Seeing San Francisco On Foot And By Bus

Seeing San Francisco on foot and by bus were for us the best combinations of being able to explore the city of San Francisco in full and in as little time as possible.

We found our 2 day Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour tickets were the most efficient way of seeing San Francisco on foot and by bus. With limited time it made sense and these two modes of transport were the quickest ways to get around the city and to see and do as much as possible.

Folks, welcome to the penultimate recap of our recent trip to Hawaii and San Francisco.

The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square.

We arrived here in San Francisco on day 11 after a 6 hour flight from Hawaii.

Our accommodation for this final part of our trip was  The Westin St Francis on Union Square  (above).

Arriving at 22.20, we were both exhausted from the travel and in much need of sleep after the previous late night in Honolulu at the Hawaiian Luau.

Being really tired, our brains weren’t functioning properly and of course with San Francisco being a city of earthquakes, we never thought of the fact that the pipes in the Westin rattling that night might actually have been a mini tremor!

Anyway, eventually both of us did get a good nights sleep. What might have also helped was the re-acclimatizing from Hawaiian temperatures of 28°C back down to 18°C, more like what we’re accustomed to in our home city of Glasgow during the summer months!

View looking down a street in San Francisco.

So, onto day 12…..

We started with a hearty breakfast at Lori’s Diner. A Denver Omelette for myself and French toast for Lynne, setting us both up well for the day. Fuel for plenty of walking and exploring.

We then walked through Chinatown to collect our bus tickets and start our bus tour at The Cannery.

Fortunately we were blessed with great weather throughout the duration of our stay. This meant being able to view everywhere from the top deck of the bus with none of our views being obscured by that all too common San Francisco weather phenomenon, fog!

The bus took us all over the city and suburbs enabling us to see all the historical streets and sights like Lombard Street, Golden Gate Park and of course the Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco is still a growing modern city so in amongst all the historical buildings are new ones,  like the Salesforce tower (above), which when completed will be the tallest in San Francisco.

San Francisco City Hall

I’m always interested by the history of places and that’s why seeing San Francisco on foot and by bus worked for us.

The bus tour provided both the scenery and the verbal commentary telling us all about the history of the city without us having to get off and investigate in-depth.

It was fascinating to hear how City Hall (above), the seat of local government in San Francisco, was strengthened after the 1989 earthquake had twisted its dome 4 inches on its base.

The base is now allowed to move with the motion of any future earthquakes, preventing the dome from swinging like a pendulum and shaking the base to pieces.

View of Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco from bus.

Right, I’m jumping ahead to day 13 now, because it was that day’s afternoon of our itinerary that we finished off the bus tour.

We visited Alcatraz that morning covered in that separate post.

So, we did the Sausalito part of the bus tour that afternoon.

It would have been nice to have had the time to get off the bus and walk about the picturesque town, but there just wasn’t enough time!

Is there ever?

But at least that bus tour allowed us to see the Golden Gate Bridge, which looked stunning in the sunshine from both it’s North end and the South end.

North End view of Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco.

That night we had dinner in Calzone’s in the Italian quarter. I had a 3 sausage pizza and a slice of lemonchello cake. Lynne had a margarita pizza and tiramisu.

I mention that dinner as it was the only time we ventured further than The Cheesecake Factory on Union Square.

Now you know how much I love my cheesecakes don’t you?

Cable car. San Francisco.

Day 14 was our final full day in San Francisco and of our whole trip.

We should have been up and out of the hotel early making the most of this our last day but instead as we were exhausted and we had a bit of a well deserved lie in!

When we finally got out of the hotel mid morning, I regained composure buy having a hot dog from a street vendor in Union square and we headed off to take a ride in one of the famous cable cars.

Back of a cable car going up a street in San Francisco.

Bear with me here for my little story.

In 1998 I was at the Glastonbury music festival and lucky enough to see Tony Bennett perform all of his classics including “I left my heart in San Francisco”.

A particular line of that song “to be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars” somehow just stuck with me and I always thought how I’d love to be in San Francisco one day. On one of those “little cable cars”.

Well, roll forward nearly 20 year and there I was. How amazing is that?

And the cable car journey was just as magical as I’d imagined!

Lynne Lockier on the Powell and Mason cable car line down to Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco.

Anyway, we took the Powell and Mason line down to Fisherman’s Wharf for a walk about that area and to find somewhere for lunch.

Again we were blessed with amazing weather.

