3 To See in San Francisco

I am pleased to introduce you to a fellow travel blogger, Cat Lincoln, who has generously offered to share a guest post about her city with us while I’m on vacation.

 

I love sightseeing, but the pressure to hit a laundry list of attractions can make your vacation feel like a competition, or even worse, work! One tactic that helps me keep my “must see” list under control is to limit it to three destinations. List checkers like my husband still feel like they’ve “accomplished” something. And it gives dawdlers like me enough space on our itinerary to enjoy a second cup of coffee – or aperitif – at a charming, out of the way café.

Here’s my “Three to See” in San Francisco!

Crissy Field and Golden Gate Bridge

As soon as you catch sight of the iconic red-orange Golden Gate Bridge, stretching across to Marin County, you’ll be glad you made the trip to Crissy Field in the historic Presidio National Park, even if you just get out of the car for a few minutes and soak up the views.

Wind, rain or shine, the Bay is filled with sailors and surfers. The island of Alcatraz seems close enough to touch, the San Francisco skyline stretches out to your right, and the seaside town of Sausalito, which will look familiar from many appearances on TV and in movies, is just across the bay.

History and aviation buffs will be fascinated by Crissy Fields’ decommissioned hangers, and vintage photos of aircraft dating back to the earliest days of flight.

You can bring a picnic lunch, pick up sandwiches and drinks at the Crissy Field Center or get an organic snack at the cute – and aptly named — Warming Hut Café.

Just remember to bring an extra sweatshirt or two – even when the famous fog is away, it’s still one of the windiest places in the city.

The Exploratorium

Just a few steps away from Crissy Field, at the Palace of Fine Arts, you’ll find the Exploratorium, a family friendly “Museum of science, art and human perception.”  There are loads of interactive exhibits, and touching is encouraged – at last, a fun museum for the kids! In fact, it’s a hand-on learning environment for kids of all ages.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $14 for adults, $11 for seniors, people with disabilities and youth ages 13-17, and $9 for each little one between 4-12. Under 3, get in free! Also, the admission is free the first Wednesday of every month, but plan to arrive early to beat the crowds.

The Exploratorium is also a part of the CityPass program, which is definitely worth considering if you plan to hit a few museums during your visit to SF:

The Ferry Building and Farmer’s Market

If you don’t have time to visit the Central Valley farms and Napa Valley vineyards, take an afternoon at the Ferry Building  at the base of Market Street in the heart of downtown San Francisco. Foodies in particular will enjoy this recently renovated emporium that celebrates the local culture of food.

Open storefronts display the best produce, wine, cheese, chocolate and aromatic oil olive from the region. You can sample cuisine prepared in styles from around the globe. And on Tuesdays and Saturdays a Farmer’s Market with dozens of stalls fills your senses with the sights and aromas of fruit, vegetables and flowers.

There’s no charge to stroll through the Ferry Building or Farmer’s Market, but be warned: your pocketbook will be tempted by gelato, fresh bread and gorgeous organic produce at every turn!

Cat Lincoln is a freelance writer and social media consultant based in San Francisco, where she and her husband are often mistaken for tourists because they always have such a good time. In addition to sharing her favorite travel tips on UpTake, she is a contributor to style and green sites including StyleList, GreenDaily, and Tonic News.  Cat is also the co-founder of humorous pop culture sites 40 Whatever and wishbone clover.

In her spare time Cat is an amateur photographer, and is always on the lookout for new and exciting restaurants, especially ones with good desserts.

Photo credit:  Cat Lincoln

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Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

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