The home where pioneering LGBTQ and civil rights activists Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin lived for more than five decades may become a local historic landmark, as the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has taken the first step towards giving it that designation. The two women may be best known as the first same-sex couple to marry legally in San Francisco, but the legacy of these mothers of our movement is bigger than that.
Martin and Lyon in their living room c. 1990s (courtesy GLBT Historical Society)
The home, where Martin and Lyon lived together from 1955 until Martin’s death in 2008, and where Lyon remained until her death, is a 750-square-foot cottage on a mostly undeveloped double lot in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood. The property sold for $2.25 million this September. The sale caught the attention of Shayne Watson, a historian who co-wrote San Francisco’s LGBTQ Historic Context Statement in 2016. “I was alarmed when I saw an article about the sale touting how profitable it would be to redevelop the property,” said Watson in a press statement. “The Lyon-Martin house is not only one of the most significant queer sites in the city, but a place of international importance—truly a birthplace of LGBTQ-rights movements worldwide.”
“The home of Lesbian icons and human rights leaders Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin in San Francisco is vital to LGBTQ as well as San Francisco and American history,” said Dr. Marcia Gallo, professor emerita at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and author of Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movements. “From the mid-1950s to 2020, with its large open living room windows looking out on the city they loved so dearly, the Lyon Martin House not only sheltered them and their family and friends but also welcomed activists, journalists, politicians and other change-makers throughout the nation and the world.”
The neighborhood, however, has seen much recent redevelopment, with many older homes torn down to be replaced by new ones. Watson therefore brought together historians, friends and former caregivers of Lyon and Martin, and members of the broader queer community to establish Friends of the Lyon-Martin House in partnership with the GLBT Historical Society. After meeting with the group, Mandelman introduced a resolution in late September nominating the home as a historic landmark. On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve it. This begins a process in which the City’s Planning Department and Historic Preservation Commission has 90 days to issue a recommendation to the Board, which would then take final action to designate the landmark. That status would mean that future development and uses of the property would be subject to review by the Historic Preservation Commission.
In 1955, Martin and Lyon were among the eight founders of Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), the first political lesbian rights organization in the U.S. In 1956, the organization held the first known discussion groups on lesbian motherhood. The two worked tirelessly for decades on LGBTQ equality, women’s rights, stopping violence against women, healthcare access, advocacy for seniors, and much more. Martin founded or co-founded numerous other women’s and LGBT organizations, including the Lesbian Mother’s Union, the San Francisco Women’s Centers, the Bay Area Women’s Coalition, and the Council on Religion and the Homosexual in San Francisco. She and Lyon were the first lesbians to insist on joining the National Organization for Women (NOW) with a “couples’ membership rate” and Martin was the first out lesbian on its board of directors. Lesbian/Woman, the book they co-authored in 1972, was a groundbreaking portrayal of lesbian lives.
In 2004, Martin and Lyon were the first same-sex couple to be married by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. They were plaintiffs in the case that won marriage equality for same-sex couples throughout California in 2008. Martin died in 2008, shortly after their legal marriage; Lyon died this past April. They are survived by a daughter, two grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Terry Beswick, executive director of the GLBT Historical Society, says on the Friends of the Lyon-Martin House website, “I can see it in the future being a destination as an archival site for GLBTQ rights and women’s rights here in San Francisco.”
Perhaps they’ll also have a gift shop with books by and about the couple and the LGBTQ equality movement. If so, it should include Gayle Pitman’s picture book When You Look Out the Window(Magination Press), which shows how the two women fell in love, bought a house, and worked to transform their community.
(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)
Welcome to San Miguel de Allende’s Antigua Capilla Bed and Breakfast, where we provide world-class hospitality, comfort and luxurious relaxation.
At Antigua Capilla B&B, we have fantastic views of the Parroquia and the city center from our outdoor living area and rooftop terrace. Our centrally located San Miguel B&B is just five minutes from the popular local Mexican artisan’s market on foot, and a ten- to fifteen-minute walk downhill will being you to the central Jardin in the historic San Miguel town square.
