My word for 2018 is explore. Never have I embraced a word as much as I have this year. When Bob initially told me he was attending a conference in San Francisco my initial reaction was “ok, see ya!”. But, something was grating at me. Bob mentioned I could tag along. Should I? He’d be at lectures and workshops all day, so I’d be on my own with a big city to explore! Hello word! So I purchased a plane ticket, and spent a week exploring San Francisco alone.
Exploring San Francisco Alone
While Bob was available in the evenings my days were spent exploring San Francisco alone. When I mentioned to people that I’d be visiting places on my own during the day one of the comments I’d get was “aren’t you scared?”. Truthfully, no. If you’re scared to be alone then maybe you need to ask yourself why? I trust my judgement that if an area seems sketchy or unsafe, then I hail a cab and GTFO. I guess my situation is a little different in that being an only child I had a lot of time alone growing up. I’m comfortable making plans to visit places alone. Considering the alternatives are staying home or hiding in the hotel, embrace that alone time and explore! Plus San Francisco is a big city, you are never truly alone.
Accomodation at The Hotel Adagio
Part of it being a no-brainer for me tagging along on this trip was that our accommodation was covered by Bobs work. We stayed at the Hotel Adagio, a Marriott hotel just a couple of blocks west of Union Square. We had two extremely comfortable queen beds, a fridge (on request) and plenty of storage space for clothes and cases. I’d definitely stay there again, and would highly recommend it. One of the takeaways from the hotel was their amazing bathroom mirrors. The mirrors are backlit and throw off AMAZING light that is super flattering. Naturally I became obsessed with the amazing light (perfect makeup application!) and found this one on Amazon (affiliate link). It’s on our bathroom remodel plans!
One great thing about visiting any major airport the US is the transport options. Be it car hire, shuttle buses, cabs, Uber or Lyft. Day one and I was already experiencing new things because we took our first Lyft from the airport to the hotel. This was pretty cheap too, and super convenient. This trip was our first time using Lyft and I definitely recommend it over getting your own car in the city. San Francisco has Muni, an amazing public transport system so that is also an option for tourist locations (piers, parks, Golden Gate bridge etc). Seriously I never waited longer than 8 minutes for a bus! Definitely recommend. Plus it’s definitely an economical option at around $3 a fare. Muni has an app so everything can be purchased on your phone, or just use google maps to discover which bus you need and the timetable comes up. Easy!
What to do?
It’s been 20 years since I visited San Francisco. We stayed for a couple of days, and I remember that I had a horrendous cold. Needless to say I don’t really remember a whole bunch about that trip. Obviously when you think of San Francisco you think of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, but there are lots of places to visit. The aquarium, Pier 39, Embarcadero, Art galleries, museums, the academy of sciences, china town. Seriously so much stuff. Plus there are tons of other things to do malls, cinemas, bowling, ice skating, yoga studios, gyms, theaters and more. I took a ton of photos so I’ll be sharing more on the specific locations I explored soon.
I had two things I definitely wanted to do: visit the sea Lions at pier 39 and go to the asian art museum. Both those were checked off on day 2 so what next? Exploring San Francisco alone I had the whole city at my fingertips so I hit up the muni schedule to check timetables and noticed something called a “city pass“. 4 attractions, plus 3 days of free travel for $89. The attractions were all places I was already thinking of going: Academy of sciences, aquarium, modern art museum, and a boat trip around the bay. At 50% off this sounded like a bargain. When I looked further I discovered I could trade in the trip around the bay for a trip to Alcatraz. I knew that was something I fancied so I bit the bullet and signed up. Definitely worth the $89 and I highly recommend for anyone visiting San Francisco. City Pass is also available in other major cities so it’s worth a look if you’re traveling!
