Our Final Stop In 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
From the waterfront, we looked backup the hills of San Francisco. We saw the iconic buildings that dominated the skyline.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
We loved to wander and find the architectural gems when we wandered around San Francisco. The buildings were colourful and fanciful.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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