A Solo Traveler's Guide To San Francisco

San Francisco | © tpsdave/Pixabay
San Francisco | © tpsdave/Pixabay
Photo of Brett Gordon
27 April 2017

If ever there was a place to enjoy traveling and exploring alone, San Francisco is it. From outdoor excursions to indoor culture, this city offers a range of sights and activities to suit almost anyone. Traveling alone can often be daunting, but with easy-to-use transportation options, exploring San Francisco on your own is simple and can lead to a newfound sense of independence.

Baker Beach | © Brett Gordon

Be a Tourist

Give in. Be a tourist for a day or two in one of the most iconic American cities. There are the classic San Francisco activities, like biking across the Golden Gate Bridge or riding a trolley. Visit the ruins of Sutro Baths, large saltwater pools in the Land’s End area of the Outer Richmond District; the ruins overlook a rocky shoreline primed for scenic photographs. Go for a walk around Golden Gate Park, then take time to explore nearby neighborhoods like The Haight or The Castro. Go for a walk down the Embarcadero; it runs right along the bay, so it’s easy to hop on a bay tour or take a ferry to Alcatraz, another time-honored San Francisco site. Along the Embarcadero, you’ll come to Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can observe the local seals and sea lions. Round out your tourist day by taking a walk on the beach at Crissy Field. You’ll see both the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz from the shore.

Golden Gate from Crissy Field | © Brett Gordon

Go for a Hike

With an abundance of natural beauty, San Francisco has some of the best hiking spots in the nation. Just across the Golden Gate Bridge lie the Marin Headlands. With moderate to strenuous hikes and beautiful views of the ocean and the city, the headlands are a great way to spend the day solo. Another great hike is Land’s End. It’s a 3.5-mile round trip hike. The Presidio Promenade is a 2.2-mile paved trail that starts at the Lombard Gate and reaches to the Golden Gate Bridge. And for an iconic, panoramic view of the city, opt for the Twin Peaks hike.

View of Coit Tower | © Brett Gordon

Treat Yo’Self

Some days you just need to treat yourself. Let those little fish eat that dead skin off your feet, slather some yogurt and honey on your face, white knuckle the table during that Thai massage. San Francisco offers many different ways to pamper yourself. Anjalee Thai Massage is an affordable spa located on Polk Street. International Orange is one of the top-rated spas in the city. It offers deep tissue and hot stone massages, acupuncture, and enzyme facials. Heat up in a Russian Sauna or Turkish steam room at Archimedes Banya. If you want a green, organic experience, detoxify with Himalayan salt crystal accents at EarthBody spa.

Black & White City Hills | © Brett Gordon

Go for a Fancy Drink

Who needs a hot date to go get a fancy drink? If you are solo in this city, taking yourself out for a cocktail can be a special treat on its own. There are plenty of top secret speakeasies in the city offering a variety of modern and Prohibition-style cocktails. Throw on that little black dress and take yourself out to Bourbon and Branch for a sidecar. You’ll need to make a reservation through the website, but the cocktails are exquisite and worth the extra step. Within Bourbon and Branch is another speakeasy called Wilson & Wilson. Order off of the hidden menu located in a case file and sip your drink from antique glassware. If you’re downtown, stop into the Clift Hotel’s iconic Redwood Room for a martini or a Manhattan.

Get Some Culture

No other city does culture quite like San Francisco. A unique blend of art, music, museums, and architecture, this city is defined by its eccentricities and cultural diversity. Spend the day at the Museum of Modern Art, take yourself to see the San Francisco Ballet, or explore the Asian Art Museum. San Francisco International Airport is home to rotating public art works, many outside the security area. Other museums include the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, and the California Academy of Science. You can also take an architecture walking tour for some perspective on the design history of this city’s unique and recognizable structures.

There are so many things to do and enjoy in San Francisco, sometimes even more so by yourself. Don’t let the lack of a partner in crime slow you down. Take the opportunity to get out, get fit, and get a good cocktail. San Francisco is waiting for you.

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