The disparity in income levels is huge. It’s super expensive to live there, so most live outside the major city. One thing we immediately noticed on day one was that San Francisco has a major homeless problem. It was weird staying near Union Square with high end designer stores on one corner, and homeless people on the other. While most of the homeless just sit with signs, a couple of times I did see some arguing (near China town) and saw one homeless guy peeing in a doorway. Plus on more than one occasion we smelled strong urine while walking around. Being wary of big cities is a good thing, not all places are good for tourists to visit, especially at night. Exploring San Francisco alone, or any other major city is so much easier with Lyft or Uber. Even more so if you don’t know the area. I highly recommend using Lyft, it was our first trip using it and we’re huge fans now. One night while going to a restaurant, we walked through a pretty dodgy area and vowed that after that we’d just get Lyft for anything ‘off the beaten track’.
Smoke gets in your eyes
I’m going to preface this paragraph with a little disclaimer that I am a non-smoker, and where I live very few people smoke. There are also very few places where people smoke in public. As such it’s a HUGE shock to come to a city where it seems like 50% of the people smoke. And not just cigarettes. Multiple times a day you’d walk through a cloud of smoke only to be confronted with the skunk smell. No pleasant. If you have any respiratory issues (asthma etc) I’d advise a mask. In fact we saw a few people walking around with them. Initially I thought it was to ward off colds/flu now I’m thinking it may have been to avoid the smoke. Other things that get in your eyes? You’re hair (it can get windy so always have a hair tie if you have long hair) and rain! We had a real mixture of weather on our trip so layer up and have a waterproof jacket.
Gotta Catch ‘Em All
As a Pokemon Go player I did a little research before going to San Francisco on the state of play. I joined their discord group and asked a bunch of questions and discovered that San Francisco is Pokemon Go heaven. We had a gym I could hit from our hotel room, and my go+ never stopped the whole time we were there. Plus it’s an absolute Mecca for spoofers. As such whenever I went to a raid there were always lobbies available. In a week I gained 1 Million XP! That’s more than I earn a month! It’s a players paradise so exploring San Francisco alone did wonders for my Pokemon Go leveling.
My top tips for playing in San Francisco:
- Get a Go+ or Gotcha
- Fully upgraded Pokemon storage
- Fully upgrade bag storage
- Buy lots of extra raid passes!
- Take a battery pack (or two!)
If you haven’t already, check out my post about all the yummy food we ate in San Francisco. In my next few posts I’ll share details of the locations I visited exploring San Francisco alone. I took so many photos that it’d be a shame to waste them with one quick post right? Coming soon… Alcatraz, Pier 39, The Aquarium of the Bay, The modern art museum, the asian art museum, and The california academy of sciences.
- Would you go somewhere on your own?
- What’s your opinion on smoking in public?
- Hows the public transport where you live? It’s atrocious in our small city.
Sounds like you had a great time! I’ve never explored a city alone but I guess I’ve neber really needed to or had the opportunity to. At least you get to decide exactly what tug want to do and when!
Yes only having myself to please made things so much easier!
Would love to visit SF, but I agree, the income disparity is HUGE!
Yes, it was kinda shocking to see. Esp the price of food and necessities. We live in So Cal, and we balked at the increase in prices.
David Allen Elliott
City pass is so important when you are traveling around San Francisco. You did make me a little former home sick though. I miss being out there and seeing the seals and on the pier and eating great food and meeting fun people. It’s been too long since I have been there.
City Pass was such a bargain!
To travel alone and just be one with the locals is something I look forward to doing some time soon.. And ahhhh San Francisco is one of those cities I need to explore for sure…Thank you for this guide
Definitely great for a week but I don’t know I’d go for any longer. I love nature so much!
Wow you went alone! Nice experience! In my case, I had a friend who was travelling with me. Then a host family toured us around SanFo for a day. it was nice because we had a ride and people who told us where to go and showed us around 😀
I had my hubby in the evenings but he was at conference all day so I was alone in a big city!
Trần Quốc Hưng
It is such an excellent advice for me because I am going to spend my summer vacation on this place! Thanks for posting:))
Stay tuned I’m posting more San Francisco posts soon!
