Walking: Exercise and the best way to see San Francisco

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There is a never-ending list of things to see and places to go as a tourist in San Francisco, California. In the week my mom and I were there, we knocked almost everything off our list. It was a little hectic and our legs were worn out from trekking up and down hills and chasing buses to get back to our hotel, but it was totally worth it.

Our first day in the City by the Bay, we went into the bay and hiked around the world-famous Alcatraz Penitentiary. This was my favorite activity from the whole trip (I’m a big time history nerd- I promise I don’t frequent prisons). I was *voluntarily* in a cell, which I can’t possibly imagine living in for years on end as some men did. Or showering in groups. Yeesh. I hear prisons are a lot more like hotels nowadays, but this was not the case for those at Alcatraz. From certain vantage points, prisoners could see the beautiful city a very cold swim away but the only time they were outside, they were surrounded by massive concrete walls. The coolest part was meeting a former inmate who wrote a story about life in Alcatraz- he’s only one of four former inmates that is still alive. We bonded over the fact that we are both originally from Kentucky while he autographed my book. If you’re ever in San Francisco, it’s worth the hiking and the gorgeous views on the ferry ride over!

Alcatraz! The cells were so tiny- I'm not exactly a large person. I can't imagine living in this little concrete room for years. But I got to meet William Baker, who was an inmate!

Alcatraz! The cells were so tiny- I’m not exactly a large person. I can’t imagine living in this little concrete room for years. But I got to meet William Baker, who was an inmate!

To continue our tourism, we walked all around Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s home to many t-shirt shops, fried seafood restaurants, and other knick knack stores that you’re used to seeing in tourist traps. So of course since I was a tourist, I had to buy a couple of cheap t-shirts and a coffee mug. There were also a few old ships to tour and a little bay where a few crazy swimmers were braving the frigid waters (even in summer) to get in a good swim. It reminded me a lot of Charleston, South Carolina, where I live now- super cool if you’re from out of town, but not so much if you live there.

I felt like I was in a movie when riding the cable cars around!

I felt like I was in a movie when riding the cable cars around!

San Francisco is known for its many hills that don’t disappoint when you walk up and down them in person. Although I didn’t get any good photographs of it, my mom and I got to see “The Curviest Street in America”, Lombard Street. Our hotel was on this street, but it took us a couple of days to find the curvy part that ended up being a few short, but steep, blocks from our hotel. If you don’t have a car to drive the hairpin turns, you can walk up and down the hundreds of stairs and see the awesome houses that line this crazy road. Or if you get as tired of walking as we did, there’s the world famous cable cars to take you up and down the hills of the city. If it were less expensive, I would have ridden them everywhere so I didn’t have to wait for a bus next to the people smoking pot. Because that also happened.

I couldn't capture a great photo of just how curvy the street is, but these are just some of the steps my mom and I had to walk to the top of the hill. And this house on the street was super cool!

I couldn’t capture a great photo of just how curvy the street is, but these are just some of the steps my mom and I had to walk to the top of the hill. And this house on the street was super cool!

At the end of our trip, we finally got to see the famous Chinatown! I can only imagine it was like China without having to cross the Pacific Ocean. We got to see regular cookies turned into fortune cookies and lots of weird looking produce and meat that you don’t normally pass in a grocery store. Other than that, I’m not really sure what else we passed because there was nothing written in English. 

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Red lanterns lined the main street in Chinatown, where my mom and I visited a small fortune cookie factory and had no idea what were we walking past because nothing was in English.

There were so many other things to see and activities to do, like visiting the park where the Full House opening credits were filmed. I wanted to rent a bike to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, but we ran out of time. I did get to drive across it once but was stuck in the middle of a bus without a view. So the only time I got to enjoy the view of the bridge was from the many ferries we took back and forth across the bay. 

One of numerous photos I took of Golden Gate Bridge from a ferry ride.

One of numerous photos I took of Golden Gate Bridge from a ferry ride.

If you ever want to escape the heat in the summer or get out of the snow in the winter, San Francisco is the city to go to! Traveling to a different time zone isn’t something I get to do often, and I’m so glad I got to experience a new place and get out of my comfort zone with my mom!

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