Best ways to experience San Francisco

Best ways to experience San Francisco, looking at the Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco is perhaps the most famous city in the world. There’s so much to see and do in the so-called City by the Bay that you might have no idea how to go about it. There are so many ways to experience San Francisco, after all, more than one can count.

And that kind of paralysis by analysis can – and will – ruin your time in this wonderful place. You’ll be stressed out without doing anything fun, and you’ll be going back home with sour memories. If you worry about this happening to you, fear not! This handy guide will show you all the best ways to enjoy San Francisco.

That said, you might not be a tourist sticking around for a short while. Maybe you’re moving to San Francisco from another city, and you’ll have all the time in the world to soak in the sights. If so, you’ll still want to read on. This city has so much going on that, eventually, it doesn’t become a matter of what you see, but how you see it.

So let’s get started.

Create a streamlined itinerary for sight-seeing in a hurry

Every trip has its complications, and these problems usually cost you time otherwise spent taking in your location. Whether it’s lost items or broken bags, it all eats up the hours. This is pretty much a constant truth, so you ought to prepare for it whenever you travel.

You can fix most of these problems – keep track of your things, have a quality traveling bag, and so on. However, you can’t take back lost time. In case you’re pressed for time, it’s a great idea to have a quick-and-dirty itinerary on hand for emergencies. The best way to make one is to write down everything you would love to see.

Poke around on the Internet to approximate how much time it would roughly take to visit each of those places. Put the ones that require a lot of time in a to-dump list. For extra effectiveness, see which sights are near one another and cluster them in a single day’s worth of sightseeing. Try separating some time for things like buying special gifts and souvenirs for your close ones, if possible.

Woman writing on notebook
Write down your top destinations that you have time for

This means you’ll, sadly, have to miss out on some experiences. For instance, visiting Alcatraz is basically a day-long process, from the ferry rides to the tour itself. And that’s if you call ahead to book a spot on this tour – doing it impromptu is even more complicated.  If you’re dead set on seeing Alcatraz, maybe consider taking an evening tour instead. You’ll still experience San Francisco, but you may need to make a few sacrifices.

Ride/rent out bikes to experience San Francisco healthily

There’s nothing quite like riding a bike in SF on a sunny spring day. Not only is it a healthy alternative to driving or taking the bus/trolly, but it also saves you loads of time otherwise spent walking. You have the speed of a vehicle tour combined with the autonomy to go and stop wherever you like. As long as you’ve brought your essentials for traveling, you’ll be enjoying the best of both worlds.

If you don’t have your own bike to ride, don’t worry. Being such a large city and tourist attraction, San Francisco has its fair share of bike renting agencies. They’re very professional for the most part: they provide well-functioning bikes, helmets, and escorts that know the city well. San Francisco sights are a delight to marvel at this way, believe me.

San Francsico cable car
Cable care are neat, but bikes are healthier

Categorize types of activities

It’s an understatement to say that this city is packed with things to do. You definitely won’t get too far trying to pack everything into your schedule. To properly experience San Francisco, you need to organize your sight-seeing by categories.

What does that mean? Well, if you’re a bit of a gourmand, you can research great places to eat in San Francisco. Or, if you’re more of a nightlife kind of person, look up the best clubs. You can classify these into neat categories that let you quickly organize your day to your liking.

Not sure what this is all about? Don’t worry, you’ll see below.

Awesome bars and restaurants in San Francisco

Here’s an example of a list of what to see in San Francisco. It’s about great places for eating and drinking (with an emphasis on cheesy goodies).

