times both the bridge and San Francisco can be covered by a blanket of cloud and just a few miles away you can be basking in sunshine.
Once over the bridge it doesn’t take too long to walk in to Sausalito. You’ll be spoilt for choice of great places to get a refreshing beverage and something delicious to eat. There are numerous places along the waterfront or you can head up some very steep steps to one of the hotels on the top to get even more spectacular views of San Francisco. The only decision you’ll now have to make is whether to walk back or take the ferry.
Another journey that can be made from here is to Tiburon. I’ve yet to do that. Looking forward to heading back to California soon and next time I hope I’ll get to see those delights