IFLY tips San Francisco
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Bike the Golden Gate Bridge (½ day)
A wonderful way to see San Francisco is by bike. There are several rental services. A good one is Bike and Roll. They have several locations and different kind of bikes for rent. For more information, click here. And if your condition is not good, they also rent electric bicycles.
You can bike through the city, but a really good trip is to go over the Golden Gate Bridge and bike to the wonderful village of Sausalito. This is a beautiful tour and Sausalito is amazing. It looks like you’re somewhere in Italy.
From there you can take a ferry back to San Francisco. You can take your bike on the boat. It’s easy to do it on your own but if you like to do it in a group, Bike and Roll has a guided tour every day at 1 pm. The boats from Sausalito depart from 7.40 am to 7.55 pm and to 6.30 pm in the weekends. The boats leave about every 1 ½ hour. A ticket is $7,85.
Alcatraz, book it in advance (3 hrs)
As they advertise their own museum: It’s a crime not to go there, so while visiting San Francisco, you have to go to the famous Alcatraz Prison. Once home to some of America's most notorious criminals, the federal penitentiary that operated here from 1934 to 1963 brought a dark mystique to the Rock. The presence of infamous inmates like Al ‘Scarface’ Capone, and the ‘Birdman’ Robert Stroud helped to establish the island's notoriety. To this day, Alcatraz is best known as one of the world's most legendary prisons.
Alcatraz is located at an island and tours to the island can be very busy or expensive if you don’t book them in advance. So it’s advisable to book your tickets before you go there. Book them online, so you don’t have to queue for more then an hour. You can collect your pre-ordered tickets at a special counter at Pier 33, where the boats to Alcatraz leave. And you can even print your tickets at home, same like the modern e-tickets for the airlines. A pre-booked ticket will cost you $26,00.
Cable car (½ hr - 1 day)
Of course you have to drive the famous historic San Francisco cable car. Besides the fun, it brings you to many tourist places in San Francisco. And, as there are a lot of hills in the city, it’s very useful.
There are three lines and the cable car will bring you to Union Square for shopping, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf and many more places of interest. If you like to experience it the real way, you should ‘hang on’ to the special poles provided on the outside of the car.
A ticket can be bought at turnarounds or from the conductor as you board. A one-way ticket costs $3,00. There’s also a passport, which is perfect for visitors. Starting from $9,00 for one day to $20,00 for a week.
Lombard Street (½ hr)
Lombard Street located in the Russian Hill district between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets, is known as ‘the crookedest street in the world’ because of its eight sharp turns on a 40-degree slope. The turns, known as switchbacks, were built in the 1920’s to allow traffic to descend the steep incline.
Without a doubt this street is one of the landmarks of the city. It is used in many movies and photo-shoots, so it is the place to be to take your real San Francisco selfie. Drive through the street by car, walk on the stairways (without curves) and take your pictures.
Lombard Street might be the crookedest street; it is not the steepest street of San Francisco. That is Filbert Street, which is next to Lombard Street. This street has a gradient of 31,5 degrees.
Japanese Tea Garden (1 hr)
Inside Golden Gate Park you will find the beautiful Japanese Tea Garden. Stroll through this lush garden and have a delicious cup of Japanese tea. Try a Sencha, Genmaicha, Hojicha or a Macha tea.
The entrance fee is $7,00. There are also free admission hours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 am to 10 am. The opening hours are Nov-Feb: 9 am to 4:45 pm. Mar-Oct: 9 am to 6 pm.The garden is located at 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, in Golden Gate Park, east of Stow Lake, between John F. Kennedy Drive and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. At their website you will find the public transportation and parking options.
A visit to the garden could be a good combination with a segway tour in Golden Gate park or a visit to Haight Ashbury.
Segway tour in Golden Gate Park (2,5 hrs)
The most sensational way to explore the Golden Gate Park is by Segway. During a 2,5 hour guided tour you will glide through the roads and trails of this park, which is larger than New York City’s Central Park.
A tour costs $70 per person and the tour time includes 30-45 minutes of training. The starting point is in the paved area behind band stage concourse. 82 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive near the Japanese Tea Garden and the Academy of Sciences.
The Electric Tour Company offers other tours as well, like a Wharf tour, Advanced tour and Night tour. Check all the options, prices and starting points at their website.
Sailing the Bay (½ - 1 day)
If you like to be active and want to see great vies on San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, go sailing on the San Francisco Bay. You can rent a sailing boat but you need to be experienced. The wind and current can be very strong and there’s a lot of shipping activity in the bay. So if you’re not experienced, just take a ferry to Sausalito.
It’s wonderful to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz. You can rent a boat at several locations. Modern Sailing School & Club is a good one in Sausalito. They are located at 2310 Marinship Way. You can get more information at their website.
Another one is Cass' Marina, also in Sausalito. Besides boat rentals they also have skippered charters, which is a good option if you don’t have enough experience. For more information about that, check their website. Cass' Marina is located at 1702 Bridgeway at Napa Street in Sausalito.
Victorian houses (1 hr)
When you look at pictures of San Francisco you always see a row of wonderful painted Victorian houses, called painted ladies. These houses are located at Alamo Square. On a clear day you can see the city, Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge from the park. So you’ll have some wonderful picturesque moments.
A bit more north you can also visit the beautiful area called Pacific Heights. This is the neighborhood inside Bush Street, Presidio Avenue, Union Street, and Van Ness Avenue. In this neighborhood you will see many more beautiful houses. The architecture of the neighborhood is varied; Victorian, Mission Revival, Edwardian, and Chateau styles are common.
Most of the neighborhood's boutiques and restaurants can be found along Fillmore Street, south of Pacific Avenue. From the streets you have stunning views on the city, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island.
Walking from Alamo Square to Pacific Heights is about 20 minutes, but you can also take bus 22. Hayes Street is the stop for Alamo Square.
Muir Woods (½ - 1 day)
If you’ve seen enough in the city and like to see some real nature, only a few miles north of San Francisco, in an isolated canyon grows the ancient coast redwood forest known the world over as Muir Woods. The park offers solitude, interpretive displays and programs, and numerous hiking trails.
Best way to discover this amazing forest is rent a car, drive there and hike of course. Muir Woods National Monument is 11 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Take Highway 101 to the Highway 1/ Stinson Beach Exit. Follow the signs to Muir Woods. Roads to the park are steep and winding, so be careful.
The park is open from 8 am to sunset. Entrance fee is $5,00. The park is cool, shaded and moist year round. Daytime temperatures at Muir Woods average between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Be prepared for rain if visiting the park between November through April.
Haight-Ashbury (3 hrs)
Haight-Ashbury is a district of San Francisco, California, named for the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets. The district is noted for its role as a centre of the 1960s hippie movement and in 1967 the ‘Summer of Love’ started here. The 60s era and modern American counterculture have been synonymous with San Francisco and the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood ever since.
The area still maintains its bohemian ambiance. The neighbourhood remains a thriving centre of independent local businesses. It is home to a number of independent restaurants and bars, as well as clothing boutiques, booksellers, head shops and record stores. The neighbourhood is home to many restored Victorian houses. Painted Lady Victorians are a common sight throughout the neighbourhood.
Haight-Ashbury Street Fair is held on the second Sunday of June each year, during which Haight Street is closed down between Stanyan and Masonic.
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Language of the world
Of course you like to speak a few words of the local language onboard the plane or at your destination. Here you find some simple basics of the main language spoken in San Francisco.