Remember how Day 1 in SF for us concluded around 9:30pm? Well, the result of that was an early morning wake up at 6am. With neither of us capable of falling back to sleep, we decided we might as well get our day going!
We left our hotel around 7am and took a bus to the Union Square area of the city. We walked around for a bit trying to find the location of the cable car stop. We realized we were going the wrong direction and eventually found it when we noticed 5-6 people standing in a line.
So, we hopped in a line and waited for about 20 minutes until we saw the cable car coming down the hill. At this point, the line had gotten rather long behind us. I definitely recommend trying to do this early in the morning if it’s on your SF To-Do List. I’ve heard that in the afternoons the wait time can be around 2 hours. And who wants to waste time standing in line for that long? (As it turns out, me. But for something more exciting than a cable car…we’ll get to that on Day 4 though).
Here’s a shot of the famous cable car. It’s also a National Historic Landmark and one of the only ones you can ride! (Or is it the only one you can ride?) Anyways, it’s cool.
We took the cable car all the way to the end of the line. As a reminder, you need to pay with cash and it’s $7 one way. Thanks to our Visitor Passport though, we were good to go! This particular line drops you off right by the Buena Vista Cafe which is famous for their Irish Coffees. We sadly didn’t get to try one, but we’ve heard they’re quite tasty!
I used to wonder before our trip how it was possible that people got photos on an empty cable car. The key is to take that photo at the end of the line when everyone is getting off. As you can see, that’s what I did and it worked out great.
After hopping off the cable car we walked over to a hotel in the Fisherman’s Wharf area where our friends were staying. We met up with them and then walked to breakfast at Joanie’s Happy Days Diner. The coffee was good, the staff was friendly, and the food was tasty and affordably priced. We recommend eating there!
After breakfast, our friends were heading up to Muir Woods and we headed over to Pier 39 for our tour of Alcatraz! I could’ve printed our tickets off at home, but I’m a stickler for a real ticket, so we went to the will call window and picked them up. It was a quick process.
Then we hopped in line and waited to board the ferry to take us to the island!
The boat we took over to the island.
We enjoyed the ferry ride over to the Rock, and it didn’t take too long either. Even in July, I highly suggest wearing pants and bringing some sort of jacket. It was chilly even with the sun out.
But, you also get great views:
When we got to the island, we listened to a Park Ranger give a quick rundown of where things were on the island and then we joined a volunteer-led program that focused on the island as a military fortress. It was interesting and quite informative! There was so much I didn’t know about.
After that, we made our way up the hill to the Cellhouse where we would begin our audio tour.
The thing that probably surprised me the most about Alcatraz was the beautiful vegetation. It was all so pretty and there were flowers everywhere!
See what I mean? Gorgeous.
Anyways, the audio tour walked us through the Cellhouse and was narrated by former prison guards and inmates. We, of course, got to see plenty of jail cells too.
In the end, I think we spent close to 4 hours at Alcatraz, and I am sure we could’ve spent more too. The island was much bigger than I realized. And, fun fact: when you watch one of the old Star Wars movies and Darth Vader’s ship door closes, that is actually the sound of a cell door closing at Alcatraz.
After Alcatraz we made our way back to the Wharf and got a snack as it was now mid-afternoon. From there, we moved on to Musee Mecanique! It was an antique, coin-operated arcade…and it was awesome!
We walked in and were instantly amazed by the incredible amount of machines in the collection. However, there was one in particular that I was looking for: the arm wrestling machine. You see, I am a huge Julie Andrews fan, and Musee Mecanique owns the machine that she arm wrestled in The Princess Diaries movie. So I had to take a stab at it.
It was hard and I got my butt kicked…twice. Oh well. We still had an awesome time and wish we could have stayed longer! But, we were out of time and needed to meet up with our friends again for a bachelorette party.
You see, the whole reason we went to California was to see one of my best friends get married. And we had planned the bachelorette party for Sunday night, the night before the wedding.
So, Andrew left me at our friend’s hotel so that he could hang out with one of his old roommates from college who now lives in SF. And I met up with the girls. We started the evening with a cruise around the bay that lasted 90 minutes. It was pretty foggy, but I still got a photo of the bridge that I love:
Over in this area by the bridge we also got to see some whales which was unexpected. So that was awesome! I cannot stress this enough though: bring a jacket! Sunday was by far the chilliest day we had while in the city, and of course, it was the day I was out on the water twice. Despite the chill though, we still enjoyed the cruise!
After this, we took a trolley down to the Ferry Building and then walked to a restaurant for dinner. After that, we went back to the hotel, gave Whitney some gifts, and then spent some time praying for her. It is a memory I’ll keep with me for quite awhile.
From there, Andrew and I met back up and took an Uber to our hotel and called it a night.
Day 2 was pretty eventful and on Day 3, things keep rolling!