What to do in San Francisco: California Tours

(California Tours)The distance from Santa Cruz to San Francisco is 75 miles (you can cover them in 1 hour and 30 minutes ).

San Juan Bautista – Palo Alto (California Tours)

Next to the stop at Mission San Juan Bautista, you can make a stop in Palo Alto, at the NASA-AMES Exploration Center (you can see the International Space Station ), admission is free.

San Francisco

When you get to San Francisco despite being a city with almost a million inhabitants, it is more accessible than Los Angeles, since if you want, you can walk through it (similar to New York ). If it is not the first time that you come to the city, there are three very interesting exits of the city:

Oakland – Berkley

The visit to Oakland is concentrated between Broadway (the main artery of the city), Telegraph Ave, Clay St, 12th St, 13th St, and 14th St. In these streets you can see the Ronald Dellums Federal Building (Clay St), the Tribune Tower (13th St) and the City Hall (14th St) with huge oak, a symbol of the city.

Going down Broadway you will find the old part of the city, between 8th St and 10th St, they usually have a food market and there is a very good atmosphere. If you continue to the end of Broadway you will arrive at Jack London Square (pier full of shops and restaurants, it is interesting to take a walk until you reach the Yukon cabin ).

There is a free shuttle going down Broadway St to Jack London Sq, you can catch it at stops along the street. Walking these streets will not take you more than two-three hours.

Other recommended areas for a walk are Lake Merritt (Lakeshore Ave and Grand Ave); and Piedmont Ave (north of Oakland continuing on Boadway), which is a large avenue full of restaurants and shops that ends at the Mountain View Cemetery.

From Broadway and passing through a street full of dealerships (also known as Boadway Auto Row) you arrive in Berkley, before arriving you can stop for lunch at Southie (6311 College Ave), it is not too big but it has some very good sandwiches and salads.

One of the main streets to get to the University of Berkley is Shattuck Ave, this street is full of restaurants, clothing stores, and music. Another street you should go through is Telegraph Ave and visit the First Church of Christ Scientist (2619 Dwight Way) and the Julia Morgan Theater (2640 College Ave).

When you get to campus it is interesting to take a walk around it, it is much more manageable than the one at UCLA and there is a lot of atmospheres. Some reference stops are the Campanile (it is quite reminiscent of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, if you want to go up there is a cost) and the Bancroft Library. You can go to both Oakland and Berkley by public transport (recommended).

Take the BART network, in Oakland you have the stops at Lake Merritt and 12th St (yellow line). For Berkley, you have a stop at Downtown Berkley (orange line, the red one will also take you). The average cost of a round trip ticket is $ 3.50.

San Marín County (Marin Headlands)

You get here by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, once you pass it you have to take the signs to Alexander Ave, and from here turn onto Conzelman Rd, it is a narrow road with many curves that will take you to a viewpoint (from where if you are lucky, you will see spectacular views of San Francisco) and the Punta Bonita lighthouse.

This lighthouse has a coast guard that explains the origin of the lighthouse and you can cross to it. During the tour of this area, you will be able to see several bunkers and even attend a demonstration of how to mount a missile at the Nike Missile Site SF-88 (museum about the Cold War).

This tour can also be done by bicycle since in Fisherman’s Wharf there are several shops for bicycle rental if you cross the Golden Gate you have to have some physical form since Conzelman Rd has quite steep slopes.

From here you can make stops in Sausalito and Tiburon (both can also be reached from Fisherman’s Wharf by boat), they are two quite touristy towns, with a pleasant promenade and whose main interest is in seeing the aesthetics of the houses, their inhabitants, shops, and restaurants.

The next stop would be to eat in Mill Valley, it is a quite beautiful town because of the environment in which it is located, your interest lies in walking through it and getting to Old Mill Park to eat there (on Throckmorton Ave), if not, you can eat in any of its restaurants and bakeries. From here you can continue on Hwy101 to Larkspur, San Anselmo, Fairfax, and San Rafael (probably the least charming of the four previous towns), all of them are small towns surrounded by nature.

However, I recommend that in Mill Valley you take Hwy 1 to face the Pacific (there are impressive views of the coast) and get to Stinson Beach (a town that if you catch it in the sun it is highly recommended that you enjoy it for an hour, there is a very good atmosphere), and on the way down to San Francisco make the stops on Hwy 1o1 from the towns previously indicated.

Sonoma – Napa Valley

If you have to choose between one of these two counties, it would be Sonoma, it is a little smaller but more welcoming than Napa Valley. Both are to make a route through the ranches and vineyards.

In Sonoma, you will have fewer problems being able to go to a ranch without having made an appointment and taste their wines. You will see all of them during the tour of 121 and 12.

Then go to Downtown Sonoma, you have the Sonoma State Historic Park that consists of the San Francisco Solano de Sonoma Mission (E Spain St), the Sonoma Barracks and Casa Vallejo, its City Hall in the center of the plaza, and the Shops that are in the surroundings, all of them preserve a quite authentic historical aspect.

In the Mission you can do the tour on your own or with a guide, if you are lucky enough to be followed by Walter (the Mission’s volunteer guide), you will leave with a lot of data about how the mission worked (the 21st that is Construyo y la Ultima), the evangelization of the Indians and the general history of the missions that the Spanish built throughout all of California, explained in all kinds of details.

Downtown Napa is much more impersonal, is well maintained but no clear both the historical aspect of Sonoma. If you want to take a tour of its vineyards and/or do some tasting, you will have to make an appointment. Napa and Sonoma are connected by 121 and 12, between them there are barely more than 30 minutes, so you can spend the day between both valleys.

Mission, Castro, and Haight / Asbury neighborhoods

Before leaving San Francisco, it is advisable to take a tour of the Mission, Castro, and Haight / Asbury neighborhoods, especially for the atmosphere they have.

These three neighborhoods have their main interest walking them, in the case of Haight that you can take it from Market St to its court with Asbury, you will be able to enjoy the architecture of their houses, and in some cases very colorful.

The atmosphere is mainly concentrated between these two streets, full of hippie t-shirt and music stores, vintage fashion, restaurants, and murals painted on the walls of the buildings.

In the case of Castro, crowned by the rainbow flag, stroll through Castro St, Market St, 18th St, and Church St, it is where there is more activity with designer shops, bars, and restaurants. Do not leave without having portrayed Castro Theater, it is historical.

And in Mission, stop by Mission Dolores (Dolores St with 16th St), and stroll through Valencia St and Mission St with 16th St and 18th St, it is where the main commercial activity, bars, and restaurants are concentrated. Whether you come during the day or at night, make a stop at the Speccio restaurant, an industrial-looking restaurant where, while you eat, they show Sophia Loren movies, a cool point if you have one.

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