San Francisco: A Walking Tour


San Francisco is one of the gems of America’s west coast. It’s a city of forward thinkers at the forefront of design, & steeped in cultural history as big as its hills. From the powerful skyline of the financial district to the cruising ships across the bay, San Francisco has it all. Although one day isn’t enough time to spend soaking up San Fran, it is possible to visit A LOT of the sights in a single day out walking. This walking tour is how we saw the city in a jam-packed 10 hour day… & we loved every minute!! You’ll find a map of our slightly crazy looking route at the bottom of this post, & I’m not sure how, but I promise you we did do ALL this in a day!


Union Square

We started our day in this historic square at the centre of modern-day San Fran. With major retailers based all around Union Square it no longer tells the tales of its mass demonstrations, but this modern shopping district is bustling with interesting characters & well worth a mosey.


Financial District

I am a sucker for the big , powerful architecture of a modern metropolis so I dragged Nicky through the financial district. Just a 15 minute walk from Union Square & we were in amongst the big buildings of downtown with all the city slickers… needless to say we waited on a coffee stop until we were out of fancy-pants town! But San Fran has some very striking skyscrapers & it was a nice little detour.



Next on the list for our zig-zagging route to the bay was Chinatown. Turning onto Stockton Street feels like there should be a border control because it’s a very different world to the one we’d just walked through! The sidewalks keep your eyes & ears busy with products spewing on to the street from stores in a bustle of sights & smells. Take the time to take a peak down some side streets too ’cause there is some really cool graffiti around!


Graffiti in Chinatown, San Francisco

Some groovy graffiti in Chinatown, San Francisco


If you’re hungry, now’s the time to dip into some Dim Sum! These bite-size dumplings are a staple dish with restaurants dotted across the city, particularly in Chinatown.


Little Italy

Straight into another distinct district of San Fran & the perfect stop off for a coffee & some people watching. Italian restaurants & coffee shops line the sidewalks of the city’s North Beach neighbourhood, filling the streets with yet more culture.


Coit Tower

Nestled amongst the streets of North Beach is the prominent peak of Telegraph Hill. On top sits Coit Tower, offering incredible 360-degree views of San Francisco from its observation deck. The simple concrete structure is covered with murals inside, & after a short elevator ride a narrow winding staircase takes you to the top. The views really are spectacular & it is well worth the $5 fee.


Coit Tower View - San Francisco Financial District

A view of San Francisco’s Financial District & Bay Bridge from Coit Tower



Pier 39

Next up we finally made it to the bay! Pier 39 is the commercial heartland of San Fran’s waterfront, decked out with restaurants & souvenir shops galore. The main attraction for us though were the sea lions bellowing just metres away!! There’s also a great view of Alcatraz, jutting out on its own in the centre of the bay.


Lombard Street

20 minutes from Pier 39 is the world’s most winding street! Lombard Street’s block of hairpin bends is on a particularly steep hill of San Francisco & it was designed to enable vehicles & pedestrians to get up & down. It is crrraaaazzy steep… even for San Fran!!


Lombard Street - San Francisco

The hairpin bends of Lombard Street



Fort Mason

We finished off the big bulk of our walk with a 30 minute stroll through Fort Mason on the west of the bay. This old US Army post was the principal port during World War II for the Pacific campaign. Today it’s a really nice park area of the city, offering more great views of San Francisco Bay & the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.


Golden Gate Bridge

After 6.5 miles of walking around San Fran’s centre, we took the bus from Marina Boulevard to one of America’s most symbolic structures. The bus conveniently dropped us right at the end of the bridge, & somehow, although we’d been looking at it all day & seen hundreds of photos, it was still an incredibly impressive sight. On the southeast corner, the Bridge Pavilion visitor centre is full of info & historical displays to make it more than a ‘cool bridge’.


The Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco

The iconic Golden Gate Bridge stretching across San Francisco Bay


After a day of walking we could only muster the energy to get halfway… We figured it’s a symmetrical bridge anyway! But it was awesome to walk under the tall towers & look back at the ebbs & flows of San Francisco city.



Our FINAL stop was another of San Fran’s legendary neighbourhoods. The corner of Haight & Ashbury is renowned for its bohemian subculture, home to the hippies, & welcoming some of the 60’s biggest rock stars. We took the bus from the Golden Gate Bridge for 15 minutes to within a block of the celebrated street corner. We wandered the surrounding streets, hitting some of the thrift shops, & finally, a well earned beer!


Haight-Ashbury Street Sign - San Francisco

The world-famous street corner of Haight-Ashbury



Here’s a map of our initial walk-around the city centre. You’ll find the Golden Gate Bridge to the west down Presidio Parkway, & Haight-Ashbury just east of the Golden Gate Park, southwest of the route mapped out here.


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