A Day In San Francisco – Driving, Walking, & Cable Cars, Day 87

After such a wonderful evening spent at Bottega Napa Valley last night, we decided that today we would put everything else aside and spend the day in San Francisco.

Although the weather has been on the rainy side, we knew that we could dedicate an entire day of our trip to experience the sights, sounds, and taste of one of the cities in the Bay Area.

And what better city to choose than San Francisco.

san francisco landscape
The view of San Francisco from the end of Pier 39.

There are so many things to see and do in this iconic city. But to avoid sitting in traffic and wasting precious time, we waited until the morning rush hour was over to head back to Highway 101.

This was a little longer route from where our camper was stationed in American Canyon. GPS wanted to take us through Oakland, however, I knew that we wanted to actually drive over the Golden Gate Bridge as we entered the San Francisco area.

Golden Gate Bridge

Once we finally got to the bridge, we realized there was a toll road to drive over the bridge. We didn’t care – this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

golden gate bridge
On our way to San Francisco we made sure we were able to take the route that lead us over the Golden Gate Bridge.

But it wasn’t like every other toll where you give money to an attendant or put money in a machine. There were HUGE signs in the toll booth area warning you not to stop at the unmanned toll booths.

I am guessing that they just mail everyone that doesn’t have a Toll Pass a ticket for the fee. I guess we will just have to wait and see!

So we passed over the bridge and continued straight down 101. Once you get into the city the highway turns into Lombard street. This is where you can find the crookedest street in the world.

Lombard street
We even drove the truck down Lombard Street – “The Crookedest Street In The World”

We braved the winding and narrow streets and took the truck down the steep, one block road.

Although it was tight, we successfully navigated down the incline to the bottom of the brick street.

Since that was the last part of San Francisco that we wanted to drive over and down, we headed straight to Fisherman’s Wharf.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Our directions took us right to the main pier where the parking was $65 per day. We decided that since it was the off-season that we would look for more reasonable parking.

Fisherman's Wharf
You can find plenty of food at Fisherman’s Wharf. From seafood, fresh toasted nuts, and donuts, there is something for everyone!

And that brought us to one block west of the wharf where we found ample parking for less than half of the price for the full day.

We walked to the Navy pier and around Fisherman’s wharf for awhile taking in the sights of all the restaurants and shops.

There are several piers in the area, but one of the most popular ones is Pier 39.

San Francisco Sea Lions
I could watch and listen to the Sea Lions all day long!

Here is the home to not only popular restaurants, but to the Sea Lion docks. They are extremely entertaining to watch. And even though we enjoyed their constant barking sounds, I am sure that it gets quite annoying for the employees that work in the area.

And if you look in the distance while standing on Pier 39 you can see Alcatraz Island. Although it is no longer an active prison, it was once home to some of the most dangerous inmates.

Although, we decided not to take the 3 hour tour to the island. We figured that we only had one day to explore San Francisco and we didn’t want to miss out on other opportunities on our limited visit.

Alcatraz Island
A view of Alcatraz Island from Pier 39.

However, Mary did have the opportunity to take the night tour many years ago.

So instead, we decided to make better use of our time and hop on the Cable Cars to experience more of the city.

The San Francisco Cable Cars

We bought a public transportation day pass and began our journey traveling the streets of San Francisco.

We had no idea where we were headed, or what we were going to see. But we absolutely enjoyed the fact that we were finally on the historic cable cars.

San Francisco Cable Car
Another bucket list item marked off Jim’s list – riding on the San Francisco cable cars.

Our first stop took us to Chinatown. It was well past lunch time and both of us were hungry.


Being fans of Asian cuisine, we decided to find an authentic Chinese restaurant for lunch. Which of course, was easy to do.

Although we couldn’t read the words on the street signs, we decided that we would head to a restaurant that was filled with patrons.

So we ended up at a restaurant that was full and even had short waiting list. This was a great indication to us that the food must be good.

Once it was time to order, we were both a little uneasy. We had a limited knowledge of the menu, and as you can imagine, many of the menu items were out of our comfort zone.

San Francisco Chinatown
We walked and walked the streets of Chinatown to find the perfect, authentic restaurant.

Ordering Lunch

But we finally decided on Hot and Sour soup and Szechuan chicken. We both love hot and spicy food and we have had Szechuan chicken and rice many times before.

But when our meal showed up, we were a little puzzled. The soup looked amazing. However, the chicken looked like large bites of poached chicken with the skin and bone still attached. And there was no rice.

After we got over the looks of the dish, we decided to take a bite. Within one second of putting the chicken in my mouth, I literally was in shock.

My mouth was full, yet I was trying to tell Jim, before he took a bite, that the chicken pieces were cold. And not in a lukewarm way. The chicken dish was served as a cold meal – absolutely no warmth to it at all.

Although we were in complete shock we decided that “When in Rome”…

So we continued to eat as much of the dish as we could handle. Once we left the restaurant we both decided to chalk this adventure up to one that we would never forget!

The Streets of San Francisco

After our lunch experience we decided to continue to explore the less popular streets of San Francisco.

