Welcome to San Francisco!
Wake up each morning and look out into the shrouded fog that lines the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, Sales Force Tower and Transamerica Pyramid. When it’s not raining make sure to take a deep breath in and hop, skip, or run through Presidio Park, Dolores Park, and Golden Gate Park.
The weather is cool all year around and the mornings are often wet and foggy. Often times Golden Gate Bridge can not be seen in the late mornings/early evenings due to the rolling fog. August – October is the warmest time of the year with temperatures reaching 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). The heaviest rainfalls happen between the months of December – March. During these months there is about 3-5 inches of rainfall per month. Often times tourists pack shorts not realizing they should have packed pants.
Ohlones & Miwoks
Before the Spanish settlers arrived in 1776 to establish a military garrison, there were two major Native American groups that dominated San Francisco and the surrounding area. The first group called the Ohlones, broke off into 50 tribes and primarily lived in San Francisco all the way south to Monterey. Each tribe had a leader that was either a man or women. The second group called the Miwoks, broke off into 14 tribes and lived North of the Golden Gate Bridge, primarily in the Marin County and Southern Sonoma County.
The homes these tribes lived in what was made from slabs of redwood bark leaning together to create a cone shape hut. In the middle of each house was a fire pit to keep warm and to cook daily meals. Most of the homes didn’t last for more than a few years because they would weaken from the weather and the constant heat and smoke from the fire pits would weaken the wood. The largest homes could house up to 200 people.
Having the ocean and rivers nearby allowed them to have an abundance of food. Shellfish like mussels and abalone were eaten daily. Sea lions were hunted and when whales washed ashore they would remove parts of it and take it back to their home. Steelhead, salmon, sturgeon, and lamprey eels were caught using seine nets and fishing traps. The land provided lots of fruit like berries and grapes.
Both Native groups lived well up until the Spanish settlers arrived.
When the Spanish settlers arrived, life changed for the Ohlones and Miwoks. The Spanish settlers brought diseases, forced both tribes into labor, forced them into following their religion and indoctrinated the indigenous people into an alien society.
Take a walk through Presidio, Lands End, and Marin Headlands to learn more about the Ohlones and Miwoks.
The Sutro Baths, named after Adolph Sutro opened March 14, 1896. Adolph Sutro had a strong interest in the study of nature and marine wildlife. He constructed the Sutro baths to provide people a healthy and recreational swimming facility as well as an educational opportunity for San Franciscans. The baths could accommodate at least 10,000 people at any given time. Anyone who did not own a bathing suit and towel were able to rent them at the facility. As people walked into the entrance they were greeted with natural history exhibits. The baths were a booming hit until the great depression struck. When the great depression came along, the popularity of the baths rapidly decreased. Profits were being lost and the owners thought it would be a good idea to turn the baths into an ice skating rink. Profits never saw an increase and eventually the owners sold the baths to a company to demolish and build high-rise apartments. During the demolition a fire broke out and the company could never get approval from the state to build their apartments. In 1973, the baths became part of the Golden Gate Natural Recreation Area.
Environment and Geography
San Francisco occupies the tip of the peninsula half way up the coast of Northern California. San Francisco is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, Golden Gate Straight, & San Francisco Bay area. The city is built on 40+ hills in which some are over 1,000 feet high. The fog is common in the Summer mornings and affects different elevations in varying amounts. The city sits on the San Andreas fault line which means the city is prone to dealing with earthquakes. The 1906 and 1989 earthquakes went down in history as two of the most devastating earthquakes in San Francisco. Today, street signs in the city are above ground due to earthquakes. The fog is so heavy in the mornings that foghorns were installed around the Golden Gate Bridge in order to help vessels cross the Golden Gate Strait.
Point Bonita Lighthouse
Point Bonita Lighthouse is located North-West of the Golden Gate Bridge. Today Point Bonita lighthouse greets mariners and lighthouse visitors alike. The trail to Point Bonita Lighthouse from the visitors center is 1/2 mile long and consists of loose gravel. Restrooms are located at the Point Bonita Trailhead. Make sure to stay on the trail because there is poisonous oak on both sides of the path. The lighthouse is Open Sunday and Monday from 12:30pm – 3:30pm.
History of Point Bonita Lighthouse
Since 1855, Point Bonita Lighthouse has guided ships through the hazardous Golden Gate Bridge. This lighthouse has helped gold seekers, guided navel fleets heading off to war in the Philippines and the pacific theater and guided thousands of immigrants coming to the United States. The lighthouse was the 3rd lighthouse built on the west coast after San Francisco’s fog sent ships crashing into the rocky shorelines.
The mission of Battery Mendell was to keep enemies warships farther from San Francisco Harbor than any of the earlier coastal defenses were equipped to do. Battery Mendell was known for “missing guns” because guns would rise above ground, fire, and then lower back down. The canons were able to target and strike vessels up to 8 miles away. The guns remained inservice until 194, and then removed and sold for scrap metal.
While hiking in and around Battery Mendell make sure to take some nice pictures. I promise, the views are going to be spectacular!
Mile Rocks Beach
This picture was taken during a windy day on top of Pyramid Rock.
Here at Mile Rocks Beach, physical remnants from different time periods and activities at Land’s End are still visible. Visitors can get to the bottom of the trail by taking the 100 step stairs to the bottom of the beach or unsafely climb backwards down Pyramid Rock.