–           Hog Island Oyster Company: great oysters, grilled cheese;

–           Daily Driver: organic bagels, cream cheese;

–           Cowgirl Creamery: European-style cheese;

–           Gott’s Roadside: burgers and milkshake;

–           Vive La Tarte: “tacros” (taco-croissants);

–           Slanted Door: whiskey cocktails, Vietnamese fare;

–           Humphry Slocombe: fun, strange ice cream flavors

–           Fort Point Beer Company: local beer

Experience San Francisco at night
The nightlife in San Francisco is indescribable

This kind of organization is especially useful for tourists that visit San Francisco. It allows them to see the best of San Francisco by preparing ahead of time. See the best sights, get some quality wine and dine in there, and include other activities you wouldn’t normally have time for.

Meet the locals

Wherever you’re staying, one fact rings true: the locals know the place best. This applies whether you’re a tourist or you’ve recently moved to SF. People that have been living there their whole lives tend to know exactly where to go to get the authentic experience. That’s why you should try to make a few “native“ friends while there that can show you cool things to do in San Francisco.

Not only that, but the locals can teach you how to save money while in the city (though not every local is that way). San Francisco isn’t exactly the cheapest of cities, and your cash can quickly fizzle out if you aren’t careful.

Since SF is such a tourist hotspot, the locals there are quite used to new people from other places. That makes them very friendly in general, so don’t worry about annoying them with your attempts to make a connection. And even if they do get peeved, there are tons of people in SF, so you’ll find someone else to show you the best ways to see San Francisco.

Wrapup

San Francisco is a big slice of wonder – much more than anyone can handle at once. Luckily, this guide will let you take out one strategic bite at a time. And that’s one of the best ways to experience San Francisco. Savor it like the splendid treat that it is.

Best Places in California for a Winter Getaway

If you don’t like winter, it’s definitely a good idea to travel somewhere warm and nice. And as the rest of the country is mostly covered with snow in winter months – California seems like a perfect getaway option. Warm temperatures, empty beaches and not busy tourist spots make this place even more amazing to visit. That’s why you should pack your bags – we’re taking you to California. Here are the best places in California for a winter getaway, and you try to choose the best one for you and your family.

Winter in San Diego

When it comes to the best places in California for a winter getaway, San Diego comes as the first and one of the most popular options. Being a popular tourist spot in the spring and summer months, San Diego is a great getaway place in winter since it’s not as busy and crowded. You can visit the beaches and watch whales on a perfect sunny December day and have the time of your life. December is also the month of holidays, and in San Diego, you can experience a true Christmas spirit. Festivals, festive lighting and decoration, and many other attractions will make this winter perfect.

San Diego as one of the best places in California for a winter getaway

Lake Tahoe

Even though it’s a very different location from the previous one, Lake Tahoe is also one of the best places in California for a winter getaway. This time, we’re talking about some of the best ski spots in the area – luxurious resorts for both beginners and experienced skiers. So, if you’re looking for an idyllic, snowy winter experience, Lake Tahoe can offer everything you need.

a woman standing close to Lake Tahoe

Bonus tip: If you are not looking for a place to do winter sports, check out all the places you can visit in Lake Tahoe if you’re not skiing – and there are many of them.

Death Valley

A complete opposite to Lake Tahoe – Death Valley is a hot place most of the people won’t visit during summer. But in winter, this can be an amazing winter getaway, with temperatures finally dropping at around 73° F. However, don’t forget to plan this trip in advance, since it can be pretty busy during winter months.

Disneyland

Yes, the most popular place in California can be truly enjoyed during winter months. The reason why it’s one of the best places in California for a winter getaway is that you can finally enjoy it without having to wait hours in line. The crowds are much smaller after the holidays, so you can really have fun and plan your Disneyland day just the way you want it.

Pasadena

New Year’s Day in Pasadena can be truly something spectacular. You can watch the Pasadena Rose Parade which is a true spectacle but also join some other activities related to the event. Again, be sure to book your trip months/weeks in advance, since this is a very popular event and many people rush to Pasadena for the New Year holiday.

Mammoth Mountain and Yosemite

Another amazing place to spend a true winter day skiing and enjoying the sun. What’s also great about it is the proximity to the Yosemite National park. You can make a trip and visit both of the locations when coming here. You can easily reach it by Mammoth Yosemite airport, which is great if you don’t live in California.

