Article: 20 Affordable Enjoyable San Francisco Activities Part 3

on Sep-23-2013 in California

Article: 20 Affordable Enjoyable San Francisco Activities Part 3

San Francisco was a city that grew slowly upon us. We did not really have any special connection to it until we had visited it on several occasions. Our friends in the area made an additional contribution to that. We really feel that we got San Francisco now and hope you will enjoy it one day too.

Here is now finally the third part of our 20 piece San Francisco Vacation list. Each letter stands for another part.

If you have missed the other two parts with S A N  F R A N C I S C O – here are the links

Click here to see part one with S A N  F R A

Click here to see part two with N C I S C O

V= Viewpoints At Marin Headlands. 

Golden Gate Bridge Taken At Battery Spencer

Golden Gate Bridge Taken At Battery Spencer

The Marin Headlands offer several outstanding viewpoints. Our first stop at the Marin Headlands was at the Battery Spencer parking area. From there, a short walk takes you to the Battery Spencer viewpoint. Battery Spencer is part of Fort Wagner which used to be a beachhead fortification. As you get closer to the viewing area, you can feel the wind almost blowing you away. If you continue you will soon have an outstanding view over the Golden Gate Bridge and surrounding areas.

Whilst you are at the site you can also walk around the Battery Spencer buildings and have a look at the Gun Emplacement. If you continue your drive along the Conzelman Road you can stop at various viewpoints. It seems like a roller coaster. You get from one good viewpoint to another as you drive along the road. The only difference is that it is not at all scary and your stomach will stay safe and sound.

Sign Point Bonita Lighthouse

Sign Point Bonita Lighthouse

At the end of Conzelman Road we headed further to the sea along the Field Road which took us to a parking area. You can park your car at the Point Bonita parking area and then walk along the trail to the tunnel to the Lighthouse. As you walk along the path you can look down to the steep cliffs and get another angle on the Golden

Rock At Walk To Tunnel At Point Bonita Lighthouse

Rock At Walk To Tunnel At Point Bonita Lighthouse

Gate Bridge.

Everything starts to feel as if you are on a ship within the ocean. The huge rock on your right looks like a sail and the only thing missing is the shaking of your boat. Eventually you will reach a door connecting you through the tunnel to the lighthouse. We visited the Marin Headlands during sunset so unfortunately we could not visit the actual Lighthouse, however, the views were still worth the visit.

On the same day, we visited Muir Beach in the late afternoon. Muir Beach is also part of the Marin Headlands. The beach had a relaxed atmosphere with various people enjoying their time at the beach. You could see surfers, kids playing at the water, people taking their dogs for a swim, groups of people meeting up for a barbeque at the beach. We walked along the beach for a while and then headed uphill onto a little hike. At the top of the hill you can see the Point Bonita Lighthouse greeting you from afar, admire the huge cliffs and parts of San Francisco.

Directions from San Francisco to Marin Headlands / starting at Battery Spencer: Head towards Golden Gate Bridge and drive across the Golden Gate Bridge along Highway 101. Take the Alexander Avenue exit and keep left and follow the signs for US 101 South. Turn left onto Alexander Avenue and take the 1st right onto Conzelman Road. You should shortly come to the Battery Spencer parking area. After the first viewpoint continue along the Conzelman Road. At the end of Conzelman Road head further towards the sea along Field Road until you reach the next parking area for the Point Bonita Lighthouse.

Address of Battery Spencer: Battery Spencer, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Mill Valley, CA 94941, USA.

Directions to Muir Beach: The parking area of Muir Beach is located along Pacific Way. Address near parking area of Muir Beach: 176 Pacific Way, Muir Beach, CA 94965, USA To reach the Pacific Way from US 1, come off at Lagoon Drive and drive down the Pacific Road.

Note: There is some construction and restoration works going on at Muir Beach until November 2013.

Click here to see a PDF map of the Marin Headlands issued by the Park Conservancy

Click here to visit the link of the Marin Headlands within the website of the National Park Service

Click here to see the website of Muir Beach Community

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A= A Day Without Breakfast Is Like A Balloon Without Air.

