Head Up And Down The Hills of San Francisco

Up And Down The Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Our Final Stop In San Francisco

It was time to finish up our 3 week road trip in California. We enjoyed our stop in Napa for wine tasting. Our final stop took us up and down the hills of San Francisco.

The drive from Napa was an easy one. We remembered to avoid the Golden Gate Bridge. The tolls are automated and there was no way to pay them in cash. We knew that the admin fee on our rental car would be greater than the actual toll we couldn’t pay. So we took the route across the Oakland Bay Bridge. The GPS routed us right to the Hotel Adagio.

Oakland Bay Bridge.jpg

The Hotel Adagio was just a few blocks from Union Square. Our loyalty status got us a nice upgraded corner suite. And enjoyed the newly renovated common lounge on the main floor. We always love when hotels are eclectically decorated. It is a signature of the Autograph Collection in the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio of hotels.

Hotel Adagio.jpg

 Hotel Adagio.jpg

 Hotel Adagio.jpg

It was always great to stay in a hotel where the staff really care that your are enjoying your stay. We were asked about our stay by almost every person we met in the hotel.

From Union Square, we travelled up and down the hills of San Francisco and rekindled our love of this city. We found so many things to do in San Francisco.

Wonder At The Bridges Of San Francisco

When we looked out on the waterfront, the two major bridges flanked either side. The Oakland Bay Bridges had two spans. When we took a night boat tour, the lights on the bridge twinkled and put on a light show. It reminded us of the light shows we got on the river cities in China.

Oakland BayBridge.jpg

But the most famous of the bridges of San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge. The iconic orange bridge is often considered the symbol of San Francisco. On our previous visits, we always found the bridge draped with fog. We were excited when we had 3 days of sunshine on this visit to San Francisco.

Golden Gate Bridge.jpg

Golden Gate Bridge.jpg

It is definitely worth a trip down the hills of San Francisco to see the bridges across the bay.

Head Down The Hills For Waterfront Sights

From Union Square, you need to head down the hills of San Francisco to get to the waterfront. It was interesting to find that when we headed one way we ended up at the main port. When we went the other direction, we got to Fisherman’s Wharf.

The Port of San Francisco is the place to go for boats to other spots in the region. Or to head up the coast. There was a streetcar that ran along the waterfront from the Port of San Francisco to a few blocks from Ghirardelli’s. This was an easy way to save our feet and hop from spot to spot along the waterfront.

Waterfront Port.jpg

Waterfront Streetcar.jpg

Fisherman’s Wharf was a busy tourist spot. It was a great spot to see the boats on the harbour. And the perfect place for fresh seafood.

Fishermans Wharf.jpg

Fishermans Wharf.jpg

Fishermans Wharf Fishing Boats.jpg

Fishermans Wharf Clam Chowder Bread Bowl.jpg

Ferry boats and tour boats can take you all around the waterways of San Francisco. It is a great way to see San Francisco from the water. Alcatraz stood out on the rocks in the bay. It is a great spot for a tour.

Fishermans Wharf Water Cruise - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Fishermans Wharf Alcatraz - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

But no visit to the waterfront in San Francisco was complete without a visit to see the sea lions. We heard them well before we saw them. Several floating docks were covered with sea lions. Many just lay sunning themselves. Other swam in the waters. And there was always a fight or two that kept us amused.

Fishermans Wharf Pier 39 Sea Lions - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Fishermans Wharf Pier 39 Sea Lions - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Fishermans Wharf Pier 39 Sea Lions - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Fishermans Wharf Pier 39 Sea Lions.jpg

From the waterfront, we looked backup the hills of San Francisco. We saw the iconic buildings that dominated the skyline.

Skyline - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

 Coit Tower Skyline - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Transamerica Tower Salesforce Tower Skyline - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Make sure to head down the hills of San Francisco to the waterfront.

Find The Fun Things To Do On The Waterfront

The Mechanics Museum was at Pier 45. As we wandered through the museum, it was fun to see the vast collection of old carnival machines. Behind the museum were two WWII vessels – the USS Pampanito submarine and the SS Jeremiah O’Brien ship. My ex-navy hubby just had to pose for that picture.

