San Francisco – Day 1 of a 8-Day California Road Trip
We started our 8-Day road trip in California at San Francisco, known for its steep streets and iconic structures – Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, cable cars, and much more! The weather was so nice (for the majority of the trip) and warm (~23°C) despite being November.
We landed in San Francisco right before noon. Due to my seat by the window, I got a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the air. We took the BART train from the airport to Union Square (Powell Street Station). This was a very smooth process. First step, purchase a Muni pass from the ticket booth. Second step, load money onto the Muni pass. Third pass, tap for entry and board the BART. San Francisco is a very transit friendly city – the Muni pass can be used on all the transit systems in San Francisco (cable cars, buses, and the BART).
From Powell Street Station, our hotel was about a 10 minute walk. We stayed at the Andrews Hotel. Lucky for us, our room was already available when we arrived despite being early for check-in. The hotel was lovely with the exception that it bordered Tenderloin, an unsavoury area of San Francisco. Breakfast pastries were available every morning along with coffee and tea. The spiral stairwell in the hotel really fit in well with the San Francisco vibes.
After dropping off our bags in our room, we took the bus to Boudin Bakery Cafe near Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch. We shared the clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, which is one of their popular dishes. They also brought out a bowl of sourdough bread and butter. The sourdough bread was delicious!
After lunch, we walked to Lombard Street, a block with 8 hairpin turns. This is a busy spot due to tourists snapping photos and cars driving down the hill. The view in the opposite direction of Lombard Street is also gorgeous and really showcases San Francisco’s steep streets.
Next stop – Ghirardelli Square. Ghirardelli Square was once the headquarters for the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. Ghirardelli Chocolate Company moved its headquarters in 1960 and the area was sold. The new owners desired to preserve the building’s history and architecture and the block was transformed into a retail area. True to its name, there is a Ghirardelli Square chocolate shop which sells an assortment of chocolates and tasty ice cream sundaes. There is also a brewery, San Francisco Brewing, which we stopped at for a beer.
Afterwards, we headed closer to the water and walked to Pier 39 stopping to observe the various attractions along the way. It was clear enough that we could see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island in the distance. Alcatraz Island used to be home to a federal prison, but closed in 1963. Today it is a popular tourist attraction, where visitors can learn about the prison’s history and walk the prison grounds.
Pier 45 is home to WWII ships USS Pampanito and SS Jeremiah O’Brien, now museums, but they were closed by the time we visited (early evening). The USS Pampanito is a submarine that served six war patrols from 1944 to 1945 and continued its service as a training ship from 1960 to 1971. The SS Jeremiah O’Brien is a Liberty ship built during World War 2.
Pier 39 is a busy spot with lots of boutique stores, restaurants and even a mini amusement park. For dinner, we headed to Bubba Gump at Pier 39. Bubba Gump gained fame due to its role in the movie, Forrest Gump. We ordered drinks and food (Cajun Shrimper’s Net Catch and Shrimper’s Heaven). The Cajun Shrimper’s Net Catch was amazing. Yum!
After dinner, we wandered Pier 39 for a bit, then headed back to the hotel by cable car. As we were leaving Pier 39, we could see Coit Tower in the distance.
Complete Day 1 Itinerary
*Travel times may vary. Check Google Maps for most accurate travel details.
8:00am: Fly to San Francisco.
12:00pm: Have lunch at Boudin Bakery (54 minute transit from San Francisco Airport).
1:00pm: Visit Lombard Street (20 minute transit from Boudin Bakery).
2:00pm: Visit Ghirardelli Square (10 minute walk from Lombard Street). Have a beer at San Francisco Brewing and grab ice cream and chocolate from Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Shop.
5:00pm: Walk along the water to Pier 39 (14 minute walk from Ghirardelli Square). Stop at Pier 45 to see the World War II ships (USS Pampanito and SS Jeremiah O’Brien). Admire Alcatraz Island from a distance.
7:00pm: Have dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Explore Pier 39.
8-Day California Road Trip Itinerary
Click “Download” below for an excel version of my 8-Day California Road Trip Itinerary. Feel free to use the excel file as a planning template for your own trip in California!