Before I go into detail about my road trip to San Francisco, just want to give a big thank you to all the troops who have protected our country. You will always be remembered and honored. Shout out to all the troops out there still serving till this day and continue to work hard.
This weekend’s road trip with the family was planned since March of this year, and good thing we did because San Francisco was heavily trafficked. We left on Saturday morning and got to our hotel in six hours which gave us a lot time to explore new places before it got dark. On our way off interstate 5, you will come across many rest stops and overview stops. One stop that caught my attention was in Los Banos, which you will find the California Aqueduct. It’s a good stop to catch some views. Fun fact, the California Aqueduct is runned by the Department of Water Resources (DWR).
We got to our hotel around 1:00pm in the South of San Fran, unpacked our luggage and got ready to hit our first adventure.
Day one itinerary:
- 1:00-2:00pm – Arrive to hotel
- 3:00-4:00pm – Visit Dutch/Murphy Windmill at Golden Gate Park
- 5:00-6:00pm – Labyrinths at Land’s End
- Nightlife – Castro District
Golden Gate Park literally is one big park with so many places to visit. Not only are the historical windmills located here but the park also has a botanical Garden, Japanese Tea Garden, Conservatory of Flower, etc. Click on this link to view the map. Golden Gate Park Unfortunately, we were not able to explore all these areas because we really wanted to see the main things on the itinerary.
Next stop we headed to, the Labyrinths at Land’s End. Parking was easy to find at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Have to say I was not expecting to hike on this stop but we were in for a surprise. Once you park, you will see a trail to walk down towards the beach. You will come across a sign to either go to the “Coastal Trail – Miles Rock Beach” or the “Memorial Trail”. Follow the coastal trail where you find stairs headed down. Hike is about 1.5 miles staring from the parking lot, so you will get a nice little workout. You will see beautiful beach views headed down and once you get to the beach you will be amazed by all the beauty of this beach. The tides in San Fran are heavy and you can hear waves hitting the rocks on the beach. There are Balance rocks all over the sand area with a small cave on the right side of the mountain where the labyrinth is located above. On the right side, you will see another trail going up the mountain. It may seem a little steep but believe me it is worth going up. Once you hit the middle part of the mountain, you will see the Labyrinth. Fun Fact, The Labyrinth was created by San Fran artist Eduardo Aguilera in 2004.
You can keep walking up the mountain to get an eye birds view of the Labyrinth. You can also see the Golden Gate Bridge from here.
Final stop for our first day in San Fran, The Castro District. LGBT neighborhood filled with bars, restaurants, and many shops. Positive vibes and prismatic streets just makes it worth walking by and grabbing a beer at a local bar. We stopped by a restaurant called The Sausage Factory (Yelp), where they serve good traditional Italian food.
Day two itinerary:
- 11:00-1:30pm – The Wave Organ
- 1:30-2:30pm – Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze
- 3:00-6:00pm – Alcatraz Tour
- 6:00-7:30pm – The “Broken Record”
After a nice breakfast, we headed to the Wave Organ. Originally, we were going to visit The Ruins of Sutro Baths, but there was no parking. Had a hard time finding a spot so we went to The Wave Organ which was located near by. At first, we were a bit lost because the island entrance is hidden (somewhat). We actually parked a mile away because a lot of the parking areas were private. Once you find the parking area with a small lighthouse in the middle of street, you are going the right way. You will than see the walk way to the Wave Organ. The Wave Organ is a structure that activates wave sounds through pipes from concrete. You can click on the link to learn more. The Wave Organ
Pier 39, our next stop. We found parking across the street from the main parking for about $30 (valet). Pretty pricey but we had no other choice. We gazed around at all the shops/restaurants on the pier and headed all the way to back of pier. You will find Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze upstairs on the second floor. Entrance fee for the Maze is $5. There is no time limit so you can enjoy trippin out on mirrors.
Main event from the whole trip, is our stop to Alcatraz island. Please make sure to get tickets in advance. They usually have tickets for the ferry ride around the island but if you want to get off and experience the tour, click on link to purchase before. Alcatraz Island Tour Boat ride was fast, probably took 10-15 min to the island. Once you get to the island, there are tour guides available for $1 donation. We pretty much walked the whole island and got to see the main cellhouse, library, lighthouse, wardens house, water tower, new industry building, recreation area, etc. Our first stop was the new industrial building which had a small museum inside showing the laundry room for prisoners. Took the cellhouse tour with audio and got to see the cellhouses, D-block, library, and recreation area. If you head out the door at the recreation area, you will find the nesting area for over 20,000 seabirds. You will also catch an amazing view of the San Fran Skyline. This tour is a must stop. Have to say my favorite area was probably seeing all the cellhouses and definitely the skyline view.
After the Alcatraz tour, we headed to the infamous bar/restaurant “Broken Record”. My friend had recommended we try it out since she saw it on TV. Have to say it was a little sketch when we first saw it. We entered and automatically thought it was a bar. We just had to walk further inside to realize there are tables in the back. Once we got a table and ordered, food was delicious. Only bad thing, is drinks are served at the bar but other than that I really recommend the food and Micheladas. =) Click on the link to learn more about this bar. The Broken Record That pretty much summed up our day two. We were exhausted by the end of day and headed back to prepare our last day.
Day three itinerary:
- 10:00 – Checkout/Breakfast
- 11:00-12:00pm – Coit Tower
- 12:00-2:30pm – Golden Gate Bridge/Point Bonita Lighthouse
- 2:30pm – Bay Bridge
Day three, first stop, The Coit Tower. Coit Tower is located in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood at Pioneer Park. Registered as a National Historic Place since 2008. We didn’t get to visit the inside to due to the high volume of people but we did get a few pics of the Tower and the Christopher Columbus statue in the front. You can also get amazing landscape pics of Alcatraz, Lombard Street, Treasure Island, and the SF bridges.
Next stop is the Golden Gate Bridge to Point Bonita Lighthouse (U.S. Route 101). Toll to pass the bridge will cost $7.75. Since we been to the bridge recreation area already, we decided to pass it up and head straight to the lighthouse. The lighthouse is approximately 4.4 miles away from the bridge. I had never drove through this path before so I was amazed how many people actually come here to check out the views. Driving toward the lighthouse you will get to admire the views of the Marin Headlands. There is plenty of parking for the lighthouse. There will be a small hike (0.5 mile) and the lighthouse is open Sun-Mon from 12:30pm to 3:30pm. This hike is no ordinary hike. The views are amazing of the beach on the Marin Headlands side. You get to go under a hand carved tunnel leading to the lighthouse. Once you hit the bridge, there will be someone directing a certain amount of people through the suspension bridge. The lighthouse itself is a 56-foot brick tower and located at 124 feet above sea level and is also maintained by the United States Coast Guard.
Our last stop before heading back home, was to drive through the bay bridge. As we drive through the bridge, we noticed a sign to Treasure Island. I had not heard of this area so we stopped by. Since I didn’t get to do much research before stopping we didn’t stay. But what I do know now is, it is home of the a historical landmark as part of the World Fair honoring SF historical bridges. I wish we could have stayed longer but we ended our road trip exiting the bay bridge.
Overall this road trip was amazing. I can’t wait till we venture out to our next destination. Hope you tune in. Next blog will be about my road trip to Joshua Tree. So hope you have time to trip out on the desert…..