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San Francisco Walking Tour

Recently I spent time in San Francisco – alone! I had a full day in the city to do as I wished, so I created a punch list of places I wanted to see and crafted my own personalized San Francisco walking tour. I have to admit that it was fairly vigorous, but I impressed myself with all that I got to see! So, take a walk along with me, and if you ever head out to this coastal city, you can walk this route on your own.

Walking Tour of San Francisco as seen on Hill City Bride Destination Wedding Travel and Honeymoon Blog

My walk started and ended at the Ferry Building Marketplace (which I’ll chat more about later!), which you can see on the reference map below to the left of the Bay Bridge. This fab map actually came from the Bay City Guide, and more maps can be found here for reference (and download your own PDF map if you’d like!).

San Francisco Walking Tour City Map by Bay Guides CA

San Francisco has a wonderful bike sharing system that is brilliant (although I decided not to utilize it after looking at the map and the 30 minute time allotment). Find out more about Ford GoBikes here. They are a great way to get around, and you can also purchase a multi-day pass.

Hotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel Ford Rental Bikes

It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and the pier area was beautiful on my San Francisco walking tour!

There are so many boats of all types and sizes, so I decided to walk along the waterfront (The Embarcadero) going literally from before Pier 1 all the way to the other end near Pier 47. It was a pretty walk – and flat, too, which I came to appreciate later on. Ha! Views of the water and Alcatraz were so stunning.

View from Pier Hotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination TravelHotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel

Although I had axed the Golden Gate Bridge from my list because it wasn’t within walking distance, I was excited to see it off in the distance. The unmistakable red paint gave it away. It’s such a trademark color and site!

If you refer to the map above, you will see Fort Mason and somewhat of a “curly cue” of a pier around Aquatic Park. The curved pier is a popular place, and it allowed for widespread views, great photos and meeting a new bird friend. There were people swimming (more lap style rather than for enjoyment), and I spotted a solo, swimming sea lion (I wasn’t quick enough to snag a photo of him)!

Hotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel Golden Gate BridgeHotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination TravelHotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel

After my waterside views, I decided to continue my San Francisco walking tour to the famous Lombard Street – the “crookedest street in the world” as it’s called.

After my foray near Aquatic Park, I walked near Ghiradelli Square and up Van Ness Avenue to get to Lombard. It’s uphill. Actually, I won’t be shy about saying that there is a LOT (ton, huge amount) of uphill walking from here on out, so be sure to wear good walking shoes. From Van Ness, I made a left onto Lombard, and just look at that uphill climb! There are specific instructions for cars, which quite makes sense at those angles.

Hotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel Lombard Street

Along the way, I tried to focus on the lovely buildings and architecture. San Francisco is such a beautiful city, and the details in the buildings are so aesthetic and well crafted. Take a peek! And, if you are a lover of succulents, the city has so many of them – and the climate allows them to grow and thrive. I’ve never seen such beautiful succulents!

Hotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel Lombard StreetHotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel Succulents

This is a sidenote, but on the way to Lombard Street on my San Francisco walking tour, I found a great lookout spot!

I wasn’t alone in finding this spot, but at the corner of Lombard and Larkin, there is a set of stairs on the furthest right corner. I know at this point you will not feel like walking up MORE stairs (that go to nowhere you want to get to), but the view is worth it. Just see it below – and you can see the Golden Gate off in the distance. So fun! I was really glad once I got to the top and looked back over the city.

Hotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel Lombard Street

Even though that view is lovely, it truly pales in comparison with the view from the top of Lombard and Hyde, which is where the curvy part of Lombard begins. Be prepared for cars, tourists and trolleys as it’s a busy area, which is mostly due to it being an attraction. When you look at the photo below, note the tower like structure off in the distance to the right. That’s where we are headed next, but I definitely enjoyed the views first as you will see! Gorgeous!!

Hotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel Lombard StreetHotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel View from Lombard Street

The curve of Lombard Street is more evident from the bottom, so be sure to look up when you get down. If you look, you can see cars making their way down and people walking on either side. It is a decent walk down as there are stairs and handrails for the most part. And who can balk at all of those hydrangeas? So pretty!

Hotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel View Looking up Lombard StreetHotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel

It was quite a walk (as you could see) to the next stop, but I really wanted to check out Coit Tower as part of my San Francisco walking tour.

The tower itself is hard to miss as it’s very tall and stately. It’s also located in an area of raised rock as I would call it, but if you are in San Francisco, PLEASE make this a part of your trip. It’s so worth it! It has a fun history (read here), and the views from the top are gorgeous. They were my favorite views of the city of San Francisco. The cost was $8 to get in, and there was a little bit of a line, which was no issue. They have an elevator that takes you to the top in groups.

Hotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel Coit Tower

Please just take a moment to soak in the views! The city, skyline, Golden Gate Bridge and beyond are all visible from this vantage point. I dare say that it was my favorite part of my San Francisco walking tour. I loved it!!

Hotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel View from Coit TowerHotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel View from Coit TowerHotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel View from Coit TowerHotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel View from Coit TowerHotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel View from Coit Tower

The next stop on my San Francisco walking tour was Chinatown.

I’d love to give you a logical way to get to Chinatown, but the best thing to do is utilize the map. I tried to, but I can’t even begin to describe to you how directionally challenged I am, so I’m not going to attempt to give you any advice because this part of my walk was entirely too much of a detour to get there. But one of my favorite things there was to look up and see the lovely lanterns. As a side note, I’ve actually been to China, and this section did remind me of my trip to China!

Hotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel ChinatownHotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel Chinatown

After leaving Chinatown, I walked down Washington Street to head back to the starting point of my San Francisco walking tour – the Ferry Building Marketplace.

