Few first-time visitors realize how small, compared to some other major cities, San Francisco is. In fact, at less than 850,000 population, the city is just fourth largest in California and only 14th nationwide. Moreover, its total land area is just 121 sq kilometers. With this in mind, it is easy to see that San Francisco, despite all its famous hills, is easily manageable and great place to travel by foot. But when going does get tough, San Francisco’s historic train systems (yes, there are more than one!) are there to help!
Start your sunny San Francisco day with a good cup of coffee and amazing desert at the famous Schubert's Bakery, on Clement street of ethnically rich Inner Richmond district where, according to Schubert’s employees, Opera Cake is particularly favored by Russians of San Francisco (but should you prefer something more savory for breakfast instead, try the popular Blue Danube Coffee House just a block away.)
Done with your first meal of the day, move few blocks north to Arguello and Lake to visit Temple Emanu-El, a beautiful Synagogue which is home to the second oldest Congregation in California. Walk few more blocks north and you’ll get to entrance of the massive Presidio Park, the very place from where the city of San Francisco started on March 28 1776, when great explorer and military commander Juan Bautista de Anza set here the location for a new Spanish base.
Continue your walk east along Pacific or Washington Aves with enchanting views and beautiful villas to prestigious Pacific Heights neighborhood where the rich and famous such as actor Nicolas Cage and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi reside. With idyllic park-like location and best microclimate in San Francisco, Pacific Heights was named the most expensive residential neighborhood in the US in 2013. The oldest building here dates back to 1863 and many mansions and chateaux such as Belden House on Gough are on the National Registry of Historic Places. The Consulate General of Russian Federation is here as well. It is said that the location of this multiple-story brick building caused some tensions during the cold war as it commanded views all over the city and could be used for spy activities over the former missile base (known now as SF-88) on the other side of the Golden Gate strait. Do visit and check the views for yourself!
From the consulate, walk few blocks south to Broadway and head eastward to the Russian Hill, enjoying, as you walk, panoramic views on Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay, and Alcatraz, stopping on the way at Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral, the first Orthodox Church in San Francisco. Arriving at Russian Hill, so called because of a former graveyard where deceased sailors and seal hunters from the ships of Russian American Company were buried, walk to the little park with more great views at the top of the hill on Vallejo between Taylor and Manson. There you’ll see a memorial plaque installed to commemorate the early Russian explorers of California. Next, catch San Francisco famous Cable Car (Powell/Mason Line) and travel to Lombard, where every tourist’s must - a walk of beautifully crooked street - awaits.
Now that after all the walking you are hungry again, it’s time for a late lunch and the options are abundant just few blocks away at San Francisco’s own Fisherman Wharf. Among others, adorable, if not inexpensive, seafood Scoma’s restaurant (over 50 years in business!) is our favorite. Spent the rest of light hours of the day enjoying Fisherman Wharf and/or allow a walk of famous Stairs of Telegraph Hills to lead you to one of the city’s most recognized landmarks, Coit Tower to enjoy amazing sunset from its top.
As it’s getting dark, flag a taxi to take you back to Inner Richmond. There, on Balboa St, treat yourself for an awesome traditional Russian dinner at Katia’s Russian Tea Room, a winner of Zagat’s Distinction Award, before heading for a taste of nightlife to Clement St where at local bars such as Neck of Woods where Irish, Russian, African, American experimental, bluegrass, and other types of bands and artists often perform.