Day 1 In San Francisco, California
This post was written 5/17/2016 & updated 3/12/2020
Touristy Things in San Francisco
If you're just passing through San Francisco, you can easily hit touristy attractions in a short time. While I love delving into the less known and more local side of a destination, I still like to hit the major attractions. Obviously, it's easier to be submersed in local life when you are somewhere for a longer period of time than a day or so.
Drive Down Lombard Street - The Most Crooked Street in San Francisco
Always Turn Around!
Don't forget to turn around! You might be missing a great view if you always plug on straight ahead.
The Cable Cars in San Francisco are so cute!!! I love watching them. Unfortunately, we didn't get to ride them this time or get a classic photo hanging off the back of one, but I definitely intend to next time I'm in San Fran! ;-)
There are so many places to get great views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Some beaches and areas that offer great views for free also get very crowded. So consider what time of day and what day of the week you are visiting. We spent a lot of time driving into packed full parking lots and not even getting to park and enjoy the scene after all. Still, there are endless opportunities to see the Golden Gate Bridge and also the Bay Bridge from many wonderful angles. More on that in the future too ;).
Golden Gate Bridge
Leaving The City By The Bay
I found San Francisco easy to navigate and drive in. Still, being a city with lots of residents/workers/tourists, there will be traffic. If you are heading out of the city and want to miss a lot of traffic, try to get about 30 minutes out of the city by 3pm. You'll thank me later. And if you are heading to the coast, it works out great as you will arrive before it's too late in the evening.
Where I Stayed On The Pacific Coast
Stop back to see a detailed review ofwhere I stayed on the Pacific Coast: Gualala, California.
This post was written 5/17/2016 & updated 3/5/2020
So you want a convertible, eh?
DERRRRR! Who doesn't!? Before traveling, I read that the best way to road trip California was via a convertible. I have to whole heartedly agree now that I have done it. California is so scenic and between mountains, valleys, farmland, vineyards, and the Pacific Coast, there is so much to see. Being in a convertible allows you to be more immersed in that adventure and in all of the scenes that surround you. I loved it!
I never thought I could afford to rent a convertible
You probably didn't either, if you're reading this. I always usepriceline for renting cars. I have always gotten a discount on car rentals by either doing the "Name Your Own Price" or choosing an "Express Deal". I always looked for the cheapest price for a car and usually ended with an economy, compact, or maybe a midsized. Wasn't exactly thrilling, but got you from point A to B. Once I read how awesome a California road trip in a convertible is, I was determined! I started early and started with ridiculously low bids, as usual.
To take the offer or not to take the offer
After some of my offers were rejected, I started to get offers. 'We can't accept your bid of $xx, but Great News! We can offer you $xx' or something to that effect. Sometimes these are great deals, but before I accepted it, I wanted to see what was available under the Express Deals. I looked at a page like this:
... and I was sure to keep clicking "More Cars" on the right side, until I got to the end.
At the time when I was booking, a week in a convertible was going for over $1,000!!!! But somehow, there was one, ON AIRPORT, convertible option from Budget for $289.06 + tax (=$401.20). How could I pass it up? The smaller cars I would normally get were around $350 after tax anyways. How could I not justify getting the convertible? haha! And best of all, there was free cancellation on the reservation if something came up. That just adds peace of mind. I booked with myChase Sapphire card anyway, so I knew any issues would not be an issue with that protection, but still, it was an extra pillow to lay my head on. :o)
In the weeks after my reservation, I kept checking Priceline and never saw a deal even close to that again. Sometimes it's just about being persistent and catching the deal at just the right moment. I am so excited I did! Give it a try for your next trip!
Picked up the 'stang, and rolled into San Francisco in style, top down!!
Don't forget to check back and see where the horsies took us. ;-)
What's the best deal you ever got on Priceline, for a car, airfare, hotel - anything! Do you like using Priceline, or not so much?
This post was written 5/17/2016 & updated 2/26/2020
This flight was booked with free airline miles obtained via Chase Ultimate Rewards Points!
