City Guide Travel

San Francisco + Big Sur City Guide

August 16, 2019

First impressions

The range of hills is quite dramatic. Many streets are so steep that it feels like falling off a cliff. So you better prepare to be a good driver (if you’re renting a car) and a good hiker. Good news is, there’re a ton of great city views everywhere.

It can get really windy especially near the ocean. I mean, dress in layers and forget the hat.

If you only have 3 days to visit San Francisco, here’s a suggested itinerary and city guide with our top recommendations.

[ Presidio ]

>> Lyon Street Steps

By the south east corner of the Presidio, you’ll find a charming neighbourhood of flower covered houses and a steep set of staircase that rewards you with one of the best city views.

>> Marshal park

The hike down to Marshal park is kind of surreal in the fog. All you can see is the misty winding steps in front and an abyss of cloud where there’s supposedly a big honking bridge. Karl the Fog tends to come out to play in the evenings.

[ Sausalito ]

Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to the north side (Sausalito), and hike to the vista point at Battery Spencer. It’s one of the highest points to get that close up view of the bridge.

[ Lombard St ]

This infamous twisty road is covered with equal amount of humans with cameras and hydrangeas. The neighbourhood surrounding it is quite interesting too as it’s positioned at a high point with views of the waters.

[ Golden gate park ]

>> Conservatory of Flowers

The Golden gate park is massive and could take a full day to explore. With limited time, just visit the conservatory of flowers. It’s a greenhouse filled with all sorts of wild species of plants.

[ Painted Ladies ]

A row of colorful houses in front of Alamo Square. Cute, though looked much smaller than what I imagined…

[ Financial district ]

This street view of Oakland bay bridge bares uncanny resemblance to the Insta-popular view of Manhattan bridge in Dumbo.

[ Food ]

Here are our favorite food spots in the city.

  • Tartine bakery
  • Taco & rooftop at EL TECHO, 2516 Mission St,
  • Taco La Taqueria 
  • Cuban food: Media noche 
  • Boba guys
  • Off the Grid search food trucks
  • Sightglass coffee
  • Nute’s ramen
  • Philz coffee
  • Burma love 
  • Blackwood: korean fusion 

[ Transportation ]

Ridesharing is your best bet to get around in SF. Public transportation is slow and lacking. If you’re going to the major spots that are connected to public transit, download the Muni app and buy the $5 day pass.

Big Sur

Apple Park

On route to the Big Sur, stop by Cupertino to visit the Apple Park visitor center. It’s a beautiful space located beside the actual spaceship, where visitors can buy Apple merch only available at this location (retro t-shirts, watch bands, and hats), enjoy coffee in the cafe, see a floor model of the Apple Park, and catch a glimpse of the spaceship from the deck.

I’m a massive admirer of Steve and Apple, so it was meaningful to observe the incredible design of the Apple Park, the olive trees planted around the visitor center, and even the rounded glass of the space.

Hwy 1 Coastal drive to Big Sur

There’s no real way to plan for this drive. Simply stay on Hwy 1 and stop along the way for the view. Here are a few main spots.

  • Monterey Bay
  • Car mel by the sea
  • Bixby creek bridge
  • Point Lobos Natural state reserve: Sea Lion Cove
  • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: McWay falls

Photos by me (iPhone XS) and Eric Cheng Photography.

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