11 Things You NEED To Do In San Francisco And Monterey
If there’s one place on the West Coast you NEED to visit, it’s San Francisco...
Spent your teens watching The Hills and eyeing up a trip to Los Angeles? Or fancy yourselves as a bit of a pool party animal and always wanted to hit up Las Vegas? Well, allow us to change your mind…
If there’s one place on the West Coast you NEED to visit, it’s San Francisco. With warm weather all year-round and an influx of long-haul budget airlines flying into the city, a trip to San Fran is an ideal long weekend destination.
Yes, srsly. MTV visited from Thursday-Tuesday and we got LOADS done. Here’s a list of amaaaaahzing things you need to do on a trip to the City by the Bay…
1. Feel the wind on your face on the Golden Gate Bridge
It’s one of San Fran’s most iconic features and one of the Wonders of the Modern World. Sadly, if you’re not hiring a car, getting there is a bit of a mish. MTV used Big Bus San Francisco and found it to be an AMAZE way to see the sights - and great value for money. From $45.00 (roughly £34.00) for an Adult 24-hour ticket, it’s a really easy way to see a lot of the city (and its amazing architecture) in a short space of time. We’d allow yourselves 2-3 hours, depending on how much you want to hop off. The highlight though, without a doubt, is driving across the Golden Gate Bridge. But be warned: being on the top deck of a double-decker bus driving across a suspension bridge over the Pacific Ocean is not for the faint-hearted…
2. Take a selfie with the sea lions at Pier 39
Located in the Fisherman’s Wharf neighbourhood (San Fran’s Piccadilly Circus), Pier 39 is something everyone needs to visit on a trip to the city, just to check out those world-famous sea lions. The best bit? It’s FREE! Nobody really knows why all those sea lions decided to set up shop at Pier 39 but the fact is they’re there and they won’t be leaving any time soon. It does get super busy - it’s the second biggest tourist attraction on the West Coast behind Disneyland California - with a lot of families with children. It’s definitely worth it though - those sea lions are so damn cute…
3. Soak up the history at Alcatraz Prison Island
Once home to some of the USA’s most notorious criminals - including Al ‘Scarface’ Capone and the ‘Birdman’ Robert Stroud - Alcatraz is a prison of legendary status. Fans of Orange Is The New Black will LOVE this - as well as history buffs. We’d recommend doing the audio tour to soak up all the info, and make sure you book ahead as this place is sold out months in advance. Definitely don’t expect to just turn up and jump on board a ferry to the island. Prices start from $33.00 (around £25.00) per person if you book online at Alcatraz Cruises.
4. Enjoy fresh seafood looking over San Francisco Bay
Nom nom nom, even thinking about our meal at McCormick and Kuleto’s is making us hungry. You can’t go to San Fran and not taste some delicious, fresh seafood - it’s just got to be done! McCormick and Kuleto’s - located in the historic Ghirardelli Square - offers tasty seafood and fresh steaks aplenty, with the stunning views over the San Francisco Bay area an added bonus. Don’t just take our word for it - it’s been awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for its consistently high reviews. Don’t miss out!
5. Get an adrenaline rush on the cable cars
Just like the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco’s cable cars are an iconic part of the city. OK so they’re mainly used by tourists these days but WHO CARES? They’re awesome! They’re also the only manually operated cable car system in the world. We jumped on at Powell Street and got off at the bottom of Lombard Street, before jumping back on the same way. It’s not exactly like going on Colossus at Thorpe Park, but you do get an adrenaline rush from hanging off the side! Just don’t make the same mistake as us and buy a Starbs just before you get on - no food or drink is allowed on-board… *sob*
6. Stand in awe of the stunning skyline on a ferry around the Bay
When you think skyline, you might think New York, LA, London, Sydney… but San Fran’s skyline is also one to be marvelled at, and there’s no better way to view it than from a ferry on the bay. We gawped at the city while on our ferry to Alcatraz Island but Blue & Gold Fleet cruises offer the San Francisco Bay Cruise Adventure, which takes you all the way along the Bay (past those pesky sea lions on Pier 39) up to and underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Eeek!
7. Check out the Andy Warhol art at SFMOMA
If by some chance you experience a rainy day on your trip to San Fran, then a visit to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is a must-do. Marvel at modern artwork by Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, before breaking for a spot of lunch on the lovely terrace. Oh, and did we mention it’s the largest museum of modern art IN THE WORLD? Adult tickets cost $25 - teens and children get free entry.
8. Sip an iced coffee as you walk along the Bay
There’s something about exploring a city by foot that makes you feel like a local. We had an hour or two to spare so went on a leisurely stroll along the San Francisco Bay Trail, starting from just before the AT&T Park (the home of baseball team the San Francisco Giants). There wasn’t a game on at the time so it was really quiet - in fact it feels a bit like you have this part of the city to yourselves. We walked past South Beach Harbour before stopping for a selfie in front of the Oakland Bay Bridge. It might not be as popular as the Golden Gate Bridge, but it’s still pretty epic. You could literally walk for hours as you gaze out over the Bay.
9. Hike up Lombard Street - the most crooked street in the world!
Yes it’s a tourist trap, but it’s got to be done! Famous for its eight hairpin turns, Lombard Street has got to be seen to be believed. Yes, it’s technically just a road - but it’s so much more than that… it’s an architectural marvel, people. If you haven’t got a car then it’s perfectly walkable but consider this a warning - it’s blimmin’ steep! You will feel your glutes ache after a while. The view at the top is amazing though. Maybe get a taxi to the top and walk down it though… Hmm, why didn’t we think of that?
10. Marvel at the marine life at Monterey Bay Aquarium
A two-hour drive from San Fran, Monterey is the perfect city for those that love the beach and love fish. Yes, fish. Monterey Bay Aquarium houses thousands of marine animals, including octopuses, sharks, puffins, sea otters and seals. It definitely beats Brighton Sealife Centre. The best bit is the outside terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It’s simply mesmerising. Adult tickets to the aquarium cost $49.95 (around £34.00).
11. Feel the sand between your toes on Monterey Bay beach
California might have dozens of famous beaches (Laguna, Venice and Santa Monica to name a few), but Monterey Bay boasts some of the world’s most spectacular marine life, including killer whales, blue whales and dolphins. Can you imagine, just sitting there reading about Katniss and co in the Quarter Quell, and you spot a whale just having a breather in the distance? If you want more of a chance to spot Free Willy et al, then we’d recommend a whale watching tour, but you’d need to allow yourself a good afternoon or so to do it. There are definitely whales out there though, because Monterey Bay featured in the BBC Show, Big Blue Live (betcha didn’t know that, DID YA?)
What are your fave things to do in San Fran and Monterey? Tweet us @MTVUK!
- By Sophia Moir
MTV travelled to San Francisco with WOW air. Flights from LGW to SFO start from £199.99 one way. For more information or to book please visit www.wowair.co.uk or call 0118 321 8384. Visit www.sanfrancisco.travel for more info on travelling to San Francisco.