Trip Date 08/25/2017
Posted On 06/05/2018 13:47:05
Destinations | California | San Francisco | Walk | Bridge | Pier 39 | Sea Lions | Ghirardelli Square | Hyde Street Pier
Since we've visited San Francisco annually for the past few years, we decided to wander at our own pace until our planned evening meeting with Scott's son Matt for happy hour and dinner.
If you are a local or have visited the city by the bay on multiple occasions like we have, take a look below for a combination of some well known tourist attractions plus a couple of less visited sights which can be all be visited in one day for a total of $10.00 (or less) plus the cost for your transportation.
Golden Gate BridgeThe sky was blue and clear when we finished breakfast, so I suggested that we walk across the 1.7 mile Golden Gate Bridge as was recommended by a local who we met on our flight. We purchased several Muni mobile tickets and boarded a 5R bus nearby our breakfast venue in the Haight-Ashbury area. After a transfer to bus 28, we soon arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center. It was fun to see the signage and flower beds promoting the 80th birthday celebration of the bridge which opened to pedestrians on May 27, 1937 and to vehicles on the following day.
Why is it that the clouds come out of their hiding places every time we get near the Golden Gate Bridge? Due to the sky's changing condition, we decided to forgo our walk across the bridge - maybe next year!
Tips for Visiting the Golden Gate BridgeIf you have an interest in walking across the bridge or learning about the history of the bridge, here's a few hints to help you plan your visit:
- The east sidewalk of the Golden Gate Bridge is open from 5:00 AM to 6:30 PM (5:00 AM to 9:00 PM during daylight savings) for pedestrians wishing to walk across all or a portion of the bridge.
- Free (donations welcome!) walking tours of the bridge are offered by San Francisco City Guides on Thursdays and Sundays each week with additional days added when guides are available.
- In addition to offering souvenirs for sale, the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center (9:00 AM to 6:00 PM daily) is home to both indoor and outdoor (in the plaza) exhibits which help visitors learn about the engineering and history of the bridge.
San Francisco's Pier 39Another Muni ride on bus 28 with a transfer to bus 47 took us to the Fisherman's Wharf area. We hoped to sit on a bench overlooking the bay, as we did on our previous visit, listening to a performance by street musicians. Since there was no music when we arrived, we headed toward Pier 39 to check on the sea lions. It was there that we learned that Pier 39 is 39! - October 4, 2017 marked another birthday celebration in the city.
After watching and listening to the sea lions, we walked upstairs and made a stop at the Sea Lion Center before wandering through the retail and dining establishments on Pier 39. Some fun facts that I learned about sea lions included:
- today's count: 270 sea lions;
- mostly males, the sea lions are all California sea lions;
- the sea lions can swim 25 miles per hour and can hold their breath for 10 minutes; and
- the sea lions are all "wild" - they feed themselves and come and go as they please.
The sea lions can typically be seen on Pier 39's K-Dock from late July through mid-May. While most leave during June and July, in recent years a smaller number have remained at the dock year round.
Ghirardelli SquareIt was time for an afternoon treat, so we began walking along The Embarcadero and at Powell Street continued our walk on to Jefferson Street. After several blocks, we made a left turn on to Hyde Street where we came upon a historic cable car - no visit to the city is complete without riding (or at least seeing) one of these San Francisco icons.
Since we only had another block to get to our destination, we opted for a cable car photo thereby avoiding the $6.00 fare. After all of the walking and Muni bus rides, we were ready for a treat only available in San Francisco - a sundae from the original ice cream fountain in Ghirardelli Square (801 Beach Street; San Francisco, CA 94109).
San Francisco Maritime National Historical ParkAfter indulging in our calorie laden desserts, we made a stop at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park which, in all of our visits here, we had never before noticed. (Having purchased an America the Beautiful annual pass has made us more aware of the national parks in the USA.) We started with a free self-guided tour of the historic brick cannery warehouse building (circa 1908), home of the visitor center. In addition to a "First Order Fresnel lighthouse lens", there were numerous displays, interactive exhibits and a video presentation which would, all together, take a couple of hours to complete a thorough tour.
Hyde Street PierWe crossed Jefferson Street and walked to the ranger station for the Hyde Street Pier where visitors are typically required to pay a $10.00 per person entrance fee. As August 25th was Founder's Day, the entrance fee was waived for all visitors. The pier was home to a fleet of historic vessels which we had the opportunity to board and tour including:
- 1890 (circa) San Francisco Bay Ark
- 1890 steam ferryboat Eureka
- 1891 scow schooner Alma
- 1895 schooner C. A. Thayer
- 1907 steam tug Hercules
- 1914 paddlewheel tug Eppleton Hall
On its lower deck, the steamboat ferry Eureka had a display of very well preserved vintage cars that were really of interest to Scott - including a bright blue 1924 Dodge Express Wagon.
After wandering through many of the historic vessels, we realized that it was getting late and, since we planned to meet Matt, we needed to start on our way toward the China Basin District.
Salesforce TowerAs we were walking along The Embarcadero, we noticed a skyscraper that we had also not seen on previous visits.
As a 2018 completion of Salesforce Tower is expected, maybe we will have a new 61 floor building to tour on a future visit to San Francisco - probably next year!
Tips for Touring the San Francisco Maritime National Historical ParkThe San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park includes several tourist attractions concentrated just west of Fisherman's Wharf (see maps):
- The Visitor Center, located at 499 Jefferson Street (at Hyde) offers free, self-guided tours of the on-site displays and interactive exhibits.
- The grassy area located outside of the Visitor Center overlooks the Aquatic Park cove and beach. From there, visitors can access the water's edge, a great vantage point for photos of the bay, the bridge and more.
- Across from the Visitor Center is Hyde Street Pier, home of the fleet of historic vessels. Open year round for touring, the $10.00 per person admission fee valid for seven days (children 15 and under plus those with an America the Beautiful annual pass enter for free) includes access to board the historic ships.
- Located two blocks from the Visitor Center in the Aquatic Park Bathhouse Building (900 Beach Street at Polk) is the Maritime Museum (10:00 AM - 4:00 PM daily). In addition to being the focal point of the Aquatic Park Historic Landmark District, the museum displays art and murals created during the 1930s.
- The Maritime Research Center (Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Blvd., Building E) is a 10-minute walk from Hyde Street Pier and is available by appointment only for those interested in maritime research.
Golden Gate ParkIf you have spent a lot of time living in or visiting San Francisco, you have likely visited Golden Gate Park but may not have seen all that the park has to offer. If that statement rings true for you, or if you are visiting San Francisco and enjoy the outdoors, take a look at our post titled "Walking Through Golden Gate Park" for some low or no cost ideas.
Iconic San Francisco LandmarksWhat is your favorite landmark in the San Francisco Bay Area, and what recommendations do you have for others visiting that landmark?
Total Health App steps today: 21,385
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