My first time to San Francisco and the Bay Area was during the summer of 2016. I went there to visit my best friend for her birthday, who had recently moved there. I was only there for a short weekend so we did not have a lot of time for a lot of events. However, we still found plenty of things to do while in the Bay Area.
Lyon Street Steps
After my flight landed in San Francisco, we decided to go check out the Lyon Street Steps. At the very top of them, you have an amazing view of the bay, Presidio Forest, and Palace of Fine Arts Dome. My friend and I were even in the mood to go down and then up the stairs for more photo opportunities. The area is a favorite to be used as an outdoor gym. Many people were there using the steps and there were even people there with their personal trainers, working on HIIT sessions. There are so many steps and they’re quite steep so it is definitely a workout. My friend and I were very out of breath once we were back at the top.
California Academy of Sciences
After the Lyon Streets, we went to the California Academy of Sciences to check out their indoor rainforest. We were able to find discounted admission tickets through Groupon so it was quite affordable for us to go. Once there, it was such a cool place! It really is an indoor rainforest. You can feel the humidity while walking through it. If you’re able to, I highly recommend going to check it out. They have some awesome animals that you may only see in a rainforest.
After our day exploring in San Francisco, we then went to San Jose where she lived at the time. We relaxed by her pool, went out to dinner, and caught up.
Winchester Mystery House
The next day we went to the Winchester Mystery House. I honestly thought it’d be more of a haunted tour but it’s not. It’s about the history of Sarah and when she began to add on to the house. No one really knows why she did it. There are a lot of theories but none of been proven the truth. She also had a thing for the number 13. She incorporated it throughout her house whenever she should: 13 steps, stained glass with 13 stars, etc. Although it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, it was a very interesting house and tour.
The Mountain Winery
One afternoon, we went to a winery, The Mountain Winery! We found one on Groupon that offered discounted tickets (yay Groupon!). It offered great views of the area, wine, and we even got ourselves a cheese plate. Although it was a short visit there, it was nice and relaxing.
Alcatraz and Angel Island
Of course, we had to go to Alcatraz. It’s one of the top spots to visit while in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Unfortunately, my friend and I decided not to buy tickets until after I arrived in California since we wanted to figure out which day would work best. Well, that was a poor decision. At that point, all of the Alcatraz tickets were sold out. In order for us to go, we had to buy the combo tickets for both Alcatraz and Angel Island. Not a big deal, we just had to be careful with time since we ended up going the same day I was flying back to MN.
Alcatraz was even more than I originally thought. It was originally an island fortress to protect the Bay Area. It was then turned into a military prison before becoming the famous prison it’s now known for. Since it was a fortress originally, much of the structures are from when there were military families on the island. There are gardens, homes, etc.
Since it was a prison, there were many jail cells inside. The tour did a great job setting up ones to mimic what they used to be like. They also were great at explaining how different people attempted to escape, and whose cell was whose. You even get to go into a solitary cell to experience what it was like while on Alcatraz.
After Alcatraz, we took a ferry over to Angel Island. It is a large national park in California. We also learned that it was the West Coast’s version of Ellis Island. It is where people went to migrate to the states from 1910-1940. There is, even more, history to this island than that. It’s crazy to think about everything the island was used for before becoming a park.
I was able to pack all of these things, including a failed beach day (the weather was crap!) all in a 3 day weekend. I had the opportunity to go to San Francisco again through work. With this trip, I was able to do more things that I had to miss out on during the first trip. You can read about them in my post, Things To Do In The Bay Area: Part 2.
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