Recommended card for accruing miles/points: Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited
Recommended card for redeeming miles/points & for use while traveling: Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve
Flight 606 runs from PIT to SFO, leaving Pittsburgh at 7:05am and arriving about 5 hours and 40 minutes later at 9:45 am.
Wait. That's not adding up right, is it? Don't forget there is a 3 hour time difference from the east coast to the west coast here in USA. ;-)
TSA at PIT
We arrived about 2 hours early and the TSA line at Pittsburgh International was fabulously efficient and friendly. We had no issues (nor did we expect to) and sailed on through. Great start!
Got to the gate with plenty of time to munch on the snacks we brought from home. You know those tortilla chips were going to go stale in the cupboard, so.... ;-) .... and who would pass on a slice of chocolate rum cake at 6 am?! (I didn't)
Arriving at SFO was great. It was awesome to arrive in the morning and have a full day in California and a non-stop flight was a dream! Our flight was early and we had no trouble navigating the airport. We had already reserved a rental car in advance and guess what?! IT WAS A CONVERTIBLE!!! My next post will be about how we got a cheap convertible in San Francisco, so be sure to stop back for that ;-)
I was excited to find out that United Airlines offered a non-stop, overnight flight from SFO to FLL.
This was a perfect way to get from coast to coast with minimal effort and save a hotel night! The flight was scheduled as 5 hours and 46 minutes and I do believe we touched ground several minutes early.
After enjoying our last day in California with aBay Cruise and something to eat, we headed to the airport to drop off the Mustang and make our way to the gate.
Returning The Mustang Convertible Rental
It was a sad moment when we had toreturn the Mustang. Oh well.. it was fun while it lasted.
The return process was seamless and efficient. Pull up, get your stuff out, and the guys (and girls) take the car away. Granted, we also arrived in the late evening since our flight was close to 11pm, so maybe it wasn't a high-crowd time. Either way, it went smooth!!
Getting Through Security
Shopping At Pier 39 San Francisco
You were busy at Pier 39, weren't you?
I bet you saw sea lions, got something to eat, took a cruise around the bay, and maybe earlier in the day you had visited the famous Lombard Street. But no day is complete without meandering through some stores and doing a little shopping. Okay, that statement isn't really true. Plenty of days are complete without spending more money on stuff. Still, it's always interesting to pop in and out of unique stores and see what the offerings are. Pier 39 is no exception.
Lombard Street: 3 ways
Yes, it's touristy. Yes, I still love it. Yes, I still think you should visit at least once. And by once, I mean once collectively including all of these options:
1. Drive down to test your skillzzzzzzzz
Cruise Around San Francisco Bay
If you're looking to get off your feet for a while and enjoy the sights, you may consider taking a cruise in the Bay.
If you're interested in visiting Alcatraz Island, you'll want to reserve your tickets well in advance because they SELL OUT. Seriously. Speaking from experience. Still, I have heard from friends that it is worth the price to do it; they really enjoyed the experience and found it fascinating.
As you can see above, there are a lot of dining options at Pier 39 and it is convenient to have menus with prices posted where you can look at them and make a decision before you feel too committed. lol.
At random, we chose to eat at The Hook & afterwards enjoyed Trish's Donuts
The Hook Restaurant at Pier 39 in San Francisco
Pier 39 is famous for being a hangout for an insane amount of sea lions. It can provide amusement for young and old. It's stinky, loud, and amusing. So many arfs at one time, so many sea lions flopped ontop of each other chillaxing, others stretching and striking a pose, still others fighting to push each other into the water.
Good, quality, clean fun. I love it! Check out a few shots of the sea lions & co @ pier 39..
Tacos Tacos Tacos!
Where I come from, it's hard to get a good taco. So when you travel somewhere and see taco trucks all around... you eat at them. As many times as you can. hehe.
First and the absolute hands down best of the three taco trucks would have to be Tacos Hidalgo in Merced, California. Stumbled across this beaut en route to Yosemite National Park from the lovely Mendocino Coast. It was so undeniably delicious, I had to come back here on our way through San Francisco after Yosemite.
For just $1.50 you can get tacos like this:
Find Tacos Hidalgo Online: