Walk your way through San Francisco.
This past weekend, I faced an interesting dilemma. A companion was coming to visit me in the Bay Area and we both had agreed to spend a day in San Francisco. My friend, however, had visited San Francisco before and had some strict stipulations about where he did not want to go. He had already been to the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Union Square, and Fisherman’s Wharf and did not want to solely venture through these “touristy” locations again.
As someone who had only just recently moved up to the Bay Area, I was at an utter loss as to where to take him. So I went on the Internet and looked up some of San Francisco’s more unique offerings. This included heading over to our very own Jetset Times San Francisco section and reading where contributors, like me, had gone in the past. With some different locations and newfound inspiration, I created my very own scenic walk through San Francisco. With a group of friends (it is always better to travel in groups in certain parts of San Francisco) my creation was a total blast! Listed below is the route we walked and the places we went. Be warned: this walk is not for the faint of heart…or for the faint of legs.
1. Mission District
Our walk began when we got off the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) at the 16th Street Mission stop. We walked left toward 18th Street and reached Valencia Street in the heart of the Mission District. This area is a notorious foodie hotspot offering a distinctive juxtaposition of taco shops and enticingly sleek restaurants. This location’s blend of cultural and historical San Francisco along with a newer hipster scene is definitely different than the more “touristy” aspects of the city. There was also a ton of spectacular street art.
2. Dolores Park
We then headed towards Dolores Park, which yielded a picnic with the wine type of crowd. Bi-Rite Creamery, a famous ice cream store, sits at the corner of the park and is a perfect treat to enjoy while lounging around the park. I had an absolutely divine scoop of honey lavender ice cream, while my friend had a brown sugar and ginger flavored scoop.
3. Soma Street Food Park
After sitting at one of the most eccentric parks in San Francisco, we headed toward 11th Street and Harrison to experience Soma Street Food Park. About a mile and a half away from the park rests this food truck haven, located under the 101 Central Freeway. There are different food trucks every day and even a beer garden with various discounts. At Soma Street, I enjoyed an Asian fusion style taco while sitting inside a bus filled with picnic tables (enjoyably ersatz San Francisco at its best).
4. Union Square
We then meandered through an industrial area of San Francisco, going from 10th Street toward Market Street. As the sun was setting, we walked past many unopened clubs and finally reached Powell Street where Union Square is located. After a bit of shopping we decided that the best way to combat the increasingly cool air was to heat up while walking up some of San Francisco’s famous hills.
5. Lombard Street
As the lights slowly began to illuminate the city as night fell, we headed up, then down Powell Street, which led us in the direction of Fisherman’s Wharf. Strolling down Powell Street was fantastic, because we passed Chinatown, Little Italy, and even saw cars working their way down the famously winding turns of Lombard Street – the curviest road on earth.
6. Fisherman’s Wharf
We ended up at Fisherman’s Wharf, albeit a “touristy” destination, but a beautiful one, especially during the night. My companion didn’t mind going here because we had walked through so much of San Francisco already. We enjoyed a well-needed break at the Boudin SF bakery where soup bread bowls are served all day long.
7. Ferry Building
To conclude our long day (and night) of casually walking through San Francisco, we meandered along the Embarcadero and reached the Ferry Building. Once there, we were only a block away from the Embarcadero Bart and the end of our eight-mile trek.
I now wholeheartedly believe that one of the best ways to experience San Francisco is to simply walk through it. The city is accessible by BART and bus, but there is nothing quite like the feeling of the Bay Area wind in your face and the burn in your legs as you stroll through one of the most famous and famously odd cities in the United States.