I’d been really careful up to this point to ensure I had plenty of sun screen on throughout our whole trip but I was caught out in San Francisco and actually got sun burnt in the 18°C daily temperature!

Lady Lynne, always being the sensible one (and with having the colour of hair and sensitive skin as she does) never leaves any where we stay without being well covered.

Fisherman's Wharf sign San Francisco.

There’s certainly plenty to see in Fisherman’s Wharf not just shops and restaurants.

My favourite place we visited was the old slot machine and video machine arcade. I found an old Galaxian video game there and I could have quite happily spent hours re-living my childhood on that arcade game.

I left a new high score on the video game and I think Lady Lynne was suitably impressed! #still got it 😉

Sea lion colony at pier 39 San Francisco.

Lynne’s favourite was definitely the sea lion colony at pier 39.

We watched and listened to the sea lions for a while.

They’re definitely fascinating creatures to observe.

View of wooden pontoons and the sea lion colony at pier 39 San Francisco.

I mean what a great life they have!

Basking in the sun and occasionally jumping into the water to do a spot of fishing!

Looking through the old railway terminus at Pier 41 you can see the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien.

Looking through the old railway terminus at Pier 41 you can see the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien.

Now docked at Pier 45, it’s a “Liberty Ship” and only one of two in its class still sea-worthy. It took part in the D-Day invasion and ferried combat troops.

It’s been fully restored and occasionally sails too. Again, that trip will have to wait until next time.

Alioto's Restaurant Fisherman's wharf San Francisco.

Alioto’s is one of the most historical restaurants located in Fisherman’s wharf

It was where we had our delicious lunch!

The restaurant was originally just a fish stand in 1925 but by 1932 business was doing well.

Alioto built the first building on Fisherman’s Wharf and began selling crab and shrimp cocktails then a full restaurant opened in 1938.

Lunch of clam chowder. Alioto's Restaurant Fisherman's wharf San Francisco.

We finished off our final day in San Francisco with a lunch of clam chowder washed down with a bottle of cool crisp Californian Pinot Grigio, what else could it have been?

Talking about wine, I had wanted to take the wine train up to Napa Valley, but time wasn’t there and that’s another thing added to the list if we make it back here one day!

That list just got longer didn’t it?

Well folks. I hope I’ve given you just a taste of what an amazing cultural and friendly city San Francisco is. Next week I’ll give recap of our trip to Alcatraz, which was undoubtedly Lady Lynne’s favourite part.


  1. David @ Spiced

    Oh man, you’ve got me ready for vacation now, Neil! I’ve only been to San Francisco once, and that was really only a stop as I was heading up to Napa Valley outside of SanFran. I need to go back and experience the city for real now. Laura and I also love those Hop On Hop Off buses. We’ve used them in a number of different cities, and they’re a great way to get around town when you only have limited time. Oh, and the video game nerd in me has to give you a high five for the new high score! Do you watch Seinfeld? (Not sure what kind of American tv shows you guys can get over in Scotland.) But your Galaxian story reminds me of George and Frogger: Glad you and Lynne had so much fun in SanFran! Hope your week is off to a great start, my friend!


      I’ve so got to go back because I really want to see the Napa Valley David, I’m jealous that you got to see that part. But of course grateful for what we did manage to see in the time we had!

      Yes, the hop on hop off busses are the way for seeing places aren’t they? We’ve got them in Glasgow here and a trip on one is actually on Lynne and I’d bucket list. LOL.

      Oh, and thanks so much for that Seinfeld clip. I absolutely loved it and was in stitches laughing! Lynne watches TV more than I do so I’ve only watched Seinfeld a few times, but really enjoyed it! 🙂

  2. Cristine

    I have been to San Francisco many times and have taken lots of photos but none were nearly as wonderful as yours.They really capture the magic of the city.


      Hi Cristine, thank you for taking the time to read my post about San Francisco. I’m glad you liked my pictures.

      I’m humbled by your comments, truly.


  3. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

    San Fan. has so much to see! I’d just be shooting with my camera non stop! Can’t wait to hear about Alcatraz!!!


      So much to see, and so many pictures that could be taken Rebecca! If I posted them all there would be no room left for recipes! LOL

      Hope you’re having a wonderful birthday.

  4. GiGi Eats

    I have only been to SAN FRAN once… And it was when I was like 6 and I don’t remember ANY of it. But I know I need to get back there ASAP!


      We loved San Fran GiGi, there’s just so much to see and do there that we couldn’t fit it all into out trip.

      I particularly want to go back for the Napa Wine Valley train!! 😀

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