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 experience 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 San Fran 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 rental 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.

Time for a Trip to LA? Here’s Your Guide

Planning your Trip to Los Angeles

If you’ve been to the typical vacation spots – it’s time for a trip to LA. Los Angeles, California will give you a bit of everything you can want or need in a vacation – sights, beach, activities, food and more!

Plan your Trip to LA

A trip to LA gives you the chance to explore neighboring cities in southern California. Long Beach, Anaheim, Malibu, Santa Monica are all nearby and each have things to do. As a major city known for entertainment, LA always has a raft of upcoming events- special events, game, concert or a festival. The chance to see a great show or band may help you settle on your travel dates.

LAX (Los Angeles Airport) is a very busy airport with lots of airline and flight choices so booking your flight is easy. While you could try getting around the LA area on public transit (subway, light rail or bus), taxi or Uber, it’s a lot easier to rent a car. Traffic in the LA area can be challenging and very busy so allowing extra travel time for traffic is a necessity.

With hundreds of Los Angeles area hotels, there’s no shortage of places to stay. Think of your hotel as your “home base” because your LA and area vacation will have you taking day trips in and around LA. For example, Disneyland is in Anaheim (southeast from LA); the Queen Mary ship is in Long Beach (south from LA). Santa Barbara is northwest from LA; Newport Beach is southeast from LA.

Where to Stay in LA

While you can, of course, stay anywhere you want in LA, there are some distinct areas to consider: Hollywood/Beverly Hills (movie history, studios, walk of fame, high-end shopping); Santa Monica/Malibu (beach, pier, dining, outdoors); Downtown LA (events, dining, nightlife) and Venice Beach (people-watching, boardwalk, boutique shops) among others. It’s a pretty good idea to figure out what you want to do and see (including distance, traffic and total time to get there) before you book your hotel.  Take a good look at the images, descriptions and reviews of Los Angeles hotels. There are hundreds of hotels to choose from based on our budget and preferences.

Photo by MarkTravel via Trover.com

Cool Things to see and do in LA

Los Angeles City Tour – To maximize your trip to LA, this is the way to go in one day. You’ll get the full LA experience including Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Walk of Fame and more.

Hollywood Experience Tour – Your top choice, the immersive Hollywood experience, is right here. You’ll see the Hollywood sign, landmarks, celebrity homes and cruise Hollywood Boulevard. Last up, Paramount Studios, a busy and unique working studio. The odds are you will see familiar actors on the lot, and you will definitely see movie sets and props.

Photo by MarkTravel via Trover.com

The Getty Center – The building itself is an architectural masterpiece containing some of the finest art in the world. Visitors rave, and many recommend a tour. A private tour will get you past the lines and provide expert insight into this spectacular collection.

La Brea Tar Pits Tour by Segway– The Tar Pits contain hot bubbling tar and have been in existence for 40,000 years. The neighboring Page Museum contains tar pits artifacts and one of the world’s largest collections of Ice Age fossils. It’s hard to believe that this is in Los Angeles. This is a really different and unique experience!

Sunset Strip Walking Tour – It’s 1.5 miles of quintessential LA on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. This stretch contains the Roxy Theatre, Whisky a Go Go, and the Comedy Store, plus shops, bars, and restaurants. This is the time to walk in LA and find out about the history of LA and the Sunset Strip!

With all there is to see and experience in Los Angeles, make your trip to LA a memorable one! Enjoy the California sunshine and plan your trip to see all that Los Angeles and area has to offer!

4 Tips For Skiing Over 50

This Post Was Originally Published on the Liftopia Blog on March 14, 2016 by Mark Crone; updated March 5, 2020

I started skiing at the age of 6 and I’m now well above 50. My first boots had laces; my skis had screw-in edges and ski straps; my poles had leather strap baskets. A lot has changed since then – and thankfully.

If you are well under 50, you may be thinking, “this has nothing to do with me,” but it will at some point. You will hit the magical age of 50.

If you are indeed over 50, the fork in the road may be “you do ski” or “you would like to ski”. Either way, read on. Here are my 4 tips for skiing over 50:

skiing over 50
Photo by Mati Mango on Pexels.com

1. Get Modern

Above, I described my first set of ski gear. When I’m at the hill, I still see people in purple ski suits (from the 70s), rear-entry boots and 200 cm. skis. Now “Throwback Thursdays” are one thing, but… modern ski clothing provides warmth, durability and weather resistance.

Ski technology makes skiing easier (if you are old enough, think “before parabolic skis”). Get into your local ski equipment shop and talk to an experienced professional. They’ll fit you for boots (literally) and set you up with the best pair of skis for you based on your ability, normal terrain and your budget.

2. Get Fit

Skiing is tough work and you need to be in some kind of “ski fit” condition to really enjoy yourself. I’ve talked about it in another post for Liftopia – “How To Get Ready For The First Day Of The Ski Season”.

As a Ski Patroller, and someone who is over 50, I ski all day. It’s a given that I’ll be tired the next day (as I am today) but you need to have enough stamina during the ski day to enjoy your time on the slopes (be it a half day, full day or ski vacation).

Skiing is great exercise and requires at least some strength and flexibility. As you get older, it gets much tougher to get up if you fall. But it’s tougher still to get up if you aren’t in shape.

3. Get Lessons

It’s never too late to learn to ski. Lessons are an absolute necessity if you are learning to ski at any age. A professional ski instructor will make learning to ski fun and help you to master the basics and stay safe. You’ll enjoy yourself and look forward to a good time on the slopes.

Even if you have skied for a while, or are coming back to skiing, a “tune up” lesson, clinic or program is a great way to re-start and improve your skills.

4. Get Out There

The “over 50” market is a big one and a growing one for the ski industry. Websites, equipment, clothing, lessons and more are all geared to “north of 50”. There are “over 50” ski clubs and groups (regular clubs, clubs for singles, seniors clubs) to ski in a group and socialize afterwards. There are “over 50” ski holidays offered by some ski clubs and ski tour operators. Liftopia has you covered for great deals on lift tickets when you buy in advance and if you are over 65, they have senior prices too. There are no excuses!

Above all…

Ski at your own pace and on the terrain that you feel most comfortable on. If you skied when you were young, the exhilarating mogul runs and double black diamonds may now be a thing of the past. But you can still have a great day of fresh winter air, physical exercise and great skiing. When you get tired, simply call it a day. Go back to the ski lodge, get a hot drink and sit by the fireplace to warm up. There’s always tomorrow…