A Few Days in San Francisco (Day 4 – 29 July 2014 – Walking and Riding to Coit Tower, Lombard Street, Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Bridge, and More)

Posted: March 7, 2015 in Family and Friends, Full Life, Road Trips, Travel, Travel Resources, Vacation
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We had been planning a day trip to the Sonoma wine country for our final day in San Francisco, but we just felt we wanted more of San Francisco on this trip, so we decided to stay in town and check out some of the sights. Since two cable car lines, Hyde Powell and Mason Powell came within a block of our condo we decided to take the cable car to Market to start our trip. We walked down to the front of the cable car museum and only had to wait a few minutes before we were able to catch a ride. We were in the enclosed part of a car but I guess are hands and arms were much safer.

Dave and Wendy on the number 14 cable car

During our honeymoon stay a couple of years earlier, my wife had nearly lost a hand pointing at something right when a cable car had passed us. She got a piece of the gripman’s mind for that! It was still a fun ride down the hill to Market Street. Just before Market everyone has to get off the car.

Cable Car we road to the Market Stop

There is always a long line at the ends of the line, so we were glad there was space on a passing cable car near our condo. We decided the first “sight” we would see should be Coit Tower. Of course our cable car ride had actually taken us further from Coit Tower than when we started, but it was still fun. We decided to take a streetcar down Market Street to get closer. I think the street cars are almost as cool as the cable cars, and they are usually much easier to get on to since they are bigger, run more often, and do not seem to be as popular with the tourists. Since we had a 3 day metro pass, it just made sense to take advantage of it.

There are posters in the streetcars that give you information on the style of streetcar and the city the particular paint scheme was used for. If you don’t can’t remember later a quick search with the streetcar’s number will get you all the information you need about its history. The streetcar we rode in was a PCC style Streetcar, painted in a 1946 and later Brooklyn style. The PCC style car was popular and used in many cities. This one had been purchased from Philadelphia.

San Francisco PCC Streetcar 1053 - with Brooklyn 1946 paint

I should really start using paper maps when I’m somewhere new or less familiar. Once we got on the streetcar I tried to get my bearing using Google Maps on my phone. It kept pivoting and wasn’t tracking our current location, so it really wasn’t very helpful. We should have ridden almost all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf, but we got off before we reached the end of Market Street. I was completely turned around! Once I realized my error I decided to just use Google walking/transit directions to get us there. It suggested crossing the street and getting on a city bus. This went much smoother and we got off the bus at Washington Square Park about 4 blocks from Coit Tower. There were lots of people in the park, exercising, stretching, and hanging out. Just to the north of the park is

St Peter and Paul Catholic Church

We went north a block, then headed up Greenwich Street toward Coit Tower. No matter which direction you come from, if you are walking, there are tons of stairs. There are bus lines that go up the hill and you can drive up, but there is very little parking at the top of the hill. I would recommend walking up the stairs!

Climbing the stairs to Coit Tower

There are 360 degree view of the city when you reach the top of Telegraph Hill and walk around Coit Tower.

View toward the Golden Gate Bridge from near Coit Tower

I’m sure they are even better up in the tower, it is impressive.

Coit Tower San Francisco

However, on this day the line was long and there are terrific views from lots of places around this very hilly city, so we skipped the ride to the top. I love the art deco style, inside and out. The city has taken very good care of this landmark.

Coit Tower Plaque

We walked back down along Telegraph Hill Road for part of the way back down the hill, then took some stairs down to the corner of Filbert and Kearney Streets. Rather than heading back toward Washington Square Park, we decided to zigzag toward the northwest. We had seen a nice area with lots of outdoor seating along Columbus Avenue just before we got off the bus, and wanted to walk back toward that area for lunch. We decided on a place called Calzone’s Pizza Cucina. The food and service were very good. We felt recharged after lunch and decided to walk down Columbus Avenue toward Lombard Street. The famous Lombard Street hill was only a few blocks from the intersection with Columbus Avenue. We got the mandatory group picture at the bottom of the hill.

All of us below Lombard Street San Francisco

Then we walked up the hill, for the experience, but also because the cable car stop at the top of the hill is a good place to be able to find a short line to get on the cable car combined with lots of people getting off the cable car. The hill is steep, but it’s not too tough of a climb. Although it has lots of winds, the sidewalks go straight up which is steeper, but shorter. If you get short of breath here are lots of reasons to stop for pictures. One of my favorites is the house with the largest Bougainvillea I’ve ever seen climbing the front of the house.

The largest bougainvillea I've ever seen

The view from near the top back toward Coit Tower is pretty impressive too.

Looking down Lombard street with Coit Tower in the distance

As we had hoped, there was just a short wait for space on a cable car. The location of our condo, just a block from the Cable Car museum really simplified getting back there. All the cable car lines pass fairly close to the museum, which also houses the motors and wheels that move the cables! We took a short break at the condo, then decided to take the car out for a ride to a couple of other sights. We started with a drive down Lombard Street with the top down.

Riding down Lombard Street with the top down

Then we headed to one of our favorite places in San Francisco, the Palace of Fine Arts. If you’ve never been there, you’ve probably seen it in the movies, like Bicentennial Man and The Rock. The one thing that is hard to grasp in both movies and pictures is the scale of the place. The structures are huge, especially the domed rotunda!

Palace of Fine Arts

We strolled around the pond taking the structure in from several angles. Even with us in the picture it is difficult to see the massive size of the structure.

Jenny and Eric Rial at Palace of Fine Arts San Francisco

We took our time and enjoyed the park like feeling around the pond, including this shade.

Jenny in the shade at the Palace of Fine Arts San Francisco

Although I took dozens of pictures, I think this is the only one that lets you see the size. Notice the people walking under the dome. They are dwarfed by the size of this place.

Fountain in the pond in front of the Palace of Fine Arts San Francisco

Although we had ridden our bikes up there yesterday Wendy and Dave had not stopped at the Golden Gate Bridge yet, so we also drove up to the park. It was starting to cool down, so we made it a quick visit. We walked down the hill a ways from the parking lot for a few pictures at a different angle. This shot shows the Golden Gate over Fort Point.

View of the Golden Gate from Battery Park

A little further up the hill I took this picture of Dave and the two ladies.

Wendy Dave and Jenny in front of the Golden Gate Bridge

When we got to the top Jenny and I took another picture in the same spot we had taken pictures when visiting for our honeymoon.

Jenny and Eric Rial at the Gold Gate Bridge 2014

After the Golden Gate we headed down to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner then back to the condo for the evening. This was our last day in San Francisco. We had a great time and look forward to another visit in the future. There are still lots of things we want to do in and around San Francisco. The next morning we headed to Reno and Tahoe to spend a few days there at a car show in Reno – Hot August Nights, and to spend at least some time enjoying the lake. I’ll do another post for that part of our trip sometime soon.

  1. amb1998 says:

    All the places you’ve visited look wonderful! Please check out my blog, many thanks

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