We walked mile after mile as we looked at the row houses that were built on steep inclines.

Every street was lined with parallel parked cars with their tires turned toward the curb. The every day scenery was beautiful in it’s own sense.

But as we passed down the streets of San Francisco we found even more treasures. There were several magnificent structures among us including this beautiful cathedral.

St. Dominic’s Catholic Church

St. Dominic's Cathedral
In between the many row houses, there are beautiful churches everywhere, including St. Dominic’s Catholic Church.

St. Dominic’s Catholic Church sat in the middle of a neighborhood and the doors were open as we passed by.

We took the rare opportunity to take a peak inside and it was absolutely breath taking.

The history and architecture that encompassed this building was incredible. And to see it still standing today and that the doors remained opened to the public was unbelievable.

After a brief visit indoors, we continued walking around town pointing out to each other every amazing house and building that we could see.

Then we came across a familiar looking house. Our kids grew up in the era that the television show Full House aired almost daily as reruns.

We had to watch show after show, and this is the house where the family lived, at least in t.v. terms.

'Full House' House
After a long walk down, we finally found the house that was featured in the television show Full House.

So as good tourists do, we took our obligatory picture and shared it with our family. Yes, we are true tourists sometimes!

So we finished our time spent in San Francisco picking out our California Christmas ornament and post cards and called it a wonderful day!

Happy Traveling – Jim and Mary


  • Day 87 of 365
  • States : 11 / 50
  • National Parks / Monuments : 11
  • Stayed In : American Canyon, California
  • Miles Driven : 76.9
  • Total Trip Miles To Date : 8850.3
  • Total Gallons Used : 660.47
  • Biking Miles : 0.0
  • Biking Miles To Date : 142.5
  • Hiking Miles : 6.2
  • Hiking Miles To Date : 189.5

About Our Living Simple Tour

On September 9th, 2019, we set out in our NuCamp T@B 400 Teardrop Camper to travel to every state. You can check out all of our dates here : Dates for the States

Follow along by signing up for our twice weekly email updates at the bottom of the page. You can also follow us on Facebook : Live Simple Tour Facebook and Instagram : Live Simple Now Instagram Page.

6 thoughts on “A Day In San Francisco – Driving, Walking, & Cable Cars, Day 87

  • December 7, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    I am so enjoying your travels. I hope that you make it to Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur. If you do I suggest you have our favorite clam chowder from the “Old Fisherman’s Grotto” on the warf in Monterey. There is so much to do in this area. But my favorite place on Earth is Big Sur. There are RV camp grounds and the State Park (Pfieffer Big Sur). There is hiking and a visit to the beach is a must. Further down highway 1 is the Juilia Pfieffer Burns park. Once there take a short hike to see the McWay Falls. I recommend to places to dine first is Deetjin’s Restaurant and the other is Nepenthe’s. The view at Nepenthe’s is awesome and so is their ambrosia burger. Happy Travels

    • December 8, 2019 at 11:45 am

      Thank you Jane for your suggestions. Unfortunately, we won’t make to Monterey or Big Sur. However, we plan to come back and visit again after our trip is over. It sounds gorgeous! Jim and Mary

  • December 8, 2019 at 9:01 am

    I love your posts. Makes us want to head out right now….but we need to wait for better weather. I love that you are keeping track of miles and parks/monuments and such, but I’m wondering if you are also keeping track of finances. Have you set a goal for each day; each month; the entire trip? Just curious! Also, how do you get your mail when on the road? Again, Just curious. If, all of these questions are too personal, I understand completely! Thanks! Safe travels! Lisa

    • December 8, 2019 at 11:43 am

      Hi Lisa Thanks for your comment. We do keep track of finances – and have a budget set for each month. We keep track of how much gas money we spend as well. As for the mail, USPS has a program where they send you picture of what mail you will be receiving that day. Then we have a family member open whatever we feel necessary and recycle the rest. Hope that helps! Mary and Jim

  • December 15, 2019 at 10:32 am

    Hi Mary and Jim,
    I am so glad you had a wonderful time in SF. I moved from StL to the Bay Area over 26 years ago. StL will always be home, but SF is interesting, many parts wonderful, and always an adventure. When I take my dogs to boarding, I head from San Mateo (near the airport) to Petaluma (in Sonoma County). A quaint town and the pups enjoy boarding on a former dairy farm. In doing this, I get to see the GG Bridge, which is a marvel. As I noted in my comment re: your Yosemite trip, I am catching up on your travels – you are making great progress and I love that you are still enjoying life on the road. My husband and I are hoping to do a similar trip when we retire. For now, we take side trips to the Gulf Coast, and So Carolina Coast to see family, and this past October, we headed to Fall Colors in NH – spectacular, and the Cape, and a visit with a former coworker. All I can say is that we are blessed with living in the US – its a beautiful place. Continued safe travels and wonderful adventures.

    • December 19, 2019 at 9:44 am

      We did love SF!!! And we can’t wait to see NH – as neither of us have been there. Thanks for following our journey!


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