Along the way, I encountered more succulents in a nearby business park area. I can’t even describe them! Huge, beautiful, colorful – and what a variety. Ah, California!

Hotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel Succulents

I really enjoyed walking through the Ferry building. There were plenty of stores with upscale souvenirs and accoutrements available for purchase. The inside had the feel of an outdoor market, which was so quaint! The market also houses restaurants, coffee shops and ice cream for sustenance. It’s definitely worth a trip, especially if you desire out-of-the-ordinary souvenirs.

Hotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination TravelHotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel

Last, but not least, I walked out on Pier 14 near the marketplace and the Bay Bridge. The pier has beautiful tile artwork of various ships and boats throughout the ages, which was great to peruse! And, of course, I need to include one last look at the stately Bay Bridge, which is truly where my San Francisco waterside adventure began.

Hotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel

Hotel Griffon and San Francisco Walking Tour as seen on Hill City Bride Virginia Wedding Blog and Destination Travel Bay Bridge

Craving more? Head here to take a peek at a place to stay – the lovely Hotel Griffon – near my walking tour! Also, if any of you are wondering how I got to and from San Francisco, I had a lovely flight on jetBlue from Richmond, VA (through Boston, MA). I adore sleeping on the plane, which was definitely accomplished during my coast to coast flight, and I also enjoyed a selection of movies while on my way. I loved being able to pick both new movies and some old classics (Singin’ in the Rain and Dial M for Murder) on my trip to and from California!

Special thanks goes out to the San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for their hospitality while I was in California. Although my walking tour and time in San Francisco was a separate venture, it wouldn’t have been possible without them! 

  • Amiekay - San Francisco always looks so stunning. I have always wanted to go there to see the obvious stuff but your post adds even more to the list! (I especially love the tile work!)

  • Jennifer - Yes! The tile work was all up and down the pier, and Coit Tower was so fab!! <3

  • Nicole - I have to say, I was quite jealous as I read through the recount of your walking tour. A trip alone to explore San Francisco? As a mom of 4 under 10, I can’t imagine how peaceful that would be! I enjoyed all of your photos, but the pictures from Coit Tower were my favorite. Thanks for sharing!

  • Luci - This is a really great tour. With your pictures I felt like I was actually there.

  • Kelly Edgar - I absolutely adore San Fran. Your pictures are so beautiful and brought back some great memories.

  • Czjai Reyes-Ocampo - So many wonderful things to see in San Francisco! My friend and her family relocated to the Bay Area a few years back, and she absolutely loves this place. 🙂

  • Jennifer - It is so fun! I really think there is a good variety – urban, art, history, beauty – for different tastes. What a great place to live!

  • Ashley - Wow, what a walk, after all that “climbing” your legs must have been feeling it! … I love the idea of the bikes, my parents were recently there I wonder if they know about this cool feature!

  • Jennifer - Ha, yes. I will admit it was quite rigorous. But it’s a lovely city! <3

  • Elizabeth O - It looks like such a great day out. The views are just lovely and your photography is really amazing.

  • Jennifer - Thank you! I really tried with my iPhone. <3

  • Jen ~ The Tipsy Mama - This looks amazing! And your pictures are breathtaking! I have not been to San Francisco yet, but definitely on the bucket list!

  • Alicia Taylor - I would love to visit San Francisco. I hope you wore a fitbit with all those hills! I think China Town would be high on my list to visit.

  • Ann F. Snook-Moreau - My hubby and I actually started our honeymoon in SF! We saw a lot of these things but missed out on the tower . . . now I’m kind of sad we didn’t go to it!

  • Twinspirational - We haven’t been to SF in years, but this post makes us want to visit sooner (probably with a trip to Napa).

  • Esme Sy - I really like this way of looking and reading at and about San Francisco. I still believe it’s one of the greatest, prettiest cities in the whole world, and I’ve mostly been just a spectator rather than a local.

  • Mardene Carr - Thanks for this fabulous piece of information. This is on my bucket list this year!

  • Heather McMechan - How convenient that the hotel was next to the Walking Tour. I bet they get a lot of traffic from tourists. I can’t get over all the views. This post made me think of my time in San Fran. Glad you were able to enjoy your stay.

  • Bianca Dottin - My family has never been to San Francisco. It’s on our list for next year. This is a great guide to keep in mind for our visit.

  • Jennifer - Yes, please do!! 🙂

  • Jennifer - Thank you so much! I did love it, and there is SO much to see. 🙂

  • Nancy Johnson Horn - We loved San Francisco — I was there with my husband in 2015. We felt very at home and loved touring around. We went to Golden Gate Park and Alcatraz and walked around a lot (I was there for a conference). Great city!

  • Lisa Rios - I’ve never been to San Francisco but I have heard many wonderful things about it! I hope to go one day.

  • Jackie - You certainly covered a lot of ground! I felt as though I was right alongside you (minus the exercise) on your walking tour of San Fransisco. Your post gave me a very nice taste of San Fransisco, having never been there myself. (It’s crazy to see Alcatraz right there off the coast. I’m sure it appears a lot closer than it actually is.) My daughter lives in southern California and has been to SF a few times; I hope to get there to experience it firsthand very soon!

  • Jennifer - I’ve been to SF 3x in my life and have NEVER been to Alcatraz. Apparently, you have to get tickets way ahead of time. Someday I’ll get there! SF is such a lovely city. <3

  • Daisy - I absolutely adore San Francisco!!!! I grew up just down the coast in Pismo and we often took day tips up to the city!!! I try to get back there at least once a year if I can…

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