Friday, April 18, 2014

Trendy Travels: Backyard Bay - SF Tour Under $20

Looking to tour some of San Francisco's most iconic landmarks for under $20?
Follow this guide for a comprehensive and affordable view of SF.

Start off your day at the Ferry Building. If you are coming in on BART, get off at Embarcadero, walk a couple blocks towards the clock tower, and you're there!
Opened in 1898, the Ferry Building is a must stop for foodies. With gourmet restaurants in a market place set up, it's hard not to work up an appetite at the sight of so many savory delights. If those aren't enough options on certain days there is a Farmer's Market and a selection of food trucks to choose from.
Make sure to stop by the information desk and purchase a one-day MUNI pass for $15. This will grant you all day access to the PresidiGO (a free shuttle but with the pass you can ride at peak hours), the cable cars, as well as any of the MUNI buses around the city.
Be sure to check out the view at the back of the Ferry Building. It makes for a great photo spot.
Walk to the Transbay Terminal which is only a couple blocks away from the Ferry Building.
From there is the PresidiGo Downtown shuttle stop that will take you all the way up to the Presidio for free.
Take the shuttle all the way to the last stop, the Presidio Transit Center. There is a small cafe and restrooms up there. The Walt Disney Museum is also within close walking distance from this stop.
For more information of the PresidiGo visit their webpage HERE.
The downtown shuttle runs pretty frequently. With the MUNI pass you have access to travel times before 9AM and after 4PM. 
From the Presidio Transit Center take the Crissy Field PresidiGo Shuttle. With this route I'll highlight stopping at two main locations: the Golden Gate Bridge and the Palace of Fine Arts.
The Crissy Field schedule here indicates all the departure times from the main stops, making  it easy to plan your day.

First stop on this route is the Golden Gate Bridge. The shuttle takes you right up to the visitor's center and if you aren't sure where to get off, just ask the drivers, they're generally pretty friendly. 
The view is superb from this point and takes you pretty close to the bridge.
The visitor's center is also a great stop to use restrooms, pick up souvenirs, or grab a snack.
To get back on the shuttle just wait by the sign you were dropped off at. The shuttle on travels in one direction so don't worry about getting on at the wrong stop.
Next stop is the Palace of Fine Arts. Originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, this site makes a beautiful location for a stroll, photographs, or picnic.
The PresidiGo stop is a little inconspicuous so for what ever reason you forget where it is or can't find it, you will find it on the side of the structure where there is a side road and parking. There is a pole with a yellow strip that says PresidiGo stop. For some reason public transit markers in SF are sometimes just painted stripes on poles...
The surrounding area of the Palace of Fine Arts is also quite nice. It has a great view of San Francisco's iconic houses layered on the city's steep hills.
Take the PresidiGo back to the Transit Center and hop on their other shuttle line: Presidio Hills. From there I recommend getting off at Baker Beach.
Like the Crissy Field line, the Presidio Hills departure times are frequent and easy to track.
Baker Beach is a lovely spot to catch the sunset and fantastic view of the Golden Gate Bridge. The only point I will warn travelers is that the PresidiGo drops you off on the street level which is on top of the hill above Baker Beach. To get down to the Beach there is a road that takes you down there though it takes about 5-10 minutes to walk. If you are daring you can try going down the dirt hill along the side of the road which is steeper but a shorter distance to travel. So this stop may not be for people with a hard time walking.
Take the Presidio Hills shuttle back to the Transit Center. Get back on the Downtown line and get off at the Van Ness stop. It is the only stop in the middle of the route.
From there walk along Union St until you hit Hyde St. From there you can either hop on the Hyde St. cable car using your MUNI pass or you can walk up to Lombard St.
We took the cable car on Hyde St. which stopped right in front of Lombard St.
Lombard St. or also recognized as the iconic crooked street of San Francisco. 
It makes a great picture spot not only for its zig zag road but for its beautiful view of the city, Bay Bridge, and Coit Tower in the distance.
Get back to the cable car stop on Hyde and Lombard St. and take it until its final stop.
Here is where you can tour SF's famous Fisherman's Wharf. It's a pretty touristy location but a must see for first time visitors. There are a number of chain restaurants and shops.
 If you are seeking for something fast and casual to eat I recommend In-and-Out. If you're new to California you must at some point have their burgers. Being from the East Coast, I've had Five Guys and Shake Shack but I gotta say my favorite is now In-and-Out. There are not many In-and-Out locations in the Bay Area so the one in Fisherman's Wharf is a treat.
While Ghirardelli Square and Ripley's Believe it or Not museum are fun destinations to visit at Fisherman's Wharf, my favorite spot is the Musee Mecanique. It is a free arcade museum.
While it can be a bit eerie, the museum offers a window into antique forms of entertainment. I love looking at all the interesting machines and miniatures that so many were able to enjoy years ago.
If you keep walking along Beach St. down Fisherman's Wharf, you'll finally hit Pier 39.
There are more cute shops and restaurants but the highlight for me are the seals that reside there. 
To catch the cable car back to the downtown area head back to Fisherman's Wharf. If you're feeling tired you can catch the F street car with your MUNI pass.
Get on the cable car from the Beach and Hyde St. stop and ride it until the end of the line on Powell and Market St. The ride down is the perfect overview of the city as you ride up and down San Francisco's hilly streets.
The end of the line takes you right in front of the Powell BART station for those heading back to other parts of the Bay Area or if you still have time you can stop by Union Square and its shops or check out the Westfield Mall right across the street.

Though the itinerary is busy it is totally doable in one day! With the free PresidiGo shuttle and one day MUNI pass it's affordable to get a comprehensive full view of San Francisco's highlights.

Writer: Potato
Photographer:  Potato
Guest: Potato's Cousin

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