Sometimes you need to just clear your head and be open to the journey ahead of you. Translation... Road trip. As I drive the 8 hours to San Francisco through the LA traffic, I appreciate all the blessings in my life and think about what might lie ahead.
Not planning anything except for where I am staying the first night I am excited and anxious. I had my first solo trip a few years ago. It was great to discover I could travel on my own, no family, no friends, no boyfriend. It's liberating! If you haven't done it, I recommend it. If you have, you know the feeling :)
I find it fun to ask people I meet along the way what are one or two things I have to see. Generally it starts a great conversation and you really get to know what that person is passionate about or interested in.
When I travel I will go to a couple touristy destinations, it is always good people watching and obviously they are popular stops for a reason. But when you meet locals or explore on your own that is when you come across the hidden treasures.
Ever wonder about the history or interesting facts of the places you may pass everyday or a really interesting place you walked by and took a photo? Well I decided to do a little research about a few places I saw on my road trip to San Francisco. I hope you find out something interesting you didn't know before about this historic and beautiful city! I know I sure did.
1. ARCH ON PIER 43
"Danger and Beauty"
What an amazing photo op. Built in 1914 and now abandoned for more then 25 years, the Arch on Pier 43 once served as a hoisting tower for loading and unloading rail cars off of ferries. It was also the location where prisoners were shipped off to Alcatraz.
"Back in Time"
Having as many as 250,000 visitors a year the USS Pampanito is part of the Maritime National Historical Park. It is now dry-docked and closed to public, but looks like it will reopen soon. Next time a tour might be in order.
This submarine sank six Imperial Japanese ships and damaged four others in the Pacific during WWII. Pampanito was part of the Balao class meaning "thick skinned," this state of the art feature allowed it to dive to a depth of over 400 feet.
3. San Francisco Carousel
"May We Go Round San Fran"
The two level San Francisco Carousel was handcrafted in Italy, features 1,800 LED lights and painted scenes of famous landmarks around the city.
"We pack for Travel"
Being the first sit down restaurant on the wharf, Fishermen's Grotto opened in 1935. Four generations of the Geraldi family have been serving fresh Italian style seafood to visitors at Fisherman's Wharf. No 9 represents the stall number it was first located in, and remains today.
"From Prostitutes to Handbags"
Now showcasing some of the most luxurious store fronts, Maiden Lane was the brothel hotspot in the late 1800's. Hitting a low point in 1896 the police started cleaning up the area and the brothels and prostitutes went elsewhere.
In the 1906 earthquake this two block area was reduced to rubble and rebuilt to resemble the streets of London and New York.
If you are looking to get some luxury shopping in you can now find Hermes, Chanel, Theory and many more.
"Under Artistic Umbrellas"
This square now surrounded by great shopping got its name because it was once used for rallies in support of the Union Army during the Civil War.
4 sculptures from Hearts in San Francisco are placed in the corners. Besides the public art there are great art galleries within walking distance.
Scenes from The Birds and Vertigo were filmed here among others.
In the residential area Billionaires Row or the Gold Coast it's been nicknamed you can find this beautiful view. There are actually 332 steps. I did not venture down all the way but plenty of people were enjoying a little exercise while they took in the stunning view.
"Chocolate in Lights"
Domenico Ghirardelli came to San Francisco during the gold rush years. This coffee and chocolate merchant originally born in Italy, opened a general store in Stockton selling spices and goods to locals. For decades Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory was operating four different sites for chocolate production. The now Historic Ghirardelli Square was once Pioneer Woolen Mills, purchased by Domenico Ghirardelli in 1893.
The illuminated Ghirardelli light bulb sign was created in 1923 and is visible for miles. Stop by and have a sundae or take home some chocolate :)
Transported into China taking in the sounds, vibe and culture. Chinatown in San Francisco is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest found in North America.
Stop by Li Po Cocktail Lounge and grab a Mai Tai. Sometimes you need a break with all these good vibrant photo opportunities.
10. Conservatory of Flowers- Golden Gate State Park
"Fall in full Bloom"
Omg. There is so much to do in Golden Gate State Park you could spend days there. Can't wait to pick a museum and enjoy a day in the park soon.
Conservatory of Flowers the oldest building in Golden Gate Park, opened to the public in 1879.
Looks like it is free the first Tuesday of every month.
After I turned from looking at the beautiful flowers and historic building I saw this perfectly lit image. Subtle and almost telling a story this was my favorite picture of the trip. Just seeing beauty illuminated through a dark tunnel.
Sometimes you have to take a moment, look and take in everything, not just the perfectly aligned flowers.