Travel to San Francisco :: How to Spend an Afternoon

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure to spend a weekend in San Francisco for a Disney/Pixar press trip – my old stomping grounds of long ago. It had been 20 years since I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I was surprised by how little it had changed. If you are planning to travel to San Francisco or have just an afternoon to go sight seeing, there are a few things that you don’t want to miss.

Travel to San Francisco

A trip to San Francisco just wouldn’t be complete without some pictures of the spectacular Golden Gate Bridge, a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the opening of the San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean. Declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco.

Travel to San Francisco

On either end of the bridge, there are look out points where you can park the car and get some fantastic pictures of the bridge. People by the droves take this opportunity, to walk or cycle across the bridge. I just couldn’t resist a photo opp in front of the bridge. Notice how windy it is? I forgot just how blustery and windy the San Francisco are can be. Next time I’ll be sure to wear a head band.

Travel to San Francisco

Fortunately, the fog wasn’t bad while I was there and I was able to snap an amazingly clear picture of Alcatraz. Often referred to as “The Rock” (Remember that Sean Connery film from 1996?) Alcatraz Island is located in the San Francisco Bay. It is home to the abandoned Alcatraz prison and the site of the oldest operating lighthouse on the west coast of the United States.

Travel to San Francisco Pier 39

My afternoon in San Francisco ended with a visit to the festive Pier 39 shopping and dining complex, located near Fisherman’s Wharf. The Pier offers a variety of shopping and favorite restaurants such as Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, Crab House and Boudin Bakery Cafe. For the small and big kids alike, Pier 39 has a beautiful and ornate working carousel.

Travel San to Francisco Pier 39 Carousel

Time didn’t permit me to visit both Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, so I chose Pier 39 in hopes of spotting a sea lion or two. As you can see from the pictures below, I got to see more than just a couple of sea lions. The sea lions have been camping out in droves in PIER 39′s West Marina since 1990 and have been endearingly coined The PIER’s “Sea Lebrities.”

Travel to San Francisco Sea Lions at Pier 39

The day of my visit, sea lions were camped out by the hundreds – basking in the sun, and piled atop each other on the pier’s docks. The sound of the barking sea lions was so intense and very entertaining.

Travel to San Francisco Pier 39 Sea Lions Up Close

I couldn’t resist snapping an up close shot of this cute little guy snuggled up with his sea lion pals. With just an afternoon of free time on my trip to San Francisco, I was able to see and do so much. Many thanks to my San Francisco tour guide TerriAnn of the blog Cookies and Clogs, and my traveling companion Liz from A Nut in a Nutshell for making this such a fun and memorable trip.

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  1. ellen beck says

    Gosh I havent been in that area for many years.. and didnt much get to sightsee. It is gorgeous there and your pics are making me want to go somewhere warm and beautiful!

  2. Tammy S says

    I haven’t been to San Francisco in years. Your trip just reminded my of how much fun it is to visit there. I love going to Pier 39. Now I want to go on a trip.

  3. Sarah L says

    It’s been 40 years since I’ve been there. I remember Fisherman’s Wharf and the great seafood I ate there.

    • Angela says

      I wish you had been there too! It was so nice to have that extra time in the city. I think I will try to get a late flight home from now on.

  4. says

    I visited San Francisco almost 10 years ago and cannot wait to go again. We hit all of the spots you mentioned and had a wonderful time – Pier 39 is truly awesome!

  5. Daun Slagle says

    Another thing I love about Pier 39 are the street performers and mimes.. and the ocean cruise around Alcatraz.. I love the arcades.. reminds me of when my kids still lived at home.. the hot salted pretzels.. but for the love of god.. i will never drive or park on the streets with 80% incline or decline in a car with a touchy manual transmission ever ty for the memories and pics..

  6. Catherine Shaw says

    Ah, San Fran! Ah, the left coast! It’s a long way from home but I do hope to get to San Francisco someday. I just watched The Five Year Engagement on Netflix and was overawed by the scenes of that city.

  7. Michelle H. says

    I visited San Francisco once many years ago and would love to go back and see some of these sites.

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