Road Trip Finale in San Francisco
From Yosemite National Park, the road led us to the shores of the Pacific again. On the way, the landscape once again dramatically changed, and we were greeted by the rugged cliffs in San Francisco Bay.
These are our favorite moments from the Bay Area and San Francisco, where our road trip came to an end.
Detour to the tech giants
On the way to San Francisco, road signs reminded us that we were approaching the global high-tech center, Silicon Valley. Regardless of whether you are a fan of the tech giants, a short detour to the tech companies is worth it.
We had a lot of fun posing with Android statues and looking for our hometowns on a giant Google Maps screen in Mountain View.
Skyline views around the Bay
The closer the Pacific, the more picturesque shore towns there are to explore. We decided to call it a night in Tiburon, a charming town with a fantastic view over Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline. The place offers a chic vibe, nice shoreline path, numerous boutiques, and delicious restaurants.
Catching up with our Planet’s history at Point Reyes
There is probably no better spot to witness the strength of nature, then at Point Reyes National Seashore. The peninsula geologically belongs to the Pacific Plate. A narrow valley separates it from the North American Plate to the east. Underneath lies San Andreas Fault, the tectonic border between the plates. The rocks to the west of the fault zone are different from those just a few miles away to the east of the San Andreas fault.
On the Earthquake Path inside the reserve, you can see how the area moved 20 feet (6 meters) northwards in just a few seconds during an earthquake in 1906. A fence that drifted apart back then can still be visited.
Point Reyes National Seashore also offers unique wildlife encounters. During the time of our visit in August, the rut season had just begun for tule elks. The majestic elks can only be found in California. By the end of the 19th century, they were hunted to near extinction. Today, they are being reintroduced to the wild. We spotted a herd close to Tomales Point.
Good to know: There are more opportunities for wildlife watching throughout the year. Check the park’s website for the optimal timing for the species of your interest.
Foggy views along the Shoreline
It is believed that in the summer of 1579, Sir Francis Drake came ashore in Point Reyes and camped on Drake’s Beach. Back then, his ship’s chaplain complained in a diary about “the stinking fogges.”
In summer, the fog is omnipresent. At Pierce Point Ranch, it felt almost spooky. The place truly reminded us of a scene from a Hitchcock movie.
As we continued on the curvy Shoreline Highway, it got even spookier. Finally, we joined the Hwy 101 and hoped for a sunny Golden Gate view. We couldn’t have been more wrong. We only saw a Golden Gate like silhouette covered in thick clouds.
Visiting sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco
Fisherman’s Wharf is San Francisco’s iconic waterfront boulevard with food markets, restaurants, and one-man outdoor shows.
But most importantly, it is home to a colony of sea lions occupying Pier 39. They “moved” to the city in the early 20th century after an earthquake.
They found enough food and attention and decided to settle down permanently. The colony is bigger in winter, but in recent years, many of them stay year-round. We couldn’t get enough of the smelly barking ocean cuties. They sure can pose for pictures.
Tip: With good weather, the views over Alcatraz and even Golden Gate Bridge are spectacular, especially from the second floor of the pier.
Painted ladies and historic cable cars
A visit to San Francisco isn’t complete without a ride in an iconic cable car. Just wait for one, hop on and enjoy the ride.
A word of advice: Check the SMFTA website for lines and prices. If you plan to ride multiple times, a day ticket might be the most convenient option.
Painted ladies, the famous Victorian rowhouses undoubtedly belong to San Francisco’s must-see attractions. Whether you choose to look for the famous Full House houses opposite the Alamo Square or just walk through the narrow streets of the neighborhood, the rainbow-colored buildings are around every corner.
Tip: Bring comfortable shoes. The streets of San Francisco are really that steep.
Dining in Chinatown of San Francisco
San Francisco’s China Town is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the biggest Chinese enclave outside Asia. Traditions, languages, and cuisine have been preserved for generations making it a perfect spot for a delicious dinner.
Our friend picked the R&G Lounge at 631 Kearny Street for us. The food was finger-licking good. Don’t worry about the slightly dodgy entrances. Inside, the restaurants look very welcoming and surprise you with a variety of authentic dishes. Be sure to try the fried battered crab.
San Francisco was a great ending to our road trip through California. We had a magnificent time driving 2.000 miles along the fantastic coast, through beautiful national parks, and exciting cities.
Check out the whole trip
Part 1: From Las Vegas to Joshua Tree
Part 2: Joshua Tree National Park
Part 3: Venice Beach
Part 4: On the Road in the Sierra Nevada
Part 5: Yosemite
Part 6: San Francisco and the Bay area (You are here)