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24 Hours in San Francisco

Oh, the Golden Gate. That red bridge that we see in so many movies — the one that reminds us of beautiful San Francisco, houses on a hill, and sunny days with foggy skylines. San Francisco is a dynamic city, one with a lot of life and energy, and so much more than its iconic bridge. In fact, if you’ve only got a day for San Francisco, try these other sites for a better taste of San Francisco culture.

Visit Castro

Castro is a small neighborhood in San Francisco that reminds us of how different we are as humans. It was the traditional gay village, an historical place where all the struggle for LGBTI rights is visible, in monuments and, well, in everyday life. People visit Castro for a stroll, and to have coffee in one of the many LGBT-owned businesses like Spike’s Coffee and Tea or Philz Coffee. The streets have plaques telling, for example, the story of the amazing legacy of gay activist Harvey Milk. There are other monuments, like a small garden with triangle sculptures commemorating the gay lives lost during World War II. Castro is colorful; the sidewalks are lined with rainbow flags everywhere, including those painted on the street crossings. Some gay bars, shops, beauty parlors, and fancy restaurants are a great reason to explore the area but mostly, a reason to shop and live politically, especially in these times.

City Lights Bookstore

Located in 261 Columbus Avenue, City Lights is a travel through time. You can wonder how the masters of the beat generation, who wandered in this very same place, where transforming both urban culture and our literary traditions by challenging and transgressing our culture in every possible way. The second floor of the bookstore houses the best works of the beat authors like Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. The collection offers a lot of other works, both fiction and non-fiction, and many great LGBT books and queer literature is found in the basement. The bookstore is also conveniently located between North Beach (a sort of Little Italy) in San Francisco and the local Chinatown. This is what diversity is about.

San Francisco MoMa

This San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a great place to spend a few hours exploring the most talented artists from around the globe. For $25, you can see sculptures from Alexander Calder, paintings from Andy Warhol, and many photographic works. You’ll need at least three hours to explore the seven floors; be sure to take a pause in the café for a quality coffee. The MoMa also has a terrace that gives you a nice view of the buildings in downtown SF. After or before your visit, you can stroll around Yerba Buena Gardens, a small park with a fountain and a memorial dedicated to Martin Luther King.

Pier 39

One of the most interesting natural attractions is the presence of seals in the famous Pier 39. The area is a harbor with restaurants, cafés, souvenir shops, and many, many tourists. The seals come here during their migration, and people visit with inquisitive eyes and cameras. It’s surprisingly cathartic to observe the seals from the pier, watching how they play, fight, or bark. Another great reason to visit Pier 39 is that you can actually see both the Golden Gate Bridge (in the distance) and the tenebrous Alcatraz Island prison.


Mission Street

For me, Mission Street is a synonym for burritos. If you follow this street for a while, you’ll see all the different parts of San Francisco, its culture, and its diversity. You can find stores that sell secondhand clothes and weird souvenirs, or hipster coffee shops and Mexican restaurants. Mission Street is also great for exploring the architectural style of San Francisco and to spot some of its amazing street art. If you want to deviate in your tour, you can visit the small but oh-so-pretty Dolores Park, with a great view of the San Francisco skyline.

It doesn’t take long to fall in love with San Francisco. It’s the trolleys in the street, the amazing street food and restaurants, the diverse and relaxed style of the locals. After all, this is one of the most liberal spots of the United States, a place with strong laws for equality and respect for all. How can you say no to that?

Have you ever been to San Francisco? If so, what’d you think? Any suggestions for things to see and do in the city? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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