Where better a place to start seeing the 50 states than San Francisco, California?

Most people associate San Francisco with the vast array of skyscrapers and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Tucked into the hills just north of the city center, however, lies a forest better known as Muir Woods. Located inside of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, visitors travel from all corners of the globe to catch glimpses of the redwoods harbored in its depths.

Carved along the coastline, the trees are often covered with the coastal fog, which only adds to the eerie and enticing effect. Lucky for us, not a cloud covered our views of nature at its finest.

Experiencing the Park

As Muir Woods is a national park, entrance comes includes with an America the Beautiful National Park Pass (which is very handy for us.) Normally, the park fee is $10.

For outdoor lovers, there are plenty of hikes that take you around the heart of the forest and show you what has past visitors talking. If you’re fact-based and love reading, check out the Visitor’s Center. There, you’ll find a selection of literature about the park, with a gift shop and cafe nearby.

As for us, we looped around to the third bridge and checked out Cathedral Cove, where bird-watchers and tree-lovers alike wandered the corridor of redwoods where no talking is allowed.

Crossing Back Over the Golden Gate

Although fresh off the plane and heartily exhausted, Josh and I made our way back into San Francisco’s City Center. Before submersing into the chaos that surrounded us, we headed toward Baker Beach first. There, views of the bridge accompany silk-like sand on a stretch of land plucked straight from the imagination.

Josh (left) and Andrew (right)

Once we left, the loud bustle of cars and public transportation mixed with the overwhelming spiderweb of people crawling around the streets as we searched for our hotel. We eventually spotted the Twin Peaks Hotel, our first lodging for the trip. Not the best of rooms, mind you, as it didn’t even have a bathroom, but it got the job done.

Drinking with Ariel Views

Scouting out the first of many familiar faces on this trip, Josh and I met up with my cousin Kendra. As it was Josh’s first night in America, we decided to head out to Union Square and get some alcohol flowing through our veins.

The first stop on our list was a rooftop bar called The View in the San Francisco Marriott Marquis. Situated on the top of the 39th floor with windows making up all of the walls, we got a perfect view of the city as we dropped back our drinks.

Once we closed out from that bar, we headed to another rooftop bar in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel called The Starlight Room.

The Morning After

Jet lag is certainly no joke.

Although I didn’t arrive off a 13-hour flight, Josh was all but spent by the end of the first day.

Especially after the alcohol kicked in.

After parting ways with cousin Kendra, Josh and I slept off the first night’s excitement and rose bright and early the next morning to check out Twin Peaks (the hill, not our hotel). With a bit of a hangover, we decided now would be the perfect time for Josh to try his first Taco Bell — which was only made better by the view we had from Dolores Park as we ate it.

With a near desperation not to let our trip to San Francisco end, we finished out our trek at the top of Twin Peaks, where we found arguably the best views of the San Francisco area.

7 Places to Check Out in San Francisco

In a perfect world, we would have a week to spend in each of the cities we have planned out. As it is, time is always of the essence, and most of what we’re able to do is nothing short of sightseeing.

That being said, here are seven quick activities you can accomplish if you’ve only got one day in San Francisco:

  1. Take a drive up Lombard Street, which is one of America’s crookedest and steepest streets.
  2. Visit Pier 39/Fisherman’s Wharf, which is a mecca for food and shop options. You might also be able to catch a glimpse of some wildlife here and there.
  3. Take a walk along Haight Street, then finish in Golden Gate Park.
  4. Because you’re in San Francisco and you can’t not do it, drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. Even if you only drive across, turn around, and come back, it’s worth it.
  5. Hit the top of Twin Peaks. You can either drive, cab or hike your way up there. Either way, the top provides you with an unbeatable panoramic view of the city. Where could you go wrong?
  6. Visit Muir Woods. You might as well if you’ve already crossed over the Golden Gate.
  7. Take a gander through Union Square. There, you’ll be close to Chinatown, lots of shops, and various sculptures to tickle your artistic fancies.

Have you ever been to San Francisco? What are some of your favorite things to do, or what would you do if you’ve never been? Let me know in the comments!