One of the Christmas gifts I gave to Debbie was a four-hour private tour of San Francisco in a VW Hippie Bus.
We started out the day taking the SMART train from downtown Petaluma to Larkspur, where we boarded the ferry to cross the Bay.
As we got closer to San Francisco we saw the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz in the distance.
Our tour didn’t start until 1:00, so we had a chance to have lunch at Gott’s Roadside. Our cheeseburgers were really good and hit the spot. The Ferry Building has a farmer’s market outside with specialty stores inside.
Our tour guide, Tyler, was right on time. He reminded me a lot of Jerry Garcia and looked a lot like him too. (Check out the picture on the sliding door)
We started by driving past Fisherman’s Wharf, where there’s a lot of restaurants, tourist shops. We didn’t stop because Tyler said they were tourist traps and if we wanted souvenirs, they would be cheaper in Chinatown.
We stopped at the Palace of Fine Arts, which was built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition and is now used for Galas, weddings, and other events that need a large space.
We then drove though The Presidio, which was a military installation established in 1776 as Spain’s northern most outpost. It’s now a 1,500-acre park with outdoor recreation area, miles of trails, scenic overlooks. It’s also home to the Walt Disney Family Museum, and Lucas films where there is a statue of Yoda out front.
One of the scenic overlooks is at Fort Point National Historic site which is located right under the Golden Gate Bridge. We got an up-close view of the bridge (literally) before we drove across to the northern side, through the Baker-Barry tunnel up Hawk Hill to a spectacular scenic view stop.
Traveling south back over the bridge, and the Presidio, we made our way to the Richmond District to the Sutro Baths ruins. Built in 1896, this bathhouse once held seven indoor saltwater pools and could accommodate 10,000 people at one time.
Driving past Ocean Beach, where there were huge waves, we then drove through Golden Gate Park, a spectacular 1,017-acre park developed in the late 1800’s on what was windswept sand dunes in an unincorporated area of the Peninsula, known as the Outside Land.
The park’s landscape is home to 680 forested acres, (each tree was hand planted), 130 acres of meadows, 15 miles of drives, and 33 acres of lakes. Additionally, there are numerous fields and many open spaces.
The park played the role of sanctuary after the cataclysmic 1906 Earthquake and Fire, when 200,000 homeless residents were forced to camp in the park, first in crude shelters, and later in temporary wood barracks.
Leaving the park we made our way to the famous Haight-Ashbury, the birthplace of the 1960s counterculture movement. Upper Haight Street is a hodgepodge of vintage clothing boutiques, record shops, bookstores, dive bars and casual, eclectic restaurants.
We then drove up to the top of the Twin Peaks (elevation 922 Feet) for a spectacular view of the bay area.
Then back down the hills to Alamo Square to see the iconic Painted Ladies, a row of historic Victorian homes.
It was time to head back to the Ferry building and on our way back we were able to drive down the infamous Lombard Street with its 27-degree angle and eight hairpin turns. Unfortunately, this tight road does not offer any places to get out for photos, so I had to borrow one from the web. The street is truly a landmark of San Francisco.
It was a long awesome day and we both learned a lot about San Francisco. If your ever in the area, this city is a great place to visit. Although, after hearing that they increased the cost for the private tour 50%, I’m not sure I would recommend it. They still have group tours at $85 per person, but that’s only for two hours and two photo stops.
Until next time