Yosemite in winter as one of the best places in California for a winter getaway

Christmas in Orange County is the best

Winter is all about the holidays, and one of the best places in California for a winter getaway and also a perfect Christmas location is definitely Orange County and Newport Beach. Here you can see an amazing Christmas Parade, decorated yachts and houses, etc. Sink into the festive spirit and enjoy your amazing winter getaway!

Palm Springs

Running away from any sign of winter and cold can really happen in Palm Springs. Here, December is the coldest month with over 68°F – can you imagine spending your winter holiday in a t-shirt? In Palm Springs, there’s a lot to do, even in winter – visit the zoo, go hiking, ride a bike, go around the city to see local arts and architecture, etc. Palm Springs is one of the best places to visit in California during winter for a good reason!

General California getaway tips

Whatever the location(s) you choose, you need to get ready for your trip. If you’re well-prepared, you will enjoy California even more. Don’t be surprised if you fall in love with some of the places from the list and decide to move here. Many people experience the same thing. In that case, relocation will not be a problem – you can move to any part of California with ease. Choosing a local moving company will make everything smooth and fast.

And now, let’s go back to the getaway preparations. Depending on where you’re coming from, and who you’re traveling with, your preparations will be more or less complicated. However, make sure you don’t forget these things:

  • do some research on the place you’re visiting –  check all the attractions and places you want to see and get the tickets in advance.
  • book accommodation beforehand – check the hotels or other accommodations you want to stay in and book your rooms in advance. Even though you’re visiting in winter, some California locations can be very busy.
  • check the weather forecast and pack accordingly – since you’ll be traveling in winter, make sure you check the weather forecast a couple of days in advance. This will help you pack properly and be ready for your trip.
  • check your cellphone plan or put your phone on airplane mode
  • book a day or two more – you’ll probably want to stay longer.

It can be very difficult to choose only one out of the many best places in California for a winter getaway. That’s why you should definitely expect coming back again since California gives the best winter holidays! Enjoy!

A little snow in the California desert

Author’s bio:

Jeffrey Wilson is a book lover who really enjoys traveling. That’s why he uses his experience to write blog posts related to travel organization and destinations. His big passion is nature photography.

Photos used:

https://pixabay.com/photos/san-diego-skyline-night-evening-4353504/

https://pixabay.com/photos/yosemite-national-park-california-1936632/

https://pixabay.com/photos/tahoe-lake-winter-girl-sport-2110056/

https://pixabay.com/photos/landscape-scenic-winter-snow-1902042/

The Best Airports for Long (Unexpectedly Fun) Layovers

It’s not often you hear someone rave about his or her time at the airport. More often than not our layover is spent on our phones scrolling through emails or texts (or let’s be honest, Tinder) while trying not to overhear the conversation of the person next to us at the gate. But there is good news for all travelers expecting a longer airport wait this year: It turns out there is a lot of fun to be had when waiting for the next flight. We are talking everything from massages to jumping into in a rooftop pool. With fun in mind, we’ve put together the list of the airports taking the layover experience to the next level.

 1. Changi Airport – Singapore

Changi won the World’s Best Airport Award (voted on by travelers) in 2015, and when it comes to spending time during a layover, this airport certainly does not disappoint. What better way to pass the time than a dip in the airport’s rooftop swimming pool? Or take in a film at their movie theater. There is also a butterfly garden, orchid garden, and sunflower garden that boasts a field of more than 500 sunflowers. Changi is also home to the world’s tallest slide in an airport at nearly 40 feet tall. The Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Hotel also has a swimming pool and 24-hour fitness center for those looking to spend the night near the airport. In addition to a plethora of shopping and dining locations, Changi’s unique airport features make it stand out as a luxurious and entertaining spot for long layovers.

