Updated: Apr 25
I am fortunate enough to have friends in many parts of the world and even more fortunate to be invited to visit many of them.
As a result, I have found myself in San Francisco for Christmas and New Year. Whilst I have many friends who have visited the city and have spoken highly about it, it's not somewhere that I have contemplated visiting.
A few months ago, the opportunity came up (to doggie sit of all things :D) so here I am!
Golden Gate Bridge from Tilden Park, Berkeley.
As someone who loves travelling, I can actually be very disorganised or perhaps it's more about just going with the flow. As a result, I didn't really look into things to do whilst here, or even glance at a map to find out where my friends lived in relation to the rest of the city.
On the day I arrived, my friend took me for a walk around the local neighbourhood and beyond and from that moment, I could tell that it was a space that I was going to really enjoy. The great thing with the USA is the grid system of the streets so it's not too difficult to navigate.
Whilst I was aware that there are many beautiful and world famous National Parks that are not too far from the city such as Sequoia NP, Yosemite NP and Muir Woods, I wasn't aware of the amount of green spaces dotted around the city.
The first space I stopped at on my first night was Alamo Square Park. It is surrounded by Victorian and Edwardian homes with 5 houses, locally known as the 'Painted Ladies'. With San Francisco being known for it's steep roads, this is in fact at the top of a hill which means that it has a really wonderful view over the city.
Of course, a visit to this city wouldn't be complete without a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge. My friend dropped me off at Fort Mason which was a previous military site. Walking west, I headed past the Presidio, located in the northwestern corner of the city. It was an Army base in 1846. The Golden Gate Bridge enters San Francisco through the Presidio. Crissy Field neighbours it which was also part of the base, but is now an exclusive area combined with public space, including it's own beach, open grassy fields, bike and walking paths, cafés, public grills and stunning views of Marin County on the opposite side of the bridge.
There is a cafe and gift shop called the Warming Hut which proceeds the short walk up to the path which takes you to the start of the bridge path.
This path is filled with walkers but also those who have hired bikes to make their way across the 1.7 miles across the bridge.
As a lover of discovering new places by walking them, it makes it so much more enjoyable when seeing beautiful trees and birds. This is definitely very true of this west coast city.
Another stunning and vast area is the Golden Gate Park. This is a vast space which is home to enclosed American bison, the beautiful and graceful de Young Museum and a Japanese Tea Garden. It also houses the botanical gardens and some spectacular views. One could very easily spend an entire day here.
I am not trying to paint San Francisco as being only positive. It is a busy city with tower blocks and urban areas, and also a terrible homeless issues, however, even amongst the busy streets, you can find street trees and also little tokens of green around all parts of the city.
In addition, I have seen a number of living walls around the city and a recent addition is the roof gardens at Salesforce Tower. This is a beautiful space for city workers and tourists alike to spend a few minutes of the day, surrounded by greenery and towers.
The layout has been carefully designed to incorporate plants from around the globe which brings in a range of birds which is always lovely to see in a city space. There are also lots of places to sit and tables and art material for children to spend time creating.
I have most definitely been delighted and very pleasantly surprised with San Francisco and am happily discovering it's many and varied green spaces.