Your hosts Antonieta and Francisco welcome you to their beautifully furnished San Miguel de Allende Bed & Breakfast. Each of our ten unique guest rooms is decorated with handicrafts from all over Mexico, including copper from Santa Clara del Cobre in Michoacan and Mata Ortiz Pottery from Chihuahua.
Antigua Capilla B&B blends Spanish colonial architecture with a host of modern conveniences.
See the Antigua Capilla B&B Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here
Guanajauto Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals
San Francisco is one of our favorite cities in the world. In fact, we love it so much that we decided to live in SF for a few months after leaving Paris. During our time in the City, we got to explore it in depth. From the Golden Gate Bridge to Twin Peaks, from Ocean Beach to Mission Bay, we discovered the hilly city almost entirely on foot.
Together with our fellow travelers, we’ve made a list of our favorite things to do in San Francisco. So, if you’re planning to visit the Bay Area, then these recommendations are for you.
Explore the Palace of Fine Arts
By Mei from Travel with Mei and Kerstin
The Palace of Fine Arts was the very first place we visited in San Francisco back in 2009. We took a bus from Los Angeles to spend a weekend in San Francisco. And the first thing we saw when we woke up was this pseudo-Ancient Greek temple.
Located on Baker Street in the Marina District, the Palace of Fine Arts was originally built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a world’s fair that celebrated the Panama Canal’s opening. The doomed rotunda was filled with over 12,000 artworks to be showcased during the temporary exhibit. And it was meant to be torn down when the exposition ended 9 months later. However, San Franciscans liked the Palace of Fine Arts so much, that they decided to keep this monument from the exhibition. So, it continued to house art exhibits until WWII.
Since the original structure was not meant to be permanent, it was built with wood, plaster and burlap. Due to vandalism, the Palace of Fine Arts slowly crumbled in ruins by the 1950s. But thanks to a wealthy philantropist, the monument was completely rebuilt in more enduring concrete. In the 1970s, it became home to the Exploratorium interactive museum. Today, it serves as a theatre and hosts film festivals, live performances and other cultural events.
Even if you don’t want to watch a show or concert in the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, it is worth visiting this landmark. The Palace is surrounded by a park that features beautiful lawns that are perfect for a picnic, and a tranquil lagoon filled with fish and turtles. You can reach the Palace of Fine Arts via Muni, and stroll around as long as you want from 6am to 9pm.
Eat Dim Sum in Chinatown
By Charles from Mc Cool Travel
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in the USA. Established in 1848, it houses the largest population of Chinese people outside of Asia. Visitors from USA can experience authentic Chinese food, art, culture, and history without even bringing their passport (and save a lot of money!).
They host the largest Chinese New Year Parade and celebration in North America if you are fortunate enough to visit at that time. A convenient spot to enter Chinatown is through the Dragon’s Gate at Grant Avenue and Bush Street, a 10-minute walk from the iconic Transamerica Building. I love walking up and down the Chinatown streets and alleys, and find something new on every visit. Last time I paid attention to the produce market prices and was astonished that nearly everything in Chinatown was 1/2 the price of even the cheapest markets. Grapes were 99 cents a pound and avocados were 2 for $1. Prices for San Francisco souvenirs are also lower here than in other touristy spots in the city. Look for unique items for your friends and family, like silk coin purses and robes.
Stop at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in Ross Alley to see the treats hand made and packaged. Nearby Hang Ah Tea Room is the first US place to serve Dim Sum (in 1920). Wing Sing and Good Mong Kok (yes, that is its name!) are two other fantastic Dim Sum places in Chinatown. Both are on Stockton Street and accept cash only.
Walk up to the Painted Ladies
By Karen from World Wide Writer
One of my favourite things to do in San Francisco is to walk the streets and look at the buildings. Unusually for a US city, it is not the modern architecture that is the most impressive. But the grand Victorian houses that still remain in large numbers. One of the best places for architecture-spotting is the Alamo Square Historic District, is full of 19th century mansions in a variety of styles.
