How To Spend A Weekend in San Francisco

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However, and as we approached its golden bridge - the light bouncing off the waters of the famous San Francisco Bay - I immediately regretted our decision. Ahead of us the city balanced like a wave on a hill; pastel rows of houses tumbling downwards and the Pacific blue ocean framing its edges. As it turns out, and after some fastidious planning, a weekend in San Francisco was all we needed. In the space of just two days, we explored its rainbow-painted streets, gawped at its vibrant street.
Rather than beginning your time in San Francisco fighting the crowds at the usual tourist hotspots, instead head inland: towards The Mission. San Francisco's very first neighbourhood, The Mission is the city's Ground Zero: a historic and blended area often cited for its 'grittiness'. Founded by the city's Spanish padres in 1776, today The Mission has clung to its Latino roots; its walls decorated with murals painted by the likes of Diego Rivera.Once overlooked by tourists, today The Mission has - perhaps unavoidably - become the new hipster hangout. A place that blends young families, tech professionals and a large Mexican community, the neighbourhood's vibrancy has bought about some of the city's best new restaurants and artsy hangouts.
Explore The Mission's Murals (Balmly Alley & Clarion Alley)
When planning our 48 hours in San Francisco, we'd heard rumours that if we ventured deep into the heart of The Mission, we'd find a treasure trove of vibrant, historic and poignant murals. Initiated by the likes of Mexican painter, Diego Rivera, his work - alongside other Latino artists - resulted in an outburst of artistry; with over 500 different murals eventually appearing on The Mission's walls.In fact, it's now said that the area has the highest concentration of street art than any other neighbourhood in the world. To ensure you don't spend too long wandering around a little aimlessly, head straight to Balmy Alley and nearby Clarion Alley, where you'll find a rainbow of politically pertinent, culturally significant and beautiful murals.
Visit the Conservatory of Flowers
Whilst we made the (uphill) 50 minute walk to the peaceful Conservatory of Flowers (found within the Golden Gate Park), I would recommend simply getting an taxi here; saving you both time and tired feet. The Park itself represents one of San Francisco's largest green spaces, covering some 1,000 acres. Perched high above the city, this green oasis offers a quiet refuge from the chaos of city life.At its heart is the magnificent Conservatory of Flowers. A resident in the city since 1878, this peaceful, Victorian Style, glasshouse is filled with exotic plants and ornamental foliage.
Evening Views: The Painted Ladies (710-720 Steiner Street)
From Haight-Ashbury, or the Golden Gate Park, begin a lazy descent back towards downtown San Francisco; making an obligatory stop at the city's most famous residents: the iconic Painted Ladies.
An Alcatraz Evening Tour
For anyone visiting San Francisco for the first time, it would be sacrilegious not to plan a trip to its most haunting of residents: Alcatraz. The inspiration behind J.K Rowling's Azkaban, Alcatraz clings to a lonely outcrop out in the cold waters of the Frisco Bay; its cells and windows turned towards the city lights. Known locally as 'The Rock', Alcatraz has played host to Civil War deserters, Native American prisoners, US soldiers convicted of war crimes and - perhaps most famously - a who's who of some of the country's most violent and dangerous criminals.