To spend a day in San Francisco on a sunny spring afternoon is to spend a day of happiness. Our very last day of our long California weekend brought us to the beautiful city, which we flew out of later that night. We all piled into three separate vehicles and drove the two hours from the house to the city, and arrived late morning. The traffic was pretty bad, which can be expected for a city like that. We drove around a little bit just trying to find a parking garage or parking lot to park for the day, and finally found one, which was VERY expensive. (like almost $40 for one day if I remember correctly!) Having brought lots of food for an impromptu picnic, which ended up taking place in that parking lot with everything spread out on the trunk of one of the cars, (hey, we know how to party!) we ate all of that and then set off to explore the city.
The place where we parked was more down toward the bottom of the city, pretty close to the bay. We walked around for most of that day. Ghirardelli Square was one of the first places we went, and it was so cool. It’s basically the inside courtyard-esque area of several buildings that were once the headquarter operations of Ghirardelli chocolate company. Nowadays, they don’t manufacture their chocolate in those buildings, but it has become a big tourist destination in San Francisco for chocolate lovers everywhere. There is a fountain in the middle, and tables and chairs spread throughout. There are also a few ice cream and dessert shops, and then a couple Ghirardelli chocolate stores. I went into one of them, and that place is crazy; smells amazing, exclusively Ghirardelli chocolate, and people everywhere. You could barely move without bumping into someone. I got a special San Francisco wrapped chocolate bar, which happened to be their Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Almond one. I ate it long after I got home, and it was really good. Ghirardelli Square isn’t the type of place that you could really fill up an entire afternoon or anything, but it’s nice to explore for an hour or two.
Just wandering around San Fran is really nice because there are so many unexpected things you’ll see. We saw people out on the streets playing guitar, a man sprayed entirely in silver paint dancing to his stereo a few feet away, a car that bounced up and down to the beat of its music, and lots of little shops selling touristy stuff, like sweatshirts and Christmas ornaments.
I think that most of the time, one of the best things you can do when you’re in a new city is just wander around and not really rush to do anything. See what you can find, and people watch a little bit. It’s one of the best ways to get to know the culture of that city and what life there might be like.
When in San Francisco, of course you have to ride in a cable car! That was really fun. It’s exactly as you would picture it; bell ringing, steep inclines, and people hanging outside of the car. I even hung on the outside for part of the experience! They have a cable car that starts down by the bay, and takes you to the top of the city. (at least it feels like the top!) then you get off and wait in line for another car to take you back down. While a few people waited in line for us, we went off to the huge mall right in the heart of the street that the cable cars go back down on. It was nice, but the stores were all normal mall stores, so we didn’t spend a whole lot of time there. The cable car stations at the top and bottom are really cool; they have to drive onto this big platform shaped like a circle, then they turn the platform so the car is facing the other way, so it can go back the way it came. Pretty cool process to watch.
We got to see the Golden Gate Bridge from sort of far away, as it was getting late and we had to be at the airport. It was almost completely covered with fog but it was cool to just see it. It’s soooo long! So after hopping out of the car to look at that real quick, we drove around a little bit and then headed for the airport, and flew out of the beautiful city just after midnight. Our red-eye flight went fine and I slept almost the entire 5 hours!! But anyway, our day in San Francisco was awesome and I would definitely recommend just taking a few days to explore the city if you ever get the chance. Because chances are, it’s exactly as you imagine.