The following blog post comes from Benjamin Prawer and Jesse Swedlund, who are behind the documentary, Ty’s List.
The San Francisco Bay Area has a wealth of options for travelers looking to experience the many sides of this incredible region. Our college friend, Tyler Lorenzi, was from Mill Valley and made a list of his favorite things to do in the Bay Area. After he died tragically in a sailing accident, we found the list and were inspired to make a documentary about it. We invited three of his closest friends from different chapters of his life to come to San Francisco and complete the items on the list. You can learn more about our documentary, Ty’s List, here, and can check out our blog post on what we learned from the trip here. Based on the experiences we had making the film (and on Ty’s favorites), here are our suggestions for what to do when visiting San Francisco.
If you’re looking to experience the chill vibes for which San Francisco is known, head to Dolores Park. Situated on a hill overlooking the city skyline, this grassy knoll attracts people from all over the city who come to picnic, drink wine, play Frisbee and soccer, and make music together. It’s family-friendly, too, as there’s an enormous playground. After a long day in the park, you can find some amazing Taquerias, Mexican cuisine food trucks, and expansive murals in the bordering Mission District.
This is the most “touristy” destination on our list, but there are some great hidden gems in the area. For only $10 you can hop on a 40-minute cruise out to Alcatraz and around the Bay. The cruise leaves from a small harbor near the corner of Jefferson and Jones, just east of Castagnola’s. Go around dusk for a beautiful ride.
Also, if you’re a chocolate lover, stop by Ghirardelli Square for some free samples of their delicious chocolate!
With red lanterns hanging overhead and crates of exotic fruits and vegetables for sale, San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest Chinatown in North America. This neighborhood has the hustle-and-bustle feel of a big city in Asia. The street vendors, street performers, delicious food and awesome shops are well worth an afternoon to explore.
Ferry to Sausalito
If you’re looking for a manageable day trip out of the city (and some great shopping), take the Golden Gate Ferry over to Sausalito. This waterfront town has Munchies, an amazing salt water taffy candy store, as well as lots of fun upscale shops. There also always are California sea lions hanging out in the harbor. Sausalito even is home to a community of house boats.
The best of Marin County
No trip to the Bay Area is complete without a visit to the vast natural beauty of Marin County. Located directly across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, its gorgeous landscapes and opportunities for outdoor recreation make it worth spending at least a full day of exploring. This is where Ty grew up. Naturally, then, it is one of our favorite spots in the area. We recommend hiking the Marin Headlands, bluffs on the tip of the Marin County peninsula that offer beautiful views of the bridge, the city, and the Pacific Ocean. We also love Mt. Tamalpais (known as “Mount Tam” to locals), a peak behind the headlands that feature expansive views of the city to the south, and amazing panoramas of the Pacific Ocean to the west. There is also great camping in the area at Pantoll Campground. The best way to see these sights is to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and take Highway 1. The windy, cliff-side highway hugs the coastline, dipping into tiny towns such as Stinson Beach and Point Reyes along the way north. Bring a lunch. Have a picnic. And enjoy.
What are your favorite things to do in San Francisco?