A personal tour of the City of St. Francis

The Golden Gate Bridge from the parking lot.

Your phone rings: the caller ID is from a distant area code. It turns out they are friends or family announcing plans to visit you and tour the area. They have never been to San Francisco. There is a lot to see, you only have one day and they expect you to be the expert being you LIVE here!
Being that I grew up in the City of St. Francis, spent eight of 16 years going to school there, and while in college, delivered flowers, worked for car rental companies and restaurants, I have a pretty good handle on how to get around.
So get out a map, get your  highlighter and follow me along a route that will impress your guests.
The first step in impressing your friends is the scenic journey to the city. Shooting up Interstate 280 along the peninsula is impressive. Along the way, you see Stanford Linear Accelerator, the Flintstones house in Hillsborough, Crystal Spring reservoirs and jets taking off from San Francisco International Airport.
Interstate 280 splits at the city limits. Stay to the left and exit on Brotherhood. Turn left on Lake Merced Boulevard and follow the road around the lake. Eventually you will veer left onto the Great Highway and go past the San Francisco Zoo.
The Great Highway is a three-mile long straightway that parallels Ocean Beach and ends at Golden Gate Park. Enter the park on Martin Luther King Drive and meander toward Steinhart Aquarium and Morrison Planetarium. Nearby is the Japanese Tea Garden, the Conservatory of Flowers and De Young Museum, all excellent places to spend the day.
If you take John Kennedy Drive west, you will reach the beaches. Turn right and you will pass the Cliff House, built in the early part of last century.
Once past the Cliff House on Point Lobos Avenue, take the first right onto El Camino Del Mar. This road follows the scenic coastline, past the Palace of Legion of Honor and turns into Lincoln Boulevard.
Along this route, once you enter the Presidio, you will be able to take magnificent pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. The road eventually goes under Doyle Drive where you can park and walk the Golden Gate Bridge or take a drive across into Marin County. (Note that there is no toll going north, but there is a toll southbound.)
Lincoln Boulevard continues down the hill, and if you turn right on Long Avenue, you will get to Fort Point, located under the Golden Gate Bridge. From there, take Mason Street along the water. Mason turns into Marina Boulevard, which turns into Bay Street and drops you into Fisherman’s Wharf.
Opportunities to photograph the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, Coit Tower and the downtown skyline can be enjoyed here. Columbus Street is unusual in that it cuts diagonally along the normal street grid, culminating with the pyramid Trans America building.
From Fisherman’s Wharf, follow The Embarcadero, go under the Bay Bridge, pass Pac Bell Park and catch scenic Interstate 280 to head back south.
This route will impress your guests and take them to famous San Francisco landmarks. Happy touring!

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