Whether you’re planning your first solo trip ever, or you’ve already fallen madly in love with the idea through experience, this city sure makes for an excellent choice for a one-person adventure!
The city is minuscule in size compared to the likes of New York, while the slightly slower pace of life and the cool coastal culture are more than enough to give you plenty of Zen to make your stay as rich and diverse as possible – but without the pressure of rush or haste of its fellow US cities.
After all, its sunny reputation precedes it, and for a solo adventurer at heart, there are a slew of wonderful things to see, taste, and experience!
8 Must Have Experiences in San Francisco for Solo Travel
1. Take the stairs
What other cities take for granted, San Francisco turns into a humble masterpiece. You’ve probably already heard of the many staircases found across the city that are intricately decorated, and many a social media account is brimming with photos of these simple, yet wonderful works of art.
You can make it your own treasure hunt, and alongside the ones you’ve seen online, you’ll likely come across a whole range of other steps that will be Insta-worthy.
The title of the most famous San Francisco stairs belongs to a stunning mosaic located on Moraga that was created by 300 people living in the neighbourhood, as a contribution to their community. Finished in 2005, they have garnered worldwide fame since, and drawn more attention to their equally quirky staircase siblings all over town.
2. Explore pier 39
Yet another bit of evidence showing the level of harmony present in San Francisco is this locally adored nook that is the personification of cuteness.
Animal lovers, brace yourselves for laughing out loud as you watch a fleet of sea lions basking in the sun, rolling around, and arguing with their neighbor’s bum for taking too much sunny space. And once again, you can find an interesting set of stairs in the are called the musical stairs, so prep for another round of fun.
The entire bay is a wonderful, though touristy area where you can find tons of different ways to spend your day. From tasting some of their sumptuous food at nearby restaurants, gazing at Alcatraz in the distance, all the way to a trip to the Aquarium that will give you a much deeper insight into the local marine life.
3. Take a hike
If you feel the desire to get away from the bustling streets in the city, you might be surprised to discover that this relaxed Californian city also hides quite a few natural gems worth a visit. Yet, even though you’ll be far from the noise, you’ll still feel at ease due to the presence of other eager hikers, families picnicking, and dog walkers passing by.
A great example is Mount Sutro, nestled in the very heart of San Francisco, an 80-acre forest with impressive hiking trails that allows you to get immersed in bird song, refreshing tree scents, and if you’re lucky, you can observe the fog creating a fairy-tale-like hideout.
4. Stroll in the Golden Gate Park
Often seen as the top pick for many travelers who visit the city, this vast streak of lush greenery is the perfect blend of city spirit and untamed Mother Nature. You might be traveling on your own, but there will not be a single dull moment spent in this little slice of paradise, which is significantly larger than New York’s Central Park, and brimming with fun opportunities.
If you have the time, enjoy your lunch break on the shores of Stow Lake, head to the woodland part of the park, and don’t miss out on the Japanese Tea Garden, the oldest of its kind in the US.
5. Visit Alcatraz
What would a visit to SF be if you didn’t take a moment to go to the island of Alcatraz, home to the famous former prison, where you can enjoy an extraordinary history lesson?
Not too long ago, this little off-shore facility imprisoned the likes of Al Capone, as well as others notorious criminals. Yes, there’s even a night tour for the bravest souls who like to add a dash of Halloween to their travels.
Take a cruise from Pier 33 all the way to the island and make sure you book your tour, because you can expect other tourists headed in the same direction, as well!
6. Enjoy a foodie frenzy
With a hipster soul and access to a rich and versatile menu, San Francisco is every foodie’s dream come true when it comes to locating the next favourite latte place, or a seafood plate you’ll be craving for weeks after you leave. Lovers of fine dining, brunch enthusiasts, and those who prefer low-key options will all find their place in the city’s renowned Mission District.
There you’ll find a slew of bakeries with pastry to match the best Parisian artisan food, while those who’d like a glimpse at the more prestigious spots can book a few weeks ahead at Al’s Place – a perfectly humble, but loved restaurant among locals and tourists alike.
7. Immerse yourself in art
As a true tourist and most likely an art aficionado, you’ll find yourself completely bewitched by the wide range of SF’s amazing museums.
Among many classical galleries you’ll come across, Exploratorium stands out as one of those rarities in the world of art – this is where art comes to life with the help of interactive exhibitions, which is precisely why it’s known as “the exploration of science, art and human perception”.
If you find yourself with some free time on your hands while you’re exploring the Golden Gate Park, you can head straight for de Young Museum, where you can enjoy a wonderful collection of pieces from all over the globe!
8. Get hippie
The perks of solo travel are many, but one of the main ones is that you can make yourself at home wherever you go, as soon as you join in the culture and the pace of the place you visit.
Take San Francisco and its many touristy destinations, and then dive into their own lifestyle that is relaxed, nature-loving, and so much slower than other metropolises.
To get this grooved, do not leave the city without taking the famous cable car ride, and you’ll be able to do so blending in with the locals! Also, make sure you rent a bike to spend some time soaking in the streets the way the locals do.
And finally, don’t miss out on local events, such as the the famous Stern Grove Festival, free of charge, mingling with people from the entire world, and enjoying some world-class concerts.
Marie Nieves is a lifestyle blogger who loves unusual trips, gadgets and creative ideas. On her travels she likes to read poetry and prose and surf the Internet. Her favourite writer is Tracy Chevalier and she always carries one of her books in her bag. She spends most of her free time at home walking her Labrador Retriever named Max. She is an avid lover of photography and a regular author at High Style Life. You can find Marie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.