Andy and Sun’s Day of Fun: Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, and Fisherman’s Wharf

The highlights:

  • Biking by the beach in the Presidio
  • Gorgeous view of the bay from the top of the Marin Headlands
  • Delicious tacos in Sausalito
  • Playing old arcade favorites on Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Seeing the Palace of Fine Arts lit up at night 

Check out the other Andy’s Days of Fun here.

Even though I’ve lived in San Francisco for over 2 years, I had never biked over the Golden Gate Bridge. Now that my friend Sun was visiting, I had the perfect opportunity to check this item off my San Francisco bucket list.

Today’s experience will have us going over the bridge, up into the Marin Headlands, down into Sausalito, back to SