I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel to San Francisco for business meetings quite often. I’ve been to this gorgeous city about three times now, and each and every time I return, I fall back in love with the scenery, food, and active lifestyle that is prominently seen throughout. Nestled among rugged mountains and hugged by the bay, San Francisco offers a plethora of different outdoor activities and sites to see. Even the weather seems to have mastered a perfect balance between breezy and sunny!
I’ve outlined a quick list below of my favorite San Francisco stops for the savvy (business) traveler. Note: these are a bit touristy, so tread lightly and spare sympathy on my lack of local hideouts and knowledge.
The Painted Ladies
For those Full House fans, head to Alamo Square for a relaxing afternoon and a spectacular view. A seat anywhere in the park will guarantee views of the Painted Ladies sitting quietly among a busy city backdrop. Known for its Victorian Architecture, Alamo Square’s Historic District boasts residential areas designed by some of the most distinguished architects during the 1890’s – 1920’s period. Head the the renown “Postcard Row” to witness iconic San Francisco at its finest, with cable cars running down neighborhood streets at the forefront of a San Francisco skyline backdrop.
This world famous penitentiary finds it’s home in the middle of the bay area. To many, the high profile land mark is solely a prison, but Alcatraz has a rich history of surprising personas. Head over to Pier 33 and hop on a ferry for a quick ride (with spectacular views I might add!) to Alcatraz. During its 29 years of operation from 1934-1963, Alcatraz was home to a total of 1,576 inmates, including the infamous American Gangster, Al Capone, and Alvin Karpis, better known as the original “Public Enemy #1.” I found Alcatraz an extremely informative and interesting part of American History I had not paid particular attention to.
I recommend ferry tickets be purchased in advance to ensure a reasonable day and time of departure. We bought ours about a month in advance and weather did not necessarily play in our favor. Although, the light rain and dark, ominous clouds added a touch of eerie darkness to the island, which I found so amusing! You can find more information about Alcatraz and purchasing tickets on the U.S. National Park Service website.
The Embarcadero is a three mile long waterfront walkway and roadway along the San Francisco Bay. This is one of my favorite areas to stay in San Francisco. It is the perfect location for a morning jog along the waterfront down to Fisherman’s Wharf or a nice stroll towards the many piers scattered along the walkway. In the evening, the waterfront bustles with visitors and locals alike, indulging in the vast array of restaurants and shops along the walkway. Pop into the Ferry Building Marketplace to browse merchant booths and the delicious and fresh farmers market. If this hasn’t persuaded you into visiting the Embarcadero, let the views of the Bay Bridge at sunrise speak for itself!
This is a lookout point that rivals no other in the San Francisco area. To get the best of both city views and an miniature outdoor adventure, head up to Twin Peaks. Acclaimed as some of the best views of the Bay Area and the Pacific Ocean, Twin Peaks is the highest point in the San Francisco area and naturally boasts picture-perfect postcard shots. You can reach the area by rental car or taxi and Uber alike. If you aren’t up for the trek, there parking available at an overlook just beneath the peak, which you can climb the extra few feet up to get to the highest point.
Golden Gate Bridge
A trip to San Francisco isn’t complete without seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in all of its glory and splendor. I constantly find myself in awe of it’s beauty each time I visit the Bay Area. With its striking red hue and mountain-bay backdrop, the Golden Gate is a San Francisco must-see! Be sure to plan your trip accordingly, as you may find yourself catching some of San Francisco’s notorious fog that completely envelopes the bridge. This iconic bridge spans 1.7 miles long, connecting the city of San Francisco to Marin County near Sausalito. Whether you plan to trek the two mile bridge or simply snap pictures of it, this renown U.S. landmark will leave you speechless.