Exploring San Francisco: Tours around the Bay, Part 3

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Hop On Hop Off Downtown x Golden Gate Bridge x Sausalito Tour
One of the quick and efficient way to see the city (and to get a little insight on the city) is by taking a tour. We were graciously invited by City Sightseeing Hop On-Hop Off to check out their 48 hour tour.

My friends were quite amazed how much we got to see in the week that we spent in San Francisco – but I think it was a combination of renting a car to those hard to get to places, having a friend tour you around the city and hopping onto this bus tour that really made our stay unforgettable. Yes, we were exhausted every day but we had seen and experienced so much – it was totally worth it!

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With the Hop On Hop Off tour, they have several loops that you can take – Brian and I thought it was best we joined the Downtown and Golden Gate Bridge tour. We started off at their main office located at Fisherman’s Wharf. If you stay on this tour the entire time, it takes about 90 minutes to get around the 14 stops they have on the map. For the Downtown Tour, we took the entire tour to rest our feet from days of walking. It was nice to get some insight into the different things and street art happening around the city. What I found interesting was the fact that there are ships right underneath the roads in certain parts of San Francisco, as most of it used to be water! Also, there’s a certain point near Embarcadero that aligns with the Juan de Fuca plate. Our tour guide was pretty entertaining and informative.

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We decided to do the Golden Gate & Sausalito Tour as well, since we wanted the iconic drive on the bridge as well as a different perspective of San Francisco. Also a 90 minute tour, our tour guide was so hilarious! I’m not going to repeat what he had said to us, as I don’t want him to get in trouble, but we really enjoyed his colour commentary. Our tour guide stopped right before the Golden Gate bridge to get a great angle, then onto the bridge itself. Wow, what an almighty bridge. Our Lions Gate bridge here in Vancouver pales in comparison to how huge this bridge is up close!

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Once we got over the bridge, it was really windy (be sure to bring sunglasses and tie your hair back if you have long hair). We stopped at a great vantage point to take more photos by the bridge.

From here, we hopped back onto the bus and continued through Sausalito – the Beverly Hills of San Francisco. I can definitely see the charm of Sausalito with it’s beautiful view of the city, marina and ‘small town’ charm. Apparently, a lot of stars live here.

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Finally, we got off at Ghirardelli Square….because…..chocolate. There is more to see around Ghirardelli Square than just chocolate but I’m going to be honest and say I beelined it to the shop/cafe. Ghirardelli Chocolate is another great San Francisco institution that’s been around since 1852 which makes them America’s oldest continuously operating chocolate maker. You’ve probably heard of them if you’ve travelled into the US.

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At Ghirardelli Square you can sit down and indulge in many, many chocolately treats. They have shakes, floats, cocoa. drinking chocolate, ice cream and SUNDAES galore. It was such a tough choice to pick just one, but I went with the Sea Salt Caramel Sundae ($9.95) – vanilla ice cream smothered in ceramy caramel, freshly homemade hot fudge and seasalt. Topped with whipped cream, creamy caramel, sea salt and a Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Square. Holy moly that was indulgent…it’s a great place to take kids and chocoholics like myself.

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For more info on the City Sightseeing Hop on Hop off Tour, check out their website here.

Tower Tour Monterey x Carmel Tour
The next tour we took was an all day tour by Tower Tours heading to Monterey and Carmel. This beautiful and scenic drive was a great change from the hustle and bustle from running around the streets of San Francisco.

Some of the notable stops include Monterey’s Cannery Row – a small area that once served as a sardine canning factories (hence the name). Now the area is home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the historic buildings from an era long passed. One of the big draws though is definitely the aquarium, which I thought was one of the best aquarium’s I’ve ever visited (if not the best). It may not look like much on the outside but the inside is expansive and we had about an hour to spend in Monterey and most of it was spent exploring the aquarium. We did not have enough time to see the entire aquarium, but we really enjoyed the parts we saw. If you have a day to spare, I suggest checking out this Aquarium over any other ones on your trip to San Fran.

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We headed towards Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove which is famous for it’s scene 17-Mile Drive. Pebble Beach is definitely a destination for those who love golf and want to be away from the hustle and bustle of life (also, if you are very wealthy, it seems!). Pebble Beach is a well manicured area that’s tucked away, you almost feel like you’re not even in the same California you were about an hour ago.

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As we drove through onto Pacific Grove and to our destination Carmel, I could only describe the view as breathtaking and peaceful. No camera could fully capture the beauty of the West Coast.

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We finally arrived at our destination: Carmel. Carmel is this quaint community that feels very far removed from big city life. Though there are still luxuries that only expensive tastes can afford like Bottega Veneta and Tiffany’s. But they do it all very humbly and low key with all the stores having similar storefronts.

What I really enjoyed was watching the sunset on the beach at Carmel. I can see why it’s considered one of the most romantic places in the US.

If you have a day to spare and want to see a bit more of the ‘country’ side, I’d definitely recommend checking this tour out. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and personable – he pointed out all the wildlife and knew a great deal about the coast line.

For more information, check out their website here.

Up next, continue reading about my tours –  around Alcatraz and chocolate experience at Dandelion Chocolate!

Read my San Francisco Posts:

Part 1: Dias De Los Muertos and the Mission District
Part 2: Cruising, Museums and Sight Seeing
Part 3: San Francisco Tours: Golden Gate, Sausalito, Monterey and Carmel
Part 4: Alcatraz and Dandelion Chocolate
Part 5: Exploratorium and Embarcadero, Pier 39
Part 6: Tech City: Google, Facebook, Tesla, Stanford

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