I recently went to the US for the first time, spending a busy week in New York followed by a more chilled week in San Francisco with my partner. I reviewed many of the places we went to on Google Maps, so here’s a selection of activities / restaurants / landmarks in our first 4 San Francisco days!

Note: This is a series of posts, with NYC Part 1 & Part 2, and San Francisco Part 1 & Part 2.

Day 1 (9th June): Arrival

We got to San Francisco early in the afternoon, so took a meandering walk to the water! Lots of landmarks and sights, but we didn’t stop long at many. A relatively light 7,953 steps (3.68 miles).

san francisco day 1

Hotel Emblem ★★★★✰

The rooms are very aesthetically pleasing, the staff will happily provide a mini fridge upon request.

The rooms aren’t insulated too well from each other, so you may hear your neighbours. Additionally the TV was a bit unreliable in our room, so we just Chromecasted content the whole time.

Also experienced an issue where I had to pay ~$1k more than the quoted price on check-in for a week’s stay, as a returnable deposit(?). When checking out they were apparently changing payment systems, so instead of refunding the $1k, they tried to ADDITIONALLY charge the final total later when I’d left… Luckily it was a travel card so didn’t have that much on it and it was automatically declined repeatedly, still waiting for the refund a couple of days later though.

Original review (3 photos)

Pier 7 ★★★★★

Lovely place to sit and eat ice creams whilst looking out over the water.

There’ll likely be lots of fisherman up the pier, especially at the end, but they’re friendly and keep themselves to themselves.

Original review (1 photo)

Thonglor SF - Thai Restaurant ★★★★✰

Day 2 (10th June): Alcatraz & Piers 30+

23,456 steps (9.45 miles)

san francisco day 2

Alcatraz Island ★★★★★

A great island and museum, with surprise bird colonies!

The audioguide within the main jail area works well, keeping people moving whilst also providing lots of information.

The island itself has a few nature-y areas to walk around besides alcatraz itself. Maps are $1, and worth having on hand whilst navigating around.

Original review (4 photos)

Sears Fine Food ★★★★★

We came here for breakfast, and can’t recommend it enough!

The choices were varied without being overwhelming, and the sausages were lovely. The staff are pretty busy around breakfast, but still do a good job of making sure you have everything you need.

Original review

Boudin Bakery Cafe ★★★★★

Great bread, check out the seats under the staircase and you can watch the bakers making the bread!

Original review (1 photo)

Musée Mécanique ★★★★✰

Lots of interesting machines here, although a few don’t quite work, and the few modern electronic machines are very jarring.

Original review

Norman’s Ice Cream ★★★★★

Halo halo and amazing ice cream!

The owners are so, so friendly, and they serve the Filipino classic halo halo w/ ube ice cream. I’d recommend the grasshopper pie and banana ice creams, we ended up coming here far too often on our trip, wish we had one near us!

Original review (4 photos)

Day 3 (11th June): Golden Gate Park & Steps

This day was spent exploring Golden Gate Park a bit, then climbing all the steps to Grandview Park: 22,370 steps (9.89 miles).

san francisco day 3

Roxanne’s Cafe ★★★★✰

Friendly staff and decent portion sizes, try and get a table down the slightly quieter “side” bit if you can!

Original review

California Academy of Sciences ★★★★★

A pretty large museum, and the incorporation of both a rainforest area and an aquarium makes it last much longer!

It’s easy to lose most of a day here, and the included planetarium shows are excellent. We attended one on colonising other planets narrated by Daveed Diggs(!), animated & explained well, and even including a few minute gap in the middle to let an employee update on the very latest James Webb Space Telescope news.

Original review (4 photos)

Tusher African Hall ★★★★✰

A wide open hall with various taxidermied / skeletons of animals, culminating in a (live!) penguins exhibit at the end.

Original review

Hidden Garden Steps ★★★★★

A cute set of steps, each of the steps has a few little details that is worth looking at on your way up! There’s another 20-30 steps after those pictured, just around a corner at the top.

After going up these, I recommend following the hill up the 16th Avenue steps to Grandview park for an amazing 360 degree view of the entire city.

Original review (3 photos)

16th Avenue Tiled Steps ★★★★✰

Very similar to the Hidden Garden steps (which I recommend walking up on your way to these steps), but with many, many more people taking photos!

Original review (1 photo)

Grandview Park ★★★★★

The steps up might burn your thighs a bit (especially if you’ve just gone up the 16th & Hidden Garden steps!), but it’s absolutely worth it.

Beautiful views across the entire city on all sides, on a clear day you can see for miles. There’s a few benches on the steps up, and one at the top with a perfect view.

Original review (6 photos)

Jeffrey’s Toys ★★★★✰

Plenty of toys for kids, and also quite a few collectables for very big kids!

Original review (3 photos)

Umai Savory Hot Dogs

This unassuming hotdog restaurant at the bottom of Westfield exceeded expectations!

I went for the “Mucho Magnificent” and… it’s spicy. I know it warned me about spice, but “creamy habanero” is apparently way spicier than I expected! It tasted amazing, the drink & (v good) fries were definitely essential though.

Original review (1 photo)

Day 4 (12th June): Yosemite ★★★★★

This was easily favourite day of the entire trip, despite having to leave 6AM to be picked up by a tour bus! A tiring day, far more than the steps suggest: 20,273 steps (8.22 miles)

san francisco day 4

Yosemite National Park ★★★★★

Absolutely impossible to capture the atmosphere in photos or words.

I recently spent 2 weeks in the US, and a day trip to Yosemite National Park was by far the highlight. I could have easily spent 2 weeks here, every corner you turn there’s yet another astonishingly unique view.

El Capitan, Giant Sequioa, waterfalls, stunning valleys, I recommend coming at least once in your life.

Original review (14 photos)

Tuolomne Grove Trailhead ★★★★★

There’s a great casual hike here going down to the giant trees and the tunnel tree. It takes about 60m if walking quickly, but I’d recommend 2-3 hours to really enjoy the surroundings.

Keep in mind you’re higher up, so the hike might not be quite as oxygenised as you’re used to!

Original review (3 photos)

Dead Giant Tunnel Tree ★★★★✰

The little loop here is a great walk, with the giant trees and the tunnel tree providing a nice diversion.

There’ll likely be a fair few tourists here taking photos, but that doesn’t take away from the otherwordly scale of the tree!

Original review (1 photo)