Cake at La Farine Bakery

Cake at La Farine Bakery

The best place to enjoy a delicious morning delight is at La Farine French Bakery which was established in 1977. The bakery offers French pastries, fruit and nut tarts, classic cakes, cookies, rustic bread and cakes for special occasions.

The bakery currently has three stores in Oakland and one in Berkeley. The shop on College Avenue in Oakland is a perfect pit stop when you are heading to the Berkeley Campus.

Baguette At La Farine Bakery

Baguette At La Farine Bakery

Tip: As you exit the bakery, take a moment and close your eyes. It feels as if you are walking from a bakery in France into the busy College Avenue in Oakland.

Address of the Oakland shop: 6323 College Avenue, Oakland, CA 94618, USA

Website of La Farine

C= Campus of Berkeley University.

Berkeley University

Berkeley University

One of the most prestigious universities in the world offers you a different kind of experience.

Sather Tower / Campanile Berkeley University

Sather Tower / Campanile Berkeley University

The main campus area provides open spaces with some truly unique sights. It is a perfect place to wander about for a short or longer period of time. When you arrive, you are immediately drawn to the centre of the University which is a big tower. The tower is called the Campanile or also known as Sather Tower which was completed in 1914. You can even visit the observation platform of the tower at certain times of the day. It gives you good views of the Campus and the surrounding Bay Area.

Another interesting building is the South Hall which was built in 1873 making it the oldest building on the Campus.

Kristin Dancing With The Bear At Berkeley University

Kristin Dancing With The Bear At Berkeley University

There are plenty of other buildings to discover. The Campus also houses a botanical garden and expert student guides provide special walking tours.

Good To Know: Hearst Greek Theatre was built in 1903 and during its lifetime presented many shows. You can even go there yourself and enjoy a musical, dance and other performances.

Address of the Visitor Centre: It is located in room 101 of Sproul Hall (corner Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft Way), Berkeley, CA 94704, USA 

Link to the visitors section of Berkeley University

Website of Cal Performances of University of California, Berkeley – this is where you can check for shows held at the theatre and other venues of the University

South Hall At Berkeley University

South Hall At Berkeley University

A= A discovery of California’s Native Plants At The Regional Botanic Garden in Tilden Park.

Sign at Regional Botanic Garden

Sign at Regional Botanic Garden

Most first time visitors to California don’t realize the diversity that the state has to offer. It took us a view visits to truly recognize its vast variety of terrains. You have the mountains that can take you to a true winter resort, the desert terrain in Palm Desert and several coastal areas which are all different and unique. The garden is set up in 10 sections and three subsections offering you a variety of California’s plants all in one space. The first plants blossom around mid-December and early January. This is also the best time to visit the Botanic Garden.

Entrance Fees (status October 2013): Free

Opening hours of the Botanic Garden: 08:30 a.m. until 5.00p.m. (05:30 p.m. in the summer).  It is open almost all year around with the exception of Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day and Christmas Day.

Address: Wildcat Canyon Road and South Park Drive in Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley, USA

Click here to visit the website of the Botanic Garden

Click here to visit the website of the Friends of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden

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T= Tilden Steam Train Rides At Redwood Valley Railroad.

Tilden Steam Train

Tilden Steam Train

A ride with the Tilden Steam Train offers you an approximate 12 minute ride in a real miniature train. The ride with some twisty turns goes through a tunnel and along the open track you can see some picturesque exhibits. This is an adventure not just for children but also for adults and even dogs can ride the train (if the dogs are brave enough).

Directions: The steam train runs at Tilden Park which not far away from the Regional Botanic Garden in Tilden Park and Berkeley University. The location of the steam train within the park is at the intersection of Lomas Cantadas Road and Grizzly Peak Boulevard. It takes about 30 minutes by car from San Francisco.

Address: Lomas Cantadas, Orinda, CA 94563, USA

Ticket prices (last checked October 2013): Tickets cost USD 3.00 for a single ride and USD 12.00 for a 5 ride ticket (Note: Price per ticket is the same for adults, children and dogs and  unused rides can be used on another day)

Click here to see the video of our ride with the Steam Train

Click here to visit the website of Redwood Valley Steam Train

I= Ice Cream Made To Perfection At The San Francisco Creamery Co.

San Francisco Creamery Co.