The most famous buildings here are the Painted Ladies. Sometimes also known as the Seven Sisters, it’s a row of houses built at the end of the 19th century. It became fashionable in the 1960s to paint the Victorian houses in bright colours. And each of the Painted Ladies has a different hue. Although – apart from the colour – the houses seem almost identical, look carefully and you’ll note a variety of unique architectural detail on each building. It is quite possible that the houses will look familiar to you. They have appeared in numerous films and TV programmes.
The Painted Ladies are on the Steiner Street side of Alamo Square. And you can get there by buses no 5, 21, 22 or 24. The houses are privately owned, so you can’t see inside. However you can look at the outside at no charge. There are also several tour companies that include The Painted Ladies in their itineraries.
The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps are a must see in San Francisco! They are absolutely stunning and made of different pieces of colorful mosaic tiles. The 163 stairs were decorated in a sea to stars theme by two artists who were commissioned by the neighborhood itself in an attempt to beautify the Golden Gate Heights area.
San Francisco can be an expensive city, and one of the best things about the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps is that they’re free! No need to pay for parking, either – just be aware that it’s in a residential neighborhood, so be sure not to block any driveways. You’ll find the steps on Moraga Street, between 15th & 16th Ave. Remember to remove all valuables from your car and leave nothing visible. You should do the same everywhere in San Francisco, but especially in tourist locations. Please take this seriously – one of my friends had his car’s back window smashed and his backpack stolen.
If you climb the stairs above the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps to Grandview Park, you’ll find a beautiful view of the city. Walk over to the Moraga Stairs for a nice sunset watching spot! You can visit the steps from 9:30AM-5:30PM M-F, and 10:30AM-5:30PM on weekends.
Lombard Street in San Francisco is an iconic site to visit. Located in the Russian Hill neighborhood, this is the winding road that you’ve probably seen photos of! The crooked street is located within 20 minutes walking distance from Fisherman’s Wharf. If you start at Fisherman’s Wharf, walk west until you get to Van Ness Ave. You then walk south on Van Ness, until you can turn west on Lombard Street. It’s a bit difficult to see how twisty the street is from the ground, but you know that you’re in the right place when you see all the tourists standing on their toes to take photos!
If you are driving, you can wait in line for a little bit and drive down Lombard Street following a caravan of cars. When I visited, I have also seen quite a few Segway or electric scooter tours that will drive you down Lombard Street. If you are on foot, you are welcome to walk up or down along the sidewalk. If you get to the top of Lombard Street, you can take a great skyline view of the San Francisco road. This is a site that you have to visit at least once in your life, because of how iconic it is. You will definitely see many photos of Lombard Street taken from the sky on San Francisco postcards!
Stroll around in the Presidio
By Eunice Tan
Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Presidio used to be a military fort. But it is now transformed into a lovely national park. To get to Presidio, you can take bus 45 from Union Square.
The bus will drop you off at the east of the park at the Letterman drive. Take a walk around the Letterman water pond, a serene corner of the park where you can also see the regal Palace of Fine Arts. The area also houses Industrial Light & Magic, the animation and VFX arm of Lucasfilm. If you’re a fan of Star Wars, don’t miss the Yoda statue in the park.
Further into the center of the park, about 12 minutes on foot, is the Walt Disney Family Museum. The museum commits to preserving and showcasing Walt Disney’s legacy and occasionally holds themed exhibitions. An adult ticket costs $25.
From the Walt Disney Family Museum, you can embark on the Presidio Promenade Trail towards Crissy Field Overlook. There you get an enthralling panoramic view of the sea and the San Francisco skyline. My preference though is to cut across Crissy Field to the beach. Enjoy the sea breeze while walking along the coastline towards Torpedo Wharf. At the wharf, get a drink and rest your feet at Warming Hut. This cozy establishment is refurbished from a US Engineer Storehouse but is now a welcoming cafe and gift shop. Warming Hut not only sells fair trade coffee, drinks, and snacks. They also stock locally made souvenirs and have a curated book selection. After you are well-rested, continue up to the Golden Gate Bridge viewpointfor excellent views of the iconic suspension bridge.
