Fun Things To Do in San Francisco
Hop on a cable car
A cable car ride in San Francisco is a major tourist attraction enjoyed by more than seven million tourists a year.
The cable car system in San Francisco is the last remaining manually operated cable car system in the world. The grip operator drives the cable car. This is a highly skilled job that requires great upper body strength to coordinate the grip and the brakes up and down steep hills. It also requires good hand-eye coordination and balance. I do not have any of the necessary skills to drive a cable car!
Be careful if you sit on the open seats or stand on the running boards. Hang on tight!
Our first stop is the top of Lombard Street, the most crooked street in the world.
To get to Lombard Street, hop on the Powell/Hyde car and hop off at Lombard and Hyde.
Enjoy fabulous views of San Francisco from the top of Lombard Street
After you hop off the cable car, take some time to take in the view of San Francisco in all directions.
Be careful where you stand! This is a busy intersection, crowded with tourists and drivers, gathering their courage to walk or drive down the most crooked street in the world, with eight hairpin turns in one block.
This popular tourist destination causes major traffic headaches. The City has tried many tactics to alleviate the congestion. The latest proposal is a $100 price tag to drive down this iconic street!
The crookedest street in the world could become the most expensive as well. San Francisco lawmakers are seriously thinking of charging drivers as much as $100 to drive down the switchback stretch of Lombard Street.
It’s a bad idea all around. Tourists, of course, don’t vote or have any say over their treatment. That means they’re a convenient punching bag — and revenue source — for city authorities looking for a solution. Also, soaking the out-of-towners yanks away the welcome mat in a city that relies on tourism and conventions.
The problem is real enough. Cars back up for blocks to slowly drive down the back-and-forth roadway that features flower beds, expensive homes and sunny views.
What would you do about traffic congestion on the crookedest street in the world?
This couple drove a Go Car down Lombard Street!
We walked down Lombard Street. This gave us the chance to watch the drivers as they navigated the hairpin turns.
I hope that Go Car has good brakes!
Walk down Lombard Street
When you walk down Lombard Street, you can see the front entrances to the houses on the street. This home owner placed a plaque on their entrance:
Lombard Street is known as the “Crookedest Street” in the World. You will climb 253 steps on the left side and 249 steps on the right side of the street. There are 8 switchbacks and 12 flowerbeds with over 2000 blue and purple hydrangeas. The flowers are maintained all year long. Throughout the day, hundreds of people visit this street. The street is used for weddings, exhibits and other special events. It is one of the most popular and photographed areas in the world.
Would you want to live on one of the most popular streets in the world?
This tourist drove a red Mustang convertible down Lombard Street!
How would you like to go down Lombard Street?
Would you like to walk, drive a Go Car or a red Mustang convertible?
Visit Pier 39
It is a short walk from the bottom of Lombard Street to Pier 39, at the edge of Fisherman’s Wharf. T
his popular tourist attraction has shops, restaurants, a video arcade, an Aquarium and a two-story carousel.
At the end of the pier, you have fabulous views of Angel Island, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge. The Bay cruise that we took leaves from Pier 39.
Watch the sea lions from Pier 39
The sea lions started to use the boat docks of Pier 39 in 1989. No one knows why.
Boat owners complained about the hazards of navigating around animals that can weigh over half a ton. The solution? Abandon the docks to the sea lions and relocate the boats!
The sea lions are now a major tourist attraction.
Their population fluctuates with the seasons. Sometimes they all leave for the winter and return in the spring. No one knows where they go but scientist use the sea lions at Pier 39 to advance our knowledge of their behaviour.
We saw the sea lions at dusk. They looked like they were already tucked in bed for the evening. If the ‘little one’ said, “Roll over! Roll over!” they would all end up in the water!
While you are checking out the sea lions, catch the view of the City from Pier 39
On the left side of this photo, you can see Coit Tower.
Visit City Lights Bookstore
City Lights has a large counter-culture footprint
There are lots of places to dine at Pier 39 but we headed back to our hotel in the financial district that borders Chinatown and the Italian district. Our evening stroll took us past City Lights.
City Lights in an independent bookstore-publisher founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin. City Lights is an official historic landmark – the first such designation that San Francisco has granted to a business, rather than a building.
City Lights played a seminal role in the literary and cultural development of San Francisco and the nation.
City Lights bookstore is a landmark that attracts thousands of book lovers from all over the world because of its strong ambiance of alternative culture and arts
City Lights Publishers made a significant contribution to major developments in post- World War II literature.
In 1971, Ferlinghetti persuaded Nancy Peters to join City Lights. Peters said:
When I joined City Lights, it was clear that it had been very much a center of protest, for people with revolutionary ideas and people who wanted to change society.
And when I first began working at the little editorial office up on Filbert and Grant, people that Lawrence had known through the whole decade of the ’60s were dropping in all the time, like Paul Krassner, Tim Leary, people who were working with underground presses and trying to provide an alternative to mainstream media.
This bookstore reminded me of the iconic song, San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)
If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear
Some flowers in your hair
This song, written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, became the unofficial anthem of the counterculture movement of the 1960’s.
If you missed the 1960’s, you can still check out City Lights Bookstore!
Dine at Francis Ford Coppola’s Restaurant
Just down the street from City Lights isCafé Zoetrope, a little bistro owned by Francis Ford Coppola.
Café Zoetrope is very quaint, with lots of movie memorabilia.
I can’t remember what I had for dinner because I never remember what I eat. I’m sure it was great because all our meals in San Francisco were great.
I loved this restaurant for its atmosphere.
Take the time to look at the memorabilia on the walls at Café Zoetrope
This is a signed photo of Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Francis Coppola and George Lucas.
Read a short story
If you have spent the day together and have run out of things to talk about, you can press a button for a 1-minute, 3-minute or 5-minute story. Or, you can press all three and get three short stories!
Have you ever seen a short-story dispenser?
See the Sentinel Building at Night
Café Zoetrope is on the ground floor of the Sentinel Building, a distinctive copper-green Flatiron building. I love Flatiron buildings.
The Sentinel Building was owned by the Kingston Trio and used as their corporate headquarters and recording studio in the 1960’s. They sold the building to Francis Ford Coppola. His American Zoetrope film studio that he co-founded with George Lucas occupies most of the tower.
See the Sentinel Building in the daylight
The Sentinel Building is just down the street from our hotel. On my way for my morning coffee and croissant, I stopped to take a few pictures.
We had lots of fun in San Francisco. We had a great time with the grandkids and lots of time to explore the city on our own.
The grandkids reminded us how to have fun when we took them to the Portsmouth Square playground in Chinatown, just across the street from our hotel.
Kids remind us to find fun in simple activities
Our sweet sweet grandchildren had the most fun on an old tire swing on a sunny spring day in San Francisco.