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Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 | 0 comments

Off the Beaten Path – San Francisco and the Bay Area

San Francisco is a fascinating city with lots of things to see and activities to indulge in. If you are a first time visitor recently arrived from flights to San Francisco, you should be happy to know that the city is only around 6 miles square, which means that sites are not too far away from one another. That said, here are a few guidelines to help you get along if you’re looking to visit this magnificent city any time soon.

San Francisco Skyline

San Francisco Skyline

Places to Visit and Things to Do

One of the first places you should visit while in San Francisco is Alcatraz Island. Also known as ‘the Rock’, it was originally a federal penitentiary between 1934 and 1963, hosting some of the country’s most notorious criminals, and while there, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery as well as check out the cell-block and gardens once maintained by hardworking prisoners.

Another place to visit is the Aquarium of the Bay, a non-profit center where you can get up close and personal with skates, sharks and bat rays that can be viewed behind clear acrylic tunnels. The aquarium has a large number of marine animals totaling more than 20,000. That said, if you’re into a bit of history, the de Young Museum won’t disappoint. It features a fine collection of American and international art pieces dating between the 17th and 20th centuries.

Brightly colored jellyfish

Brightly colored jellyfish

While on your sightseeing venture, the California Academy of Sciences should be in your itineraries. It is an architectural masterpiece as well as a museum that has a ‘Living Roof’ spanning about 2.5 acres made up of native plants, with the surrounding rolling hills blending it in to provide a breathtaking scenery. Its walls are mainly made of glass so as to allow natural sunlight.

Getting around

San Francisco is known for being one of America’s greenest cities, as its locals mainly prefer utilizing the city’s vast public transport network, which serves more than 200 million people a year. That said, the cable cars, buses, streetcars and subways help visitors navigate the city more easily, not to mention helping to avoid the parking hassles and traffic. The cable cars in particular are a must ride. You can board one at turnarounds along their route, usually marked by a brown and white cable-car stop sign, by waiting on the sidewalk and waving to the driver to stop. Another popular mode of travel in the city among locals and visitors are the electric street cars. Streetcar stops can mainly be found along Market Street, often close to bus-stop shelters.

Where to eat

Pocket-friendly eating joints are easy to locate in San Francisco, some of which include the Arinell Pizza shop. This joint serves great pizzas, with generous slices and properly molten cheese.

Another place is the Mission Bahn Mi, which makes arguably the city’s best Vietnamese sandwiches at the most affordable prices.

Los Panchos is another great joint for the budget conscious and if you choose to go there, you can enjoy a double order consisting of beans, cheese and meat, with cabbage coleslaw for less than five bucks.

Xiaolong bao or soup dumplings

Xiaolong bao or soup dumplings


Have you visited San Francisco? What are your recommendations?

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