Pier 45 WWII Submarine and Ship.jpg

Pier 45 WWII Submarine Pampanito and Ship - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

There were numerous performers along the waterfront. Music filled the air. We sat and ate our Frankie’s beignets. It brought back memories of outdoor patios and beignets in New Orleans. An acrobatics or dance demonstration started up in front of us. There was far more build-up and entreaties for money than there was an actual show.

Frankie's Beignets..jpg

Waterside Street Performers.jpg

We even found a little bit of streetart by the waterfront. San Francisco has a lot of great street artists. We wished we had more time to explore this fun part of the city.

Waterfront Street Murals - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Waterfront Street Murals - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

When we headed to the end of the waterfront streetcar line we found the Ghirardelli chocolate haven. We wandered through the shops and found interesting local packaging. A chocolate fudge ice cream sundae called to us before we left the store. Luckily it came with two spoons!

Ghirardelli Waterfront Marketplace - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Ghirardelli Waterfront Marketplace - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Ghirardelli Waterfront Marketplace - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Ghirardelli Waterfront Marketplace Sundae.jpg

A walk through the Ghirardelli Marketplace building provided more information on the chocolate making process. We do love to learn about chocolate when we travel. When we visited St. Lucia, we enjoyed a day at a chocolate plantation and even made our own chocolate bars.

Ghirardelli Waterfront Marketplace Chocolate Making Process - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Ghirardelli Waterfront Marketplace Chocolate Making Process - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

If you are looking for some fun things to see and do, head down the hills of San Francisco.

Wander On The Hill Around Union Square

We often wandered on the hill over to Union Square. The big open square was a great spot to sit under the Dewey Monument and enjoy the sunshine.

Union Square - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Union Square Dewey Monument - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

On two of the corners of the square we found the iconic hearts of San Francisco. Every visit we have found interesting designs by different artists. It was a fun way to say we left our heart in San Francisco.

Union Square Hearts - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Union Square Hearts - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

When we wandered around Union Square and wanted a treat, we headed to the Cheesecake Factory. It is located on the top floor of Macy’s. There was a good food menu. Many of the items are labelled “skinnylicious”. But we spent more time picking just the right cheesecake for our treat.

Union Square Cheesecake Factory.jpg

Union Square Cheesecake Factory - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

We loved to wander and find the architectural gems when we wandered around San Francisco. The buildings were colourful and fanciful.

Union Square Building Architecture - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Union Square Building Architecture - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Union Square Building Architecture - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

We rode up and down the hills of San Francisco from Union Square. It was a great spot to start and end our days.

Ride The Hills Of San Francisco On The Cable Cars

We had the most fun when we used the cable cars to go up and down the hills of San Francisco. There were two major hills that the cable cars ran on. We used the Powell line to go up and down from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf. And we used the Hyde line to return from our visit to Ghirardelli’s.

Cable Car Turnaround - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Cable Car On Hills - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Cable Car On Hills - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

When the cable cars got to the end of the lines, there was a turn-table to turn the cable car back around. It was fun to watch the cars manually moved.

There were seats inside and outside on the cable cars. But it was so much more fun to ride on the running board. David made sure he snagged the front spot to video our trips.

The most fun way to go up and down the hills of San Francisco was by cable car. The cost for the cable car was $7 per ride. We bought a one day Passport for $12. This gave us access to all the Muni public transportation routes and included the cable cars. It worked out well on a weekday when we used the cable cars several times. On the weekends, the line ups were really long. It was much easier to use the buses and subway.

Walk Up The Hill To See The Cable Car Museum

The hills of San Francisco were steep. Even when you go up, it seemed there was a dip and then another hill to climb. We looked at our map and found two spots we wanted to visit. The Cable Car Museum was about 6 blocks. It looked quite walkable on the map. But little did we know that most of that walk was uphill.

The uphill walk stressed one set of muscles. And the walk back down stressed another. In places where the road was really steep, there were stairs in the middle of the sidewalk. Our fitness tracker kept great track of the ups and downs. We were glad we had the option to ride the cable cars.

