My college roommate visited me this weekend from Sacramento and we decided to play tourist around San Francisco for a day (despite her having been to the city many times, and me living less than 15 miles south of it). There are so many sights to see around the bay area that I felt like there wasn’t enough time to visit them all let alone have an enjoyable catch up time.
What do you do with one day in the Bay?
I started my search by pulling out a bunch of printed brochures gathered from various visits by my mom and boyfriend’s mom (mom’s really are amazing!) and began sifting through an array of colorful, touristy options. Alcatraz tours, wine tasting, Pier 39 –it was hard to settle on one thing to see and do or balance what 2-3 sights we could realistically fit in. Way too much to choose from!
Then I came across a brochure for the Big Bus Tour a double-decker hop on/off sightseeing bus whose daytime route made several stops around the city. This allowed us to hit up a couple landmarks without driving around so we could actually spend the time sightseeing and talking. It was perfect.
We decided to meet at Embarcadero (stop # 5 on the route) which allowed us to get lunch in the area before linking up with the tour. We decided to try out The Slanted Door located inside the Ferry Building on the far north corner. I was surprised to find this restaurant to be quite elegant, but comfortable and, at the same time, reasonably-priced. It had a unique menu with lots of tasty, adult beverages 😀
After getting a bite to eat, it was time to rendezvous at the bus pick up point. This proved to be a little difficult to locate at first since there wasn’t a lot of signage. But, their buses come around every 15-20 minutes so if you’re in the general area you can’t miss the Big Bus. If you’re curious about the day tour “red route” you can view it here.
Personally, I always like to try to dress for the day’s activities. So, a couple quick tips about what to wear/bring when touring San Francisco in January. We happened to get a beautiful, clear day so rain ponchos were not needed but SF is known for its foggy weather so be sure to check the weather forecast once you book your tour. It’s a safe bet to dress as though it were going to be under 40 degrees.
First, I have to tell you about the best pants to wear anytime you’re out and about sightseeing. Anything with a side stash pocket is perfect because you’re taking pictures one minute then getting up and moving to disembark the next. Being able to secure your phone in a pocket on your thigh instead of a backpack is much faster and seamless. These types of pants are becoming a lot more popular by lifestyle athletic brands so wear whatever style you like (tights, jogger, capri) but, in my opinion, Athleta has the best street pants and at the best price. It’s one of my favorite brands.
I was wearing their Wander Utility Pant (sale price $75.99). These are fantastic pants to wear around the town because they’re more stylish than yoga pants and they function like cargo pants: they’re comfortable, chic and perfect for wearing around town.
Final note on what to wear and pack along. I took a set of gloves, scarf, baseball cap, sunglasses and jacket. The cap was really helpful when going across the Golden Gate bridge because it was so windy! This is going to sound really girly but it’s not enjoyable, or easy for that matter to take pictures, if your hair is whipping you in the face the whole way.
To recap, a hop on/hop off bus tour is a great way to kill a few birds with one stone. The only thing I would change is to have commemorative blankets available on the bus. Always be prepared and BYOB – Bring Your Own Blanket 😉