2. John F. Kennedy Airport – Terminal 5, New York, NY

Of all the terminals at JFK, Jet Blue’s Terminal 5 is the one you want to spend your layover in. With more than 30 food and beverage spots, you can find just about anything to nibble and sip on. That includes places like Deep Blue Sushi, Dylan’s Candy Bar, and Bar Veloce. The terminal hosts more than 35 retail shops. If sitting down and relaxing is more your style, people watch on the Grandstands while you charge your phone and use the terminal’s free Wi-Fi.  The Marketplace at T5 also hosts concerts with musicians from all over the world, including Taylor Swift, James Blunt and Robyn. Travelers can step out of the airport and over to the Crowne Plaza JFK Airport Hotel to ensure a solid night’s sleep during an overnight layover. Their complimentary shuttle bus will get you right back to the airport in time for your flight.

3. Heathrow Airport – London, United Kingdom

This bustling airport caters to an exceptionally diverse crowd, and the range of shops, restaurants and entertainment options reflects just that. The airport has two spas that offer services ranging from manicures and pedicures to aromatherapy and facials. The No1 Travel Spa offers a jet lag revival package for those who need to recuperate from exceptionally long trips. The iconic shopping destination Harrod’s of London has shops located in each terminal, and personal shoppers are available by appointment to provide fashion and style advice. Restaurants and cafes regularly host events all year round, including special activities and menus for Chinese New Year, like complimentary 2016 Chinese Horoscope cards and special dishes like Hoisin Duck Puffs from Rhubarb British Restaurant and Bar. Travelers can step out of the airport and head to nearby Sofitel London Heathrow for afternoon tea at the hotel’s tea salon or check email at one of their workspaces.

4. Vancouver International Airport – British Columbia, Canada

Voted by travelers as the Best Airport in North America, YVR is not short on entertainment and services to help you spend your time in between flights. The airport has a Meet and Great Service that provides travelers with an Airport Butler who can customize your experience, from getting you to your gate to helping you with the purchase of duty-free items and spa services. The Absolute Spa and Hair Salon can handle all grooming needs, from hair styling and removal to massages. There is a diverse selection of international fare, from sit down restaurants and bars to fast food chains. Less than three miles away is the Radisson Hotel Vancouver Airport where those with longer or overnight layovers can relax in the indoor pool and spa tub, grab food at one of many fine-dining establishments and easily hop back to the airport with complimentary on-demand shuttle service that operates around the clock.

5. Denver International Airport– Denver, CO

Denver’s airport stands apart with its appealing architectural style, complete with a vast collection of public art, more than 140 shops and restaurants, and relaxing lounges. The airport offers free Wi-Fi, but many travelers find themselves putting down their phones to stare at the gorgeous views of the Rocky Mountains near gates C23 and C24. Denver is also home to Paradise 4 Paws, 9http://www.flydenver.com/traveler_services/pets) an on-site pet resort. Dog suites have their own flat screen TV’s and massage therapy and veterinary services are also available. Cats won’t feel left out either with their own bungalow and Adventure Jungle. Who said layovers can’t be fun for pets too?

6. San Francisco International Airport – San Francisco, CA

San Francisco airport is a tech-lovers layover dream. The #Converge@flySFO loungeis a unique space inside the airport created specifically for travelers to share ideas around technology, entrepreneurship and ways to create change (among many topics). The room has free Wi-Fi, white boards to write down ideas and places to charge electronics. For less business-minded guests, the airport also houses theAviation Museum and Library, the Berman Reflection Room for quiet meditation, XpresSpa’s for spa services and a free yoga room. Travelers and their pets with longer layovers are welcome at the Aloft San Francisco Airport Hotel located just two miles from the airport. Guests can enjoy stretching their legs on the scenic jogging trail or taking a dip in the hotel pool before grabbing a bite to eat and heading back to their airport to catch their next flight.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on March 11, 2016.