Steep Hills - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Steep Hills - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Steep Hills.jpg

The Cable Car Museum was at a spot where both the Howell and Hyde line pass. So you can hop off for a visit. Admission was free. On the main floor we found the massive pulleys that pulled the actual cable cars up and down the hills. We sat through a short video that showed us how the pulleys and brakes worked on the lines.

Cable Car Museum - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Cable Car Museum - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Cable Car Museum - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Scattered around the main floor we looked at a number of different historical cable cars. We sat in them for pictures. Every wall was filled with history and education.

Cable Car Museum - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Cable Car Museum - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

We explored the main level and the lower level. But did not realize there there was an upper level as well. It was something left for another visit.

We walked up the hills of San Francisco to visit the Cable Car Museum. It gave us a much greater appreciation for the cable cars and the intricate processes to keep them moving on the hills.

Wander On The Hill To The Grace Cathedral

When we walked up the hills of San Francisco to the Cable Car Museum, we found a lovely garden oasis at Hungtington Park. People sat and soaked up the sunshine. The main fountain in the square was the Fountain of the Tortoises. Another small statue showed children at play.

 Hungtington Park Fountain of the Tortoises - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

 Greber children playing Hungtington Park - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

On one side of the park was the Fairmont Hotel. We were surprised to see a statue of Tony Bennett, famous for singing “I left my heart in San Francisco” in front of the hotel. It was later explained when we learned that the street was called Tony Bennett Way.

 Fairmont Tony Bennett statue - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

On the other side of the park we found Grace Cathedral. It stood tall on the hills of San Francisco. At night, it was an easy sight to pick out. The archways and doors were intricate and artistic. It was such a beautiful exterior.

Grace Cathedral - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Grace Cathedral Doors - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Grace Cathedral Doors - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Grace Cathedral Doors - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Grace Cathedral At Night - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

But when we walked inside the church, our jaws dropped. Hundreds of paper birds streamed in the air down to the altar. The stained glass windows circled the church. They were brilliant in their colourful designs. Below the windows, each section had a different mural. It was such an amazing church to visit.

Grace Cathedral Stained Glass - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Grace Cathedral Stained Glass - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Grace Cathedral Stained Glass - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Grace Cathedral Stained Glass - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

Grace Cathedral Wall Murals - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

When you travel up the hills of San Francisco, make sure to plan a visit to the Grace Cathedral.

Finish With Panoramic Views At The Top Of The Mark

On one corner of the park was the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins. It was the perfect spot to venture up to the Top of the Mark. We went up just before the sunset. And got a view that looked out over the bay. It was a great spot to see the building tops.

John Hopkins Top Of The Mark - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

John Hopkins Top Of The Mark View - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

As the buildings started to glow, we knew that sunset had started. We looked out the other side as the sun set. And far off between the buildings we saw the Golden Gate Bridge.

John Hopkins Top Of The Mark View.jpg

John Hopkins Top Of The Mark Sunset View - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

John Hopkins Top Of The Mark Sunset View - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

We sipped on drinks and had snacks as the night slowly fell. The buildings twinkled as the lights came on. And then we saw the full harvest moon as it rose on the horizon. It was what we all waited for.

John Hopkins Top Of The Mark Moonrise View - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

John Hopkins Top Of The Mark Moonrise View - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

John Hopkins Top Of The Mark Moonrise View - Hills of San Francisco.jpg

We learned that the Top of the Mark has an interesting tradition started during WWII. They have a cabinet of partially drunk liquor bottles. These bottles were left by servicemen for when they next returned. And for others to return. The person that empties the bottle, buys a new one. The bottles had interesting notes on them.

John Hopkins Top Of The Mark Servicemen Drink Tradition.jpg

John Hopkins Top Of The Mark Servicemen Drink Tradition.jpg

We were so glad we went to the Top of the Mark to watch the sun set and the moon rise. It was the perfect spot at the top of the hills of San Francisco for a panoramic view.

We Loved To Head Up and Down The Hills Of San Francisco

When we visited San Francisco, we spent a lot of time wandering up and down the hills of San Francisco.  We headed down the hills and explored the waterfront.  And when we went up the hills, we saw interesting sights and got great panoramic view.  Union Square was a great spot to explore. And to start and end the fun cable car rides. It was great to finish up our 3 week California trip in San Francisco.

