"San Francisco - "It's a free-for-all up there!"" Top 5 Page for this destination San Francisco by Ewingjr98

San Francisco Travel Guide: 9,334 reviews and 20,084 photos

San Francisco is a city of amazing diversity and stunning beauty. It is also a city of tremendous freedom and openness. George Lopez said it best when he referred to San Francisco with the quote "It's a free-for-all up there!"

My Visits to the City

I drove up to San Francisco from Monterey on Highway 1 along the beautiful California coast. I stayed in the Jack London Inn at Jack London Square in rough Oakland for two nights. The day I arrived in the city, I made my first stop the Golden Gate Bridge then drove down Embarcadero until I could get on the Bay Bridge to go to Oakland and check in.

After checking in and getting settled, I walked through Jack London Square then caught the ferry back to San Francisco...and saw the most beautiful sunset! Upon arriving in San Francisco, I walked up to Chinatown and grabbed dinner, then wandered toward North Beach, but the strip clubs convinced me this was not the area where I wanted to hang out (but I found out the next night that this is a great area!). After walking to Coit Tower then back to the piers, I jumped on the BART and went to Union Square. Looking for a few good, casual bars, I ended up walking clear into the Tenderloin district, then--since it was around 12:30am--I decided to head back to my hotel. A ride on the BART, followed by a quick walk through Oakland's seedy downtown, and I was back to my hotel and in bed.

The next day I slept in a little then headed to the Oakland Coliseum to see the A's versus the White Sox. After the game, I took the BART to downtown San Francisco and went to Embarcadero Square Mall then down the piers to Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf. I stopped at Buena Vista Cafe for their famous Irish coffee then walked up to Lombard Street to see the popular crooked street. After this I kept walking to North Beach where I had dinner and stopped at several bars. Around midnight I took the BART back to Oakland and spent about two hours at Heinold's First and Last Chance, now one of my favorite bars of all time.

The next morning, I checked out and drove back over the Bay Bridge (fighting traffic for 30-45 minutes despite the fact that it was Sunday morning) then found my way to Candlestick (Monster) Park to catch the 49ers game against the Rams. This weekend the home teams won. After the game it took about 2 hours to get out of the parking lot, but eventually I made it out to Hwy 1 and back to Monterey.

Second Trip -- 4 November 2006

I returned to San Francisco for a quick afternoon visit on my birthday. We drove up from the south on Interstate 280, parked at the BART station in Daly City, and took BART over to downtown Oakland for a quick visit to Jack London Square. After only about an hour there, we returned to San Francisco via the Trans-Bay Ferry to Pier 41. We had a quick lunch in the Fishermans Wharf area, then stopped for an Irish coffee at Buena Vista Cafe. After this, we walked up Hyde Street to Lombard Street, and down Lombard to North Beach. Finally we caught the Cable Car back over to Powell Street and took the BART back to Daly City.

Third Trip -- 26 November 2006

On a rainy day we drove up to San Francisco along Highway 1. Our first stop was Twin Peaks, where we had an OK view through the clouds, wind, and cold rain. Our next stop was the Golden Gate Bridge, then Lombard Street, and Coit Tower. Next we drove around town a little, through North Beach and China Town, before heading over to Jack London Square in Oakland.

Fourth Trip -- 18 April 2007

I had to drive up to the airport to pickup Lhenne1, so I decided to spend the afternoon in the city. My first stop was the old Spanish Mission, then I spent a few hours at Golden Gate Park. I then drove up the coast along the Great Highway to San Francisco's Point Lobos and Lincoln Park to watch the sun set. Later in the evening I visited Japantown then went to the airport to pick up my friend.

Fifth Trip -- 22-23 April 2007

Since my friend Laura had an early flight out of San Francisco Airport, we decided to drive up the day before and spend the night. We took Highway 1 up the coast, all the way to the Presidio Park at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. After exploring the old Presidio, we stopped in Japantown for a few hours to catch the tail end of the Cherry Blossom Festival. For dinner we headed into Chinatown, then swung through the Castro area on the way up to Twin Peaks to see the city after dark. We spent the night just outside of the airport in South San Francisco.

Sixth Trip -- 9 July 2007

Short drive to the airport from Monterey to pick up friends, so we decided to head up early and visit Fishermans Wharf area. A quick dinner then ice cream at Ghirardelli's and we were on our way.

Seventh Trip -- 14-15 July 2007

Bastille Day!?! Yes, we went to San Francisco with our French friend to celebrate Bastille Day. We started with a great picnic at a little park atop Nob Hill, then had drinks at the Marine Memorial Club. For dinner we went to the city's "Little French Quarter" and were followed by a San Francisco Chronicle photographer for a few hours (hey, we had funny red revolutionary hats on). The next day we wandered around Union Square, then took the historic streetcar down Market and up Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf. We then walked through Fort Mason and the Marina area to the Palace of Fine Arts before having dinner in the area.

Eighth Trip -- 10-11 August 2007

We saw a Pirates vs Giants game, and spent our entire visit at Union Square and SOMA.

Last Trip -- Memorial Day Weekend 2008

We made our last trip to the city for a Virtual Tourist gathering in North Beach! We arrived early and spent two days here tromping around the Mission District (Mission Dolores, Murals, Latin Carnival Festival, Mission Dolores Park), Chinatown (Hang Ah Tea Room, Portsmouth Square), Union Square, SoMa (Oola bar, Zeke's Sports Bar, Old US Mint, Courtyard By Marriott), and North Beach (Coit Tower, Knuckles Historical Sports Bar, Washington Square, Calzone's Restaurant, Golden Boy Pizza, Pasta Pomodoro).

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful city, Awesome & diverse neighborhoods; Great parks
  • Cons:Tenderloin area is rough; parking can be difficult
  • Last visit to San Francisco: Apr 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (107)

Comments (7)

  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
    Jun 7, 2015 at 5:25 AM

    Great page, great photos. Visited North America for the first time recently - Canada - and now I'm trying to persuade my husband we should go to San Francisco. Your beer tip could swing him to my way of thinking. All the best, Irene

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Dec 2, 2012 at 8:46 AM

    Top 5 page Joe!

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Jul 14, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    Excellent page Joe! You surely know SF and know of all the neat things to see and do. I enjoyed the lovely tour. We are planning hopefully this year to visit SF!

  • Lhenne1's Profile Photo
    Jun 22, 2008 at 6:06 PM

    You can never have enough dried shark fin!

  • atufft's Profile Photo
    May 30, 2008 at 8:01 PM

    Hey! You're writing the sort of tips I like to write :-) On a somber note, the military memorials around town have been too often ignored, so thanks for including them here on VT.

  • JessH's Profile Photo
    Sep 11, 2007 at 11:39 PM

    Really enjoyed your page about SF... truly a city that I HAVE TO visit sometime soon :-) Great tips, good personal insights and nice photos; my ratings are definitely with you on this one! Greetings from the desert / Jess

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Aug 12, 2007 at 11:51 PM

    Thanks for your informative page!

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