Eat your way through the Ferry Building
By Wendy from Empty Nesters Hit the Road
The Ferry Building is among San Francisco’s most recognizable buildings. Located on the waterfront, it is close to the Bay Bridge. And this has long been the place where people catch a boat to places like Richmond, Oakland and Alameda. But in 2003 the Ferry Building reopened as a world class food hall offering small markets and cafes along with upscale restaurants.
Today dozens of artisan shops line the main hall including bakeries, cheese shops and ice cream stores. Some of San Francisco’s best restaurants are here like The Slanted Door. Every day, locals and tourists arrive in this iconic place to enjoy all kinds of food.
On Saturdays, the Ferry Building hosts a large Farmer’s Market outside its walls. Hundreds of stalls sell fresh produce, along with flowers and other specialty goods. On the busiest of weekends more than 15,000 people will visit both the inside and outside vendors. Making this among the most popular attractions in San Francisco.
In addition to food, the Ferry Building offers great views of the harbor. If you’re looking for a romantic San Francisco weekend, try visiting at night to see the lights of the bay bridge. And then take a stroll along the Embarcadero. There is no admission to the Ferry Building. To make the most of your visit, get here early before it gets too crowded. And since parking is limited and expensive, arriving by public transportation or Uber is a better bet.
Visiting the Fisherman’s Wharf is definitely one of the best things to do in San Francisco. Because of the bustling vibes, history, wide variety of food choices (the crabs!), plenty of unique attractions and a bunch of events to keep visitors entertained. Encompassing the waterfront area from Ghirardelli Square to Pier 35, Fisherman’s Wharf is busy from the first ray of the sun to many hours after sunset.
Sitting on a bench here, you’ll see people from all around the country or the world. Whizzing through the streets or ambled around while window-shopping or simply looking for something to munch. And yes, there are all sorts of restaurants (mostly seafood restaurants). But also bakeries, patisseries, and more. Even packaged fried crickets and lollipops bigger than your face.
If you have a whole day and was wondering what to do, why not take a tour to the famous Alcatraz Island? Just make sure you book in advance as tickets often run out, especially in the summer when nobody stays indoor. While you’re there, make sure to make a quick visit to Musée Mécanique as well. This museum is home to numerous decades-old arcade machines. Some of them were existing since the 1800s. Sounds pretty cool, right? It’s free to enter by the way. Oh ya, one more thing that you should never miss out on: watching the sea lions taking long naps at Pier 39.
Visiting Fisherman’s Wharf is completely free. But the expenses vary widely depending on what you eat. Most of the restaurants in this area are not cheap. So expect to spend a minimum of $20 per person on each meal. If you went for the seafood or the crabs, it could shoot up to several hundred per person. Nothing much to spend here other than the foods anyway.
Get curious in the California Academy of Sciences
By Constance from The Adventures of Panda Bear
When you think of San Francisco, you might think of cable cars and Fisherman’s Wharf. While those are great places to visit in the city, California Academy of Sciences, one of the premier natural history museums in the world, is also a wonderful spot to visit in San Francisco.
Once you walk into the museum you are welcomed into the building by their 30-foot T.rex skeleton. And their 87-foot long blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling. The two creatures are amazing to see in real life.
California Academy of Sciences is home to over 46 million specimens. 38,000 of them are alive and on display at the museum’s Steinhart Aquarium. The Steinhart Aquarium has a variety of exhibits ranging from coral reefs from the Philippines to the California Coast. There’s also a swamp, a tidepool, and even a rainforest. The museum also has a variety of exhibits including a planetarium, earthquake simulator, and pendulum. One of the most famous things to see at the museum is their rare albino alligator. Its white skin and red eyes is super unique.
Located inside Golden Gate Park, you can easily take the Muni bus or drive to the museum. General admission to California Academy of Sciences is on a sliding scale based upon availability and popularity. It ranges between $30.75 and $39.75 for adults. And varies between $24.50 and $31.00 for youth, aged 3-17.
