I had never been to San Francisco before or Northern California for that matter and being on my umpteenth trip to SoCal I decided to put this to rights, however with schedules and other commitments whilst on holidays (i never stop), it meant we (my friend Barry and I) would drive with the result that we would have just over 24 hours in the Golden Gate City.
One reason I wanted to go was to meet up with 2 friends I hadn’t seen in many years – Aaron and Caleb. Aaron works in radio and Caleb in hospitality. We set off from Los Angeles early on Sunday morning and headed north. First stop was drop off the dogs in Camarillo and then our journey continued. The miles flew by on the 101 and before we knew it we had passed by Santa Claus Lane (with no sign of the big man)!
The bellies started to growl so no better place to stop than Santa Barbara and its beautiful pier for a bite to eat at the Harbour Restaurant where the pancakes went down well!
Stretching our legs
After a short stroll around the pier we jumped back into the car and continued our journey north. Howard Stern podcasts kept us two radio nerds entertained as we whiled away the hours just making the odd toilet stop before San Francisco was in our sights. My excitement was beginning to mount by then – not only for getting out of the car that we’d been in since 9am (it was nearly 5pm now), but also to see this great city and meet up again with Caleb and Aaron.
We pulled up to Aaron’s house and he was right outside to greet us – it had been way too long and really great to see him! He was running out so he showed us where to put our things and then we left too – it was time to explore!
Ice Cream time!
We drove around the city and down by the harbour which was pretty amazing. Such an atmosphere and so many people milling around. From here I could see the famous Alcatraz and the outline of the Golden Gate (it was getting dark and it was beginning to get foggy at the bridge). We parked outside Ghiradelli’s famous chocolate house and went to purchase some souvenirs of the chocolate variety! Such a choice and some nice free samples as we entered.
We had made a reservation at the restaurant where Caleb works called Outerlands (near Ocean Beach). After driving around for a good ten minutes to find parking, we went in and were shown to our table. Moments later Caleb arrived from the kitchen area and the hugs ensued! The smoked chicken went down well and we chatted and reminisced into the late evening.
Caleb was off the next day and kindly agreed to act as tourist guide for us and we met early (ish!) the next morning to take in as much of the city as we could. We stopped off for coffee and set off literally driving around the city. First stop was one of the highest points in the city Grandview Park. It certainly lived up to its name with stunning 360 degree views of San Francisco. It was a great spot for a selfie!
It was then onto the centrepiece – the Golden Gate Bridge! As we came towards it, the enormity of it became apparent. I rarely actually feel like a tourist but I certainly did as i looked around in awe as we made our way across one of the most iconic landmarks of America’s west coast.
We got to the other side and pulled into the recreation area which was heaving with tourists – all after the same shots as I was!
One of the best parts of having a local with us was that he knew the other places to go for great views – we took a side road which brought us some amazing views of the bridge and the city in general.
San Francisco is well known for its hills, but one of the more unique of those hills is Lombard Street . It’s easily one of the windiest streets in the city! Again this is a must for any sightseer. It offers spectacular views on the way down where we were greeted by more tourists!
We drove down to the harbour and took some time to walk around and catch up over some ice cream before it was time to get some dinner at Starbelly where the burger and fries gave a tasty ending to a great day!
Back to catch up with Aaron and his Back to the Future memorabilia collection including hover board. A 24 hour trip I won’t forget!
One of the other places I visited in Los Angeles is the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. Read about that here