Self-guided tours of San Francisco for first timer and veteran visitors

San Francisco is a dynamic, rapidly changing city with the capacity to attract visitors from all over the world due to its unique beauty and famous landmarks. It's a great place to be a tourist, whether you have a day or a week. I continue to discover new parts of the city that surprise and enchant me even today. 

Below are two self-guided tours of the city if you are a first timer or a veteran visitor, tried and true with many friends and family who have visited over the years. Enjoy!

For First Timers:

  1. Start the morning at the Ferry Building to grab some Blue Bottle Coffee and wander the farmer's market.

  2. Next, walk north along the Embarcadero. For the active folks, you can steer left after Pier 23 and meander through the neighborhoods of North Beach to Coit Tower, where great views await!

  3. Walk or cab over to Pier 39, where there are lots of dining options (including San Francisco Boudin Bakery for sourdough bread bowls and sandwiches!). Pier 39 is home to the sea lions as well as tourist trinkets in Fisherman's Wharf.

  4. If you keep walking along the water you will eventually see Ghirardelli Square on your left-hand side. Go up the hill and enjoy some delicious chocolate and ice cream. You can also see the chocolate making process here.

  5. When you are full, take a cab over to Lombard Street (the crooked part between Hyde and Leavenworth!) and walk down. Alternatively, you can pick up a cable car in Fisherman's Wharf and take it to the top of the street.

  6. If you aren't completely exhausted, you can cab over to Fort Point and walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.

  7. Finish up the day with a cab ride to Alamo Square, home to the Painted Ladies of Full House fame, then walk down the hill towards Hayes Valley and downtown to grab something for dinner.

A map of the above mentioned places can be found here. 

For veteran tourists - more off the beaten path:

  1. Park or Bart/Muni to the Castro District. Grab some breakfast and then start on this walking tour up to Twin Peaks.

  2. Take in the views,  then opt to explore another neighborhood, like Haight-Ashbury or go to the 16th Avenue Steps, which are beautiful and offer nice views.

  3. Afterwards, make your way to do some hiking in the Interior Greenbelt in Mt. Sutro Forest, or go to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. If the weather is sub-par, visit the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park or the renovated SF Museum of Modern Art in Yerba Buena.

  4. At the end of the day, drive to Land's End for a hike along the coast or just some Pacific Ocean sunset views. Make sure to visit the water grottos by the old swimming pool!

A map of the above mentioned places can be found here.