One of my favorite things to do when I visit San Francisco from my home across the bay in Berkeley is to ride on one of the historic F cars (officially known as the Market Street Railway F-Line). That would be on one of the colorful vintage electric trolley cars that is in the city’s fleet of 90. It includes old street cars from around the U.S. and the world. There’s a pretty gold Italian one that everyone seems to particularly like. And I once just missed a rickety wooden one with a sign saying “Desire” on the back. And, of course, everyone wants to ride the open-air boat-like car from Blackpool, England.
Inside, most of the cars are labeled with where they are from. Though fares might be raised this summer, right now it costs just under $3 one way. And about half that for senior citizens. Trolleys run for 5 miles from the Castro District to Fisherman’s Wharf. Though most people catch it downtown, which is midway, and ride one of those two directions. These streetcars are basically a rolling living museum. And like San Francisco’s famous cable cars, they are fun to ride and get you where you want to go!
If you love panoramic views, Coit Tower is an attraction in San Francisco that you won’t want to miss! The observation deck at the top of this distinctive concrete structure offers stunning 360-degree photo-ops of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the Financial District skyline. I recommend visiting towards the beginning of your trip so that you can not only enjoy the views, but also get a sense of where the city’s other famous attractions are.
When I went to Coit Tower, there was a short wait in the lobby to go up. Because the tower’s single elevator can only carry about eight people at a time. However, you’ll want to take this time to enjoy the beautiful murals adorning the walls that depict California’s history in the 1930s. As you arrive to the top, prepare for a bit of wind (a light jacket might be a good idea) and some really breathtaking views!
Coit Tower is located on Telegraph Hill in the North Beach area. It’s only a twenty-minute walk from both the Financial District and Fisherman’s Wharf. But expect an uphill journey no matter which direction you’re coming from! Because it’s at the top of the hill, you’ll be able to see its distinctive shape and arched windows over the nearby houses and apartments as you approach. Entrance for visitors from outside San Francisco costs 9 USD per adult.
Find Flower Power in Haight Ashbury
Sherianne from Out Of Office
We’ve all heard about the Summer of Love and it all began in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood. People flocked to the area for peace, love, music, and drugs. People still flock to the area to get a glimpse of what life in The Haight was like. The hippie movement and flower children are gone but traces do remain.
Today you will find memorials to Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix taped to lampposts and roped off with continually lit candles. A mural of Jimi Hendrix is painted on one of the walls of his old apartment and peace signs are posted in stores along Haight Street. There is a marijuana distillery, Amoeba Music continues to sell vinyl, and tie-dye is everywhere. Grab some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and take a walk into the neighborhood to check out the old Victorian homes.
The Grateful Dead, Hell’s Angels, Janis Joplin, Sid Vicious, Charles Manson and the ransom house of Patty Hearst are all just a few steps off Haight Street. Pause for a minute next to the Grateful Dead house at 710 Ashbury St and consider. Most of their music was written here with Janis Joplin living across the street and the Hell’s Angels a few doors down. This street has experienced some crazy times!
On weekends you will still find drum circles on Hippie Hill in nearby Golden Gate Park. Grab some tie-dye and a hula hoop and join the fun. You can reach Haight Ashbury on the N light rail train from downtown or the hop on hop off bus has a Haight Ashbury stop.
The MOMA museum is one of the best things to do in San Francisco. And it is an absolute must for art lovers visiting the city. With works by the likes of Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol as well as an outdoor sculpture garden and a thirty-foot living wall, MOMA is likely to be one of your real highlights when looking back on your trip.
The gallery features a range of static favorites and ever-changing exhibits to ensure that everyone is catered for. And that there is always something new to see and do. There is also a Modern Cinema, gift shop and a number of on-site dining options.
Not only is MOMA perfect for culture-loving travelers but it’s also a great family option as kids go fre. The gallery costs $25 for adults, $19 for 19-24-year-olds and is free for anyone aged 18 and under. This means it’s both cultural and cost-effective. And can be an ideal back-up plan for days when the heavens open unexpectedly!