The Land’s End trail is a 5.6 kilometers (3.4 mile) dirt, sand and gravel trail that runs along the North-West coast of San Francisco. During the late 19th and early 20th century suicides were extremely high at Land’s End. Early newspapers tell stories of the first men and women to take their lives here. By 1916 employees at the city morgue kept a journal called “The Death Lure of Land’s End” recording suicides. By 1910 San Francisco had the highest suicide rates in the country. Once the Golden Gate Bridge was constructed, the bridge became a famous location to commit suicide. Even to this day, people will fly to San Francisco to end their lives at the Golden Gate Bridge. Dogs are also allowed to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
Since the 1880’s San Francisco has been reconstructing Land’s End due to the amount of Land Slides that have occurred over the years. Retaining walls, terracing gardens, irrigation strategies, asphalt and sand bags have all be used to try to stop the land slides. The unstable ground has caused hikers to fall to their death.
Land’s End beautiful scenery became an inspiration for painters, writers, poets, photographers, sculptures and musicians. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area archive contains prints of artwork with Lands End subjects produced as early as the 1870s.
The peregrine Falcon, California Quail, Great Blue Heron, Red Leg Frog, Bumble Bee Scarab Beetle have all been in danger due to human interaction with wildlife but ever since John Muir started the Sierra Club, life for these creatures have been increasing greatly.
Fun Places in and Around San Francisco
Musée Mécanique -Before hand held video games, VR, smart TV’s, and electric scooters were invented, people were entertained through arcade games that were often found at amusement parks. Unlike today’s arcade games that are all computerized with flashing led lights, the classic arcade games were made from wood, plastic, and metal like materials. Some of the games were made solely by hand and are now worth a fortune. Make sure to bring some cash and play.
California Academy of Sciences – Are you looking for a fun and educational experience? The California Academy of Sciences is filled with hours of entertainment for you and your friends. Make sure to step inside the rainforest and embark on a journey through the the lush rainforest filled with exotic wildlife.
San Francisco Zoo – Take a stroll or take a bike through San Francisco’s zoo and get an up close look at some weird and exotic looking creatures like the like the Smoky Jungle Frog, Chinese Fire-Bellied Newt, Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula, Red Tail Boa and Koala. If you happen to be a Senior (65+), there are Senior walks in which Seniors get their own private tour with a docent guide. The tours start one hour before the park opens.
Alcatraz Island – Have you ever wanted to go to jail without officially committing a crime and get out out the same day you got in? Alcatraz Island is best known for its location and well known inmates attempting daring escapes into the harsh waters. There are a lot of unsolved mysteries on this Island that you will learn about while on the Island.
Angel Island State Park – Angel Island State Park is the largest natural park in the San Francisco bay area. Make sure to hike the Summit of Mt. Livermore and visit the US Immigration Station while you are there. Segway and tram tours are available for purchase. There is a nice café on the island where you can pick up a cup of coffee and sandwich to go.
Point Bonita Lighthouse – Point Bonita Lighthouse is located in the Marin Headlands. I recommend having a car to get here. If you don’t have a car, you can get a Lift to drive you to the parking lot on the top. Once you reach the top you will have to hike 0.8 Kilometers (1/2 a mile) to get to the lighthouse. There will be plenty of great picture worthy moments. You can also visit the Nike Missile Station while here.
16th Avenue Titled Steps – The 16th Avenue Titled Steps was a neighborhood wide project where people got together and donated to change the 163 steps into a beautiful mosaic piece of artwork.
Japan Town – There are very few Japan Town’s left in the USA so make sure to go to this one. While you are here make sure to slurp down as much Raman Noodles as you can before you leave. Japan town is very small and only consists of 6 blocks of shops and restaurants. If your into Manga, there is a huge library with the entire bottom floor filled with Manga books to buy.
Fisherman's Warf Seals
Go find the seals at pier 39!
Fisherman’s Warf is the place tourist crave!
Before the turn of the century, Fisherman’s Warf was filled with fishing fleets composed of lateen-rigged sailboats. The original boats were the color green and the name of a patron saint appeared on the hull. Due to the harsh waters and and extreme weather near Golden Gate Bridge fisherman would fish outside of the bridge and made $2 – $3 a week if they were lucky.
This area of San Francisco is where a lot of touristy type of entertainment take place. Make sure to visit Pier 39, a two level pier where you can find touristy merchandise, a two tier carousel, 7D theater and circus performer. Pier 33 is where you can get tickets and take the cruise to Alcatraz Island. If you have kids and teens with you make sure to visit the Exploratorium, a super fun interactive science museum.
- San Francisco has the 2nd largest China town in the United States.
- San Francisco was once known as Yurba Buena.
- The U.S. Navy originally planned on painting the Golden Gate Bridge Black with yellow stripes. It’s official color is “International Orange” although people often assume the color of. the bridge is red from a distance.
- Due to the sky rocketing cost of living, there are more dogs than children in. San Francisco.
- The bendable straw was invented by Joseph B. Friedman and patented in 1937.
- In 1859, Joshua Abraham Norton Self-declared himself as the Emperor of the United States in 1859.
- The Redwood trees helped salvage the city in the 1906 fire.
- There are 3 cable cars that run along the city streets.