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San Francisco – II: Solo Travel for Introverts

Continued from San Francisco – I : Solo Travel for Introverts

Fisherman’s Wharf & Pier 39

Carnival at Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is the iconic seafront of San Francisco. There are multiple piers stretching out to the sea with eclectic mix of restaurants, carnivals, museums and markets adorning them. It was created from the rubble of buildings destroyed by the earthquake in 1906.

Pier 39

I really love just walking around this spot and checking out cool new places. I have found lots of tiny museums like an old video game arcade museum as museum of seal furs which you can touch. Sometimes, many piers host farmers markets where I enjoy steamed buns or lobster rolls.

Crab & Shrimp Boil, Bubba Gump Shrimp

Recommendations –

Food Bubba Gump Shrimp. Inspired by Forest Gump, has variety of fried and stewed seafood at mid-range prices. Try the Crab and Shrimp Boil.

ChocolatesGhirardelli Square. From a historic Italian-American Chocolate-Maker. Watch chocolate being made in person, and try the hot chocolate. They also give out free samples.

Chocolates at Ghirardelli Shop

My favorite part of this place, though, are the sea-lions. There are often hundreds of them, filling the air with a loud cacophony of ‘honk, honk, honk’ sounds. These sea-lions are wild. A few decades ago, when human beings here gave food to a few seals, and they told their friends all over the pacific ocean, and since then, word got around sea-lion communities. Today, sometimes thousands of seals descend upon here for their yearly holidays with free food and photoshoots from human beings.

Seals at Pier 39 San Fransisco
Sealions at Pier 39 San Fransisco

Historic Chinatown of San Francisco

Chinatowns are common in western cities today and this one in San Francisco is the oldest. It was founded by immigrant communities who came here during the California Gold Rush during 1800s. As in other places they braved prejudices like the Chinese Exclusion Act and still prospered. And today, it is the most densely populated neighborhood in the US west of Manhattan, and remains a globally recognizable place from movies like A Pursuit of Happiness and Big Trouble in Little China.

Entrance to Chinatown

I generally start from the Southern end, at the Pine St entrance and walk along Grant Ave, with the Dragon Gate marking the entry. This is the main artery and filled with various souvenir shops & tea-houses conducting tea-tasting. Paper lanterns adorn the streets to create a unique atmosphere and I love to stroll along this street and its alleyways.

Tea Tasting

My favorite one is Ross Alley where you can watch the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory’s process of hand-making fortune cookies – which they have been doing since 1960s. I also loved walking along Stockton St. This is the more authentic & understated cousin of Grant Ave, filled with fresh produce, butcher shops, mahjong parlors and barer-shops.

Chinatown Market

I would also recommend checking out the Statue of Democracy Goddess in Portsmouth Square which honors pro-democracy movements and victims of human-rights violations under the homeland’s regime.

Tea Shop

Recommendations –

FoodHunan House, mid-level budget and has an extensive menu. Try the ‘Hot & Numbing Spicy Pot’.

Tea & DumplingsHang Ah Tearoom, oldest in the US. I recommend the combination platter of dumplings.

BakeryEastern Bakery, started in 1920s – Try the egg-tarts and moon-cakes.

Alameda Hangars & Breweries

View of City Skyline from Alameda

The Alameda Island, to the east of San Francisco, is a hidden gem not many tourists know about. The town has many museums to honor its military history including the USS Hornet Museum, located inside the WW-2 aircraft carrier.

But in modern times, there has been a huge spirit and drinks revolution, and many older military barracks, hangars and docks are converted into breweries, wineries and distilleries. Many of them are open-air with an amazing view of the ships in the bay and San Francisco’s skyline in the distance.

Aircraft at the Hangar 1 Vodka

Recommendations –

BeerFaction Brewing – Large selection of local craft beers with an open-air tasting field with a view of the city.

WineBuilding 43 winery, great wines with old-time-y pin-up girl & other WW-2 era decor.

SpiritHangar 1 vodka – Excellent vodka cocktails housed inside an aircraft hangar. Less crowded alternative to the more well-known St George’s Spirits.

Hour Trip from SF – Point Reyes & Tomales Bay

Point Reyes, just to the North of San Francisco has dramatic landscapes from redwood trees, to cliffs overlooking the sea, to beaches, floral meadows, and charming cheese-making towns. The Point Reyes Lighthouse has one of the best views in the area.

My favorite part of the region is Tomales Bay, which has a line-up of various oyster shacks along the coast that use freshly harvested oysters in the region. I had a great time, having oysters, wine and looking into the sunset view of the waters.

Recommendation –

CheeseCowgirl Creamery Cheese Shop – Try out the local Humboldt style cheeses.

OystersThe Marshall Store is a quieter & less crowded alternative to the more famous Hog Island Oyster Co. At the Marshall Store, I would recommend the BBQ or smoked oysters.

Have you visited these places before?

Stay tuned for more places including the Latin Mission District & Napa Wine County!


  1. Beautiful! I’ve never been to San Francisco but visiting California is a dream of mine! The Ghirardelli shop looks (and sounds) amazing!! Thanks for sharing 😍

  2. SF has been on my visit list for quite some time! The tea shop would be one of the first places i go followed by the oyster place! I love walking by the water way, listening to the sounds of the water hitting the beach. thanks for this post!

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