Situated in the SoMA region of San Francisco, MOMA is easily accessible. Regardless of whether you are traveling on foot, by public transport (close to BART and Muni), by car or bike. The main entrance of the museum is located at 151 Third Street, which is where the parking lot is situated. But there is also an additional entrance on Howard Street if that is more convenient. Please note, SFMOMA is closed on Wednesdays.
Go Street Art hunting in the Mission District
By Kerstin from Travel with Mei and Kerstin
Street art is everywhere in San Francisco. But no place can beat the Mission District for outdoor murals. This neighborhood is home to many Central American immigrants since the 1940s. And it has certainly the largest concentration of murals in the city. Inspired by Diego Rivera’s paintings, and initiated by the Chicano Art Mural Movement of the 1960s, the street arts in this area focus on post-Mexican Revolution ideologies. As well as indigenous North and Central American social and political issues.
When we explored the Mission District murals, we loved Isaias Mata’s “500 Years of Resistance” on St Peter’s Church. It depicts how indigenous people of the Americas fought against conquistadores throughout the years.
Also at the corner of 24th Street, we were amazed by Juana Alicia’s “La Llorona’s Sacred Waters”. It portrays a Mexican myth of the woman who drowned her children and is damned to weep for them. This classical myth reflects Bolivian women struggling and protesting for the water rights in their country.
Balmy Alley, located between 24th and 25th Streets, is where murals with social and political themes collide in the Mission District. Not only walls, but also garage doors and back fences of this narrow street are fully covered with more than 30 mural paintings. The first one was created in 1971. In the 1980s, a group of artists collaborated on a series of paintings with a common theme: celebrating the indigenous Central American cultures and protest against the U.S. intervention in Central America. Since then, the scenes have changed several times, but murals on this alley keep focusing on social and political struggles.
If you are planning a visit to San Francisco and looking for some nature and green space, check out the amazing Golden Gate Park. It’s where all the locals go for enjoying some gorgeous gardens, museums and green space. As the largest park in the city, Golden Gate Park has it all for everyone that loves the outdoors combined with nature, history and culture.
There are two world re-known museums to visit at the Golden Gate Park. It’s the San Francisco De Young Museum (take the elevator to the tower for magnificent views of the area) and the San Francisco Academy of Science. Nearby is the lovely Japanese tea garden and the expansive San Francisco Arboretum.
For garden lovers there’s the historic and photo-worthy Conservatory of Flowers, Rose Garden, Stowe Lake, Rhododendron garden and so many other wonderful places to drive through. There’s even some amazing tulips at the beautiful windmill at the end of the park. And when you have finished touring that lovely area, head out to the large ocean beach area with the iconic Land’s End and Sutro Tower.
Golden Gate Park is a must for a breath of fresh air, lovely gardens and a fantastic drive around the park.
San Francisco’s Japanese tea garden is a must-do activity when visiting the city. Located inside Golden Gate Park, the four-acre garden is the oldest Japanese garden in the United States.
The admission price ranges from free (children under 5) to $12.00 for adults. Free admission is also offered every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00am – 10:00am, so if you would like to visit for free, and avoid the crowds, this would be a great time to visit.
After you’ve arrived at the garden, take your time to enjoy all of the Japanese elements incorporated into the garden which include stone lanterns, sculptures, a beautiful pagoda, and even a koi pond. The garden is the perfect place to escape the bustling streets of San Francisco for a few hours. It’s very tranquil and peaceful, which is something not many places in San Francisco offer. There’s also a tea house on the garden grounds where you can sit down, enjoy your surroundings, and drink a pot of tea. If you happen to be in San Francisco during the spring months, don’t miss the opportunity to see the beautiful cherry blossom trees in the garden.
When you’re done exploring and on your way out, don’t forget to stop by the gift shop and pick up a tea set or glazed ceramic bowl to carry home with you!
Tour the Alcatraz
By Anisa from Two Traveling Texans
When you travel to San Francisco, you must visit Alcatraz. On this small island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, you can walk in the footsteps of some of America’s most notorious criminals like Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Robert Franklin Stroud (the “Birdman of Alcatraz”).
