Last updated on June 4th, 2020; Published on May 1st, 2020
About this time last year, Mark and I were preparing for a three week holiday across five states in the US. This particular post has been a year in the making but I’m happy I’m finally able to share the details of our California road trip, the fourth and last leg of our trip to the USA.
Previously, I shared details about our first stop in New York City with a cost breakdown. Then, I shared a post about our time in New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC. After our time in DC, we got on a five-hour flight to Los Angeles where our adventures in California began!
California Road Trip – Stop 1: San Francisco…
As soon as we landed in LA, we got into a Lyft to get to the home of our Turo car lender. Mark had made arrangements to rent out her Ford Mustang for our road trip. We decided to rent through the peer-to-peer car-sharing company, Turo because it was cheaper and more convenient than other rental services we looked into. Fortunately, we had a wonderful experience with it.
We met with the host, took some pre-trip photos of the car and then, we hit the road for a five-hour drive to our Airbnb apartment in Berkeley. Tired from the drive, we ordered dinner in, did a little research about our stops the following day and enjoyed our downtime in the beautiful accommodation. The next day, we got up nice and early and headed to our first stop in San Francisco – the Golden Gate Bridge.
There are several Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints. We planned our day around a few of them and began our drive. Our first stop was supposed to Fort Point but Mark missed the turn and as a result, he made a travel faux pas. He tried to back up on the road just before the bridge!
But Big Brother was Watching…
We were faced with the option of going across the bridge, paying a toll and then finding a way to get back to our stop or backing off the road. Mark chose to do the latter! He stopped the car and tried to back off. He had just put the gear into reverse when a voice boomed out of nowhere.
“Sir! Do not back up! You have to go through the toll!”
Man, I nearly jumped out of my body! I was so sure someone was on their way to arrest us. Was this person just looking out of a tower or something, waiting… watching? Ooof! Well, we didn’t get arrested. We drove across the bridge and pulled off at the first turn. It turned out to be the H Dana Bower Rest Area which was an excellent vista point and parking area.
H Dana Bower Rest Area…
Battery Spencer Vista…
After spending some time here, we decided to walk down to Battery Spencer which was across the road. No, we didn’t have to do a ‘Lagos Road Scamper’. There were bridges and walkways to get us there and it was quite a lovely hike to the top of the hill.
Battery Spencer is one of the best viewpoints for the Golden Gate Bridge. It also has a lot of history that dates back to the 1900s. At that time, the military used it as part of the harbour defence for the San Francisco Bay. Now, it houses the remains of the old military buildings and of course, a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
After Battery Spencer, we headed to our next stop, Fisherman’s Wharf. We actually drove down to the Wharf before realizing we were famished and it was probably a good idea to get breakfast first. So, we found a good parking spot (which can be rare in San Francisco) and then we walked a couple of minutes back to a nice restaurant called Eight AM.
Breakfast was good but very expensive – as with many things in San Francisco. And unlike a few reviews I later found online, we didn’t need to wait in line to be seated.
The service was great. We were seated outside and the weather was wonderful. I really enjoyed our time here.
Re-energized after a good breakfast, we set out to explore our next stop.
Fisherman’s Wharf & Pier39
Fisherman’s Wharf & Pier 39
Our next stop was the Fisherman’s Wharf, one of the most popular tourist destinations in San Francisco. It’s a bubbly neighbourhood with lots of restaurants and shops and of course, the famous Pier 39 where you can see sea lions sunbathing and frolicking in the water. Beware though, these creatures have a very funky smell!
Mark and I enjoyed our time here. It’s definitely a very touristy place with a lot of people and stores (aka “tourist traps”). While some travellers may not find this appealing, I did. I loved walking around and watching the street performers impress the crowd. I also loved trying out clam chowder and sourdough bread bowl and observing the sea lions. In fact, I just loved the overall energy of the place!
We left the Fisherman’s Wharf area, stopped by a nice cafe for tea and coffee, drove by China Town and then, we went to Bernal Heights Park in the Mission District.
Bernal Heights Park
Let me tell you, just walking in San Francisco is a workout! I nearly passed out walking up to Bernal Heights Park. I mean, I nearly passed out walking everywhere in San Francisco but that hike to Bernal Height Park! Chalé! Then there was the wind that threatened to throw me off the hill. It was an experience!
Bernal Heights Park was great and it had amazing views of the city.
Finally, we went over to La Taqueria, a Mexican place in the Mission District for burritos and with that, we wrapped up our first day in San Francisco and our second day on our California Road Trip!