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Five Things To Do In San Francisco To Avoid The Crowd (And Five Things To Avoid)


I got to go (had to go) to a training in San Francisco. My company put us up in the Westin St. Francis in Union Square. A very nice hotel with some very annoying quirks, such as paying for internet, who does that anymore? And the mini-bar let you play a fun game where if you pick something up and don’t replace it within 10 seconds, your room is charged for it. 10 seconds isn’t even enough time to read the card that tells you to put it down within 10 seconds. Ugh.

I know I shouldn’t be complaining for staying in a free hotel room, but the training was an SEC update full of exciting topics such as What’s the PCAOB been up to, Revenue Recognition and The New Standards for Accounting for Leases……. Bang!!!!!! Sorry, just had to wake you back up. Anyway, we were able to see some sites around the city and now I have some strong feelings about what to do and not to do in the city. Also we lived there for 3 years.

See below for Five things to do in San Francisco to avoid the crowd:

5. Marin Headlands

Peaceful with some great views.

Peaceful with some great views.

Any amazing picture you see of the Golden Gate Bridge is probably taken from the Marin Headlands. Not only do you get incredible views of the bridge, the bay and the city but you also get to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. Once you’re over the bridge, skip the first turnout on the right. It’s the one with seven million cars in it and fourteen thousand buses. Instead, take the next exit and turn left under the freeway to start your journey up into the Marin Headlands.

4. Fort Point

Great views of the bay and you get to look up the Golden Gate Bridges undercarriage.

Great views of the bay and you get to look up the Golden Gate Bridges undercarriage.

Situated under the Golden Gate Bridge, this place makes for some amazing views of the bay (and you get to look up the Bridges dress).

3. Land’s End

A nice hike plus you're not worried about getting run over by angry drivers.

A nice hike plus you’re not worried about getting run over by angry drivers.

This one requires a little bit of walking, which is something you’ll be doing anyway in San Francisco. Located at the northwest point of the peninsula, Land’s End gives some breathtaking views of the Bridge and outer bay.

2. Palace of Fine Arts

It's surrounded by a nice neighborhood too which makes for some nice evening walking.

It’s surrounded by a nice neighborhood too which makes for some nice evening walking.

It’s the place all the police showed up and arrested Sean Connery in The Rock. Do you need more info than that?

1. Take a Ferry to Tiburon

Great views riding the ferry across the bay.

Great views riding the ferry across the bay.

You can look at the bay all you want but there’s nothing like actually being on it. The Ferry is about $10 per person per trip. Which means you only spend $20 to get to Tiburon and back (if you leave your spouse there). The route takes you right next to Alcatraz island, into the Angel Island Harbor and finally into Tiburon. And you don’t need reservations! We got there five minutes before the ferry left and were able to get tickets.

Honorable Mention:

  • Coit tower. It can get crowded, but if visited at the right time it’s definitely worth a trip.
  • Golden Gate Park. Perfect for a picnic or checking out the botanical gardens.
  • Twin Peaks. No, not the show. It has a great view of the city.
  • Haight/Ashbury Area. There’s a lot of weirdos but the shops are fun and interesting. Lots to see.
  • Alcatraz Island. This only gets honorable mention because you have to book tickets months in advance. Otherwise it would be #1 above.

Five places to avoid:

5. Union Square. It’s an overcrowded mall that’s filled with aggressive homeless people.

4. The Ferry Building. Very pretty building but usually packed to the brim with people and nothing to do but shop there. If you do go there, eat at Gott’s, great food.

3. AT&T Park. Tickets to the games are overpriced but you can take a tour of the stadium for cheap. If you’re not into baseball, that’s fine because no one there actually is.

2. Lombard Street. It’s a windy street, drive Highway 1 if you want windy. It’s not worth it. If you really feel like you need to see it, head to the east side of Lombard street near Coit Tower. You can see it from there and not be in the crowd of people blocking traffic.

1. Fisherman’s Wharf/Pier 39. It’s like Union Square but on the water. It’s just an overcrowded and overpriced place to shop.




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