While Alcatraz was originally developed as a military fortification with a lighthouse, it is most famous for being a high-security federal prison from 1934-1963. Although there were 36 prisoners who tried to make an escape, none was successful.
The only way to visit Alcatraz is through the official tours. You can choose from a day tour, night tour, or behind the scenes tour. The Alcatraz night tour offers a bit of a spooky atmosphere and special ranger talks while the behind the scenes tour will take you to areas of Alcatraz Island that the other tours don’t. We chose the night tour which costs $55.30 per adult.
All the tours start with a scenic boat ride from Fisherman’s Wharf to the island. You can take in with the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline. Then, it’s a short but steep walk up to the prison where the audio tour of the cell block will teach you about the history of Alcatraz and what life was like in the prison. The personal stories make it one of the best audio tours I have taken.
Alcatraz Island is a fascinating place with a bit of an eerie feel and definitely worth a visit if you get the chance. It’s become one of the most popular tourist attractions in California so be sure to get your tickets far in advance.
Sutro Baths is an interesting attraction in San Francisco. A modern-day ruin located on the edge of San Francisco, Sutro Baths look awfully out-of-place as the waves of the Pacific Ocean crashes its demolished remains.
So why are Sutro Baths there? Sutro Baths were built by the millionaire Adolph Sutro and were one of the biggest indoor swimming facilities in the world. Home of several pools of varying temperatures, slides, and swings, Sutro Baths became increasingly popular. Adolph wanted the Sutro baths to be a recreational space for everyone in San Francisco and made the entrance fee extremely low. Eventually, Sutro Baths suffered financially and were bought by someone that wanted to demolish it and build condominiums. Due to a fire that happened later, the project was never completed and it became a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 1973.
Nowadays, visitors come to Sutro Baths for the breath-taking views. During sunset, the waves crash on the remains of Sutro Baths as the sky burns with vibrant colors. If you are a photographer, this is a place you cannot miss in San Francisco. Sutro Baths is not a hidden gem though so I recommend you to visit during the weekdays to avoid the crowd. It is easy to get to via public transportation and is completely free!
Treasure Island is not usually on a tourist’s radar. It is actually famous for the dog-friendly flea market that is held on the last weekend of every month.
Formerly used as a US Navy traiing base, it’s on a man-made island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. And there are lots of abandoned old barracks still. It is not an emerging residential neighbourhood. But it’s a great place for a day out. If you enjoy browsing through flea markets and craft stalls, you will find antiques, art, vintage goods and clothes and more. Or if you are into photography, the view back towards the Financial District is quite spectacular.
Local food and drink stalls are scattered around Treasure Island. You can do a wine tasting, eat some delicious food at either the restaurants or food trucks. Don’t miss the crazy doughnut man operating from his steam engine. Actually, you can’t really miss him and his very colourful costume. You can drive to Treasure Island or take a bus from SoMa which takes about 15 minutes.
There are two ways to get to Sausalito. Via the Golden Gate Bridge and by the Sausalito Ferry. Either option is pretty spectacular. However, nothing can prepare you for the beauty of Sausilito. This quaint little town is the inspiration for the song “(Sittin’ on the) The Dock of the Bay”, and you can see why. Sausalito is a beautiful little waterfront town full of boutique shops and superb restaurants.
You can choose to grab a bite to eat at the many take-away restaurants and sit outside to enjoy the view at Viña del Mar Park. Or you could dine in and enjoy the view from the comfort of the restaurant. I would highly recommend Barrel House Tavern if you dine in a restaurant. This is also an excellent location for lunch.
Sit along the bay and spot the houseboats this beautiful area is famous for. Or do a little shopping in the boutique shops. A walk along the harbour when the weather permits, is also a great option as you can take some beautiful pictures along the way.
If you are into history then The Sausalito Historical Society is a great option. Everything in this area is in walking distance. So Sausalito can be done in a day. However, check out the Sausilito Visitors Center and Historical Society for more information about the area and beyond.
Of all the things suggested here, what would you like to do when you visit San Francisco? Or if you have already been to the Bay Area, what other things would you recommend?