We had a busy few days. But we still did not see everything on our list. We returned our car when we arrived. So it was a bit hard to get to the 15th Avenue tiled stairs. We were really sorry we missed most of the street art. And Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont or the Japanese Garden would have been a lovely treat. But we know that we will be back!

Have you wandered the hills of San Francisco? What was your favourite activity?

PIN To Pinterest:

Up and Down The Hills Of San Francisco.jpg

Up and Down The Hills Of San Francisco.jpg

About TravelAtWill 485 Articles
Travel blogger and photographer! Scuba diving, luxury cruising, chocoholic, sea and sunshine addicts, camera attached and just generally curious! Join us on our adventures!

30 Comments

  1. I will be in the Bay Area this first week of August to celebrate our 11th Anniversary. Would you beiieve I have not seen the Sea Lions nor the Grace Cathedral? Thanks for the suggestions!

  2. Wow you guys packed a lot in! There are loads of things that I’ve done here, but you’ve given me plenty more ideas – time for a return visit?!

  3. Oh, I love San Francisco! You were so lucky to get 3 sunny days indeed! And the hotel Adagio looks like a perfect place to stay! I wish I could also do a road trip in California one day – it must be such a scenic drive! I´ve shared on mix and flipboard

    • Anna, We love travelling along the California coast. San Francisco is a great place to start or finish. We were indeed lucky to have sunny days for this visit. Although we have visited in the middle of June Gloom. Thanks for sharing this! Linda

  4. You know how much I love San Francisco, and your post reminded me how much I adore it! We’ve been lucky to get sunny weather for the bridge pics every visit – which is a rarity 😉 I love watching the sea lions frolic – they’re so humorous!

    • Hannah, I am so happy to bring back great memories for you and Roy. I love the bridge views in the sunshine. But the fog adds a mysterious element too. So many ways to enjoy this great city. Linda

  5. So many interesting things at San Francisco! I vote for the chocolate shop (of course!) the union square and the street art which indeed is a pity you didnt have enough time to discover more! Love the photos with the hearts too, nice insight of the city 🙂

  6. I love San Francisco! The sundaes at Ghirardelli are always a must have. I have not been to Grace Cathedral or Top of the Mark so now I have a few new stops for my next visit

  7. I LOVE San Francisco! Nothing is better than fresh sourdough bread and exploring the bay area! there is so much to see and do, it’s hard to fit it all in in a single visit! xo – Kam

  8. You certainly hit the top tourist things to do in San Francisco although I can’t say I’ve had a drink at the Top of the Mark at sunset. I love getting into some of the outer neighborhoods when I’m there. So much to see in the city by the Bay.

    • Elaine, We were happy to be back in San Francisco. So glad we had the chance to get to the Top of the Mark on this visit. The moon was full so the show was outstanding. Linda

  9. What a wonderful tour and packed with different experiences too. Loved the cathedral interiors, the stained glass windows. The vie from roof top is great.

    • Indrani, We do love stained glass windows. So we were happy we went inside this church. The Top of the Mark is definitely the spot for great views in San Francisco. Linda

  10. You did so much in San Francisco! And you did it all in just three days? Wow, I’m impressed. Funny that you mentioned Ghirardelli, because we were just at their other location in Monterey this past weekend. Put their hot fudge on anything, and it turns into amazing! I have also visited the Mechanical Museum and the waterfront area, seen the sea lions bantering with each other, and enjoyed the cable cars. These are iconic things to do that no one should miss!

    • Tami, We were glad to find a few new things to do on this return visit to San Francisco. I will have to visit the Ghirardelli shop in Monterey next time we are there. Linda

  11. SanFran looks like an amazing place to explore, no matter which way you go. I nearly spat my coffee out laughing at the giant crab statue.

  12. What timing! My brother is reaching San Francisco tomorrow here are the best things to do there . Thanks. Hope they get some sunny days there 🙂 . Your photos are awesome!

    • Vasu, I am sure your brother will have an amazing time in San Francisco. We have been several times and there is always something new to discover. Glad my list may help to provide a starting point. Linda

Leave a Reply