Love the hotel you stayed at! Seems like you had a blast 🙂 San Fran is definitely on my list!!
I had so much fun! Worth the trip!
I would love to go places like this but the trashyness scares me away. I cant stand people that smoke or the carelessness you see in big cities. And the homelessness saddens me. We should not see that everywhere. Its something people need to pull together and help
I agree. The income gap was vast in this city. And the city life was great for a few days but I couldn’t live there. I love nature too much!
Oh how fun…it looks like you had a blast. This is definitely a place worth visiting.
I had so much fun, and got so much done in 5 days!
This is one place in the US that I have not been too. The golden gate bridge looks like an amazing place to visit x
Oh you should make a trip! Definitely worth a visit!
I love the idea for word of the year and cannot imagine how hard it must be to decide one word to follow and take along the whole year. How do you pick one?
And explore is an amazing one for 2018!! LOVE it
I explain a lot in my post here http://www.dihickman.com/one-guiding-word-2018-explore/
So happy you went and travelled I want to be more like that travel and feel confident to go and explore and learn about the world.
Start with going to places in your own town alone. Like the cinema!
I never developed an interest to travel alone! But now i feel, i should do it!
Definitely builds some personal skills I never knew I had/needed.
Iya - Louisa
This sounds like you’ve had a great time! Thank you for all the helpful tips! Ive never really done solo traveling so this could come in handy
Always fun to go places, alone or with others.
I was in SF with my mom a couple summers ago, but we only had a day to explore. We went to the Golden Gate Bridge and up to Muir Woods as our highlights. I love that you were playing Pokemon Go, my mom was getting onto me for it while we were there too!
Hahaha love that your Mom was getting you into Pokemon!
What a great trip! I’m glad you listened to your instincts about going. It sounds like a lot of fun. I am too afraid to travel alone, but I have anxiety so it’s a little different for me. It’s great you have so much confidence to do it and I’m sure it can be a little more fun going at it on your own. YOU got to chose where you spend your time and the places you visited there.
Yes only having myself to please made things much easier!
I love San Francisco, and what a fantastic guide with great pictures. Also I love that you have a word for the year, I do this as well it really helps maintain focus.
Oh yes! Definitely choose a word each year. I’ve done it for 10+ years and its an amazing way to approach goals for the year.
I must admit I have never traveled alone. It’s something I would love to try it though! Maybe soon! I also have never been to san francisco ! I loved reading your post! I should start planning my next trip!
Hahaha I’ve already started planning my next trip!
My first trip to San Francisco, I went alone. Okay, technically I wasn’t alone as I was meeting up with friends there, but it was a great experience. I wish we had city passes back then. It would have come in so handy!
Technically mine wasn’t alone. Hubby was at a conference all day, we did at night and the days I went exploring alone.
This sounds like an absolutely lovely trip!!! I adore San Francisco!! I would never be traveling on my own though because I’m a single mama to a special needs child who is an amazing travel buddy!
Oh definitely you need some help!
I LOVE TRAVELING ALONG – or I did. Now I love traveling alone with my husband! 😉 I went to NZ and AUS by myself and it was quite possibly the best thing I could have done for myself at that moment in mylife!
Hah that was my trip. He was there, but at conferences all day. I saw him for dinner that was it.
One thing I enjoy doing during time alone is exploration on my own now that I love adventure! And you were lucky that San Fransisco has an amazing public transport system to ensure you get to where your going as soon although that might not be the case over here. Anyway, it seems you had fun and too much too learn too now that it had been 20 years since your last visit,right?
yes 20 years! I know it’s been 20 years as we went the year we got married. 1998!
This sounds like it was a lot of fun!
I may have laughed when I read about the Pokemon GO!
I’ve never played it but I’m sure there are many people around my town that would LOVE to play in such a large city!
Hahaha yes my husband pokes fun that I play but it’s a fun game. I played the originals 20 years ago so it’s somewhat nostalgic for me