San Francisco Creamery Co.

Picture yourself sitting in front of a huge mountain of ice cream and whipped cream delightfully placed on top of it.  A sight that most people might remember from their childhood’s dreams. You can make this dream come true by visiting the ice cream shop of the San Francisco Creamery Co and trying their kitchen sink portion of ice cream.

Paul At San Francisco Creamery Co.

Paul At San Francisco Creamery Co.

In reality, you might want to share this huge portion with a big group of people or perhaps just try a normal sized cube of ice cream. Their ice cube portions are really big and very delicious. One cube is certainly enough and two can be quite challenging. Have a look at Paul’s photo. He is actually struggling to finish my ice-cream because two scoops were simply too much for me.

Address of the San Francisco Creamery Co.: 1370 Locust Street, Walnut Creek, CA 94596, USA

Did You Know? You can win free ice cream for a year at their shop if you win the special kitchen sink competition. Within a limited time (currently around 30 minutes) one has to finish on their own the entire kitchen sink.

The question is, would anyone want the free ice cream for a year after going through this mountain?

Website of the San Francisco Creamery Co.

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O= Offers Different Types Of Transport.

San Francisco offers various types of transport. Here is the link to the San Francisco International Airport “Airport Code SFO” and a few methods of transport:

Click here to visit the website of San Francisco International Airport

Airport Transport

The Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BARD for short) is offering an affordable transport from San Francisco International Airport into the centre of San Francisco. The stop at Powel Street is near Union Square. A one-way ticket

A one-way ticket from the airport to Powel Street is approximately USD 8.25. There are reductions for youth (age 5 to 12 years) and seniors (age 65+). However, these reductions only apply with a special Clipper Discount Card which has to be obtained prior to the ride and it may only be eligible for US nationals and Green card holders. Tip: You need your ticket to enter the station and to exit it, so remember to keep it with you until the end of your journey.

Click here to visit the website of the BART Transport system

San Francisco Cable Car System

The famous San Francisco Cable Cars are an icon of the city and they are also the world’s largest manually operated cable cars. From the original 23 lines only three are still running in San Francisco today. Two lines run from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf and a third one runs along California Street. You can even visit an admission free Cable Car Museum.

Click here to visit the website of San Francisco Cable Cars

Address of Cable Car Museum: 1201 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA

Website of the Cable Car Museum


Taxis generally are mixed wherever you go. You never really know what you are going to get. A different kind of taxi service and well-reviewed one is the Cabrio Taxi offering pedicab rides.

Cabrio Taxi

Offers premier pedicab rides around San Francisco. You can find them along San Francisco’s Embarcadero.

Tel: (415) 735-3700 / Click here to visit the website of Cabrio Taxi

You can find other Taxi companies as well as other types of transportation on the below mentioned website of the San Francisco Travel Site:

Click here to visit the transportation section of San Francisco Travel

N= Nights Sleeping In The City of San Francisco.

A good night’s sleep at an affordable price in a big city is always hard to find. Unless you are going really low budget with a hostel, you simply have to accept that the prices in San Francisco are very high. Here are 5 recommendations based on ours and other traveller reviews.

Tip: Watch the parking fees of the hotels. They can be a hefty ($50+) extra. Plus when you book a room or arrive at the hotel, ask for a room on a high floor so you might be able to have a view over the city.

Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco

Up-market hotel with a perfect central location near Union Square. The coffee in the bar area was quite nicely priced considering how much you have to pay nowadays for a coffee at the major chains.

Address: 757 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

Website of the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco

Hotel Drisco

A very well reviewed hotel. The only downside is its location. It is not anywhere near Union Square or Fisherman’s Wharf.

Address: 2901 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA

Website of Hotel Drisco

Parc 55 Wyndham

The hotel has a good location. The bar area was quite busy too. Nice club lounge offering great views especially during sunset.

Address: 55 Cyril Magnin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA

Website of Park 55 Wyndham

View Lounge Park 55 Wyndham San Francisco

View Lounge Park 55 Wyndham San Francisco

The Inn at Union Square

Address: 440 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA

Website of the Inn At Union Square

San Francisco Marriott Union Square

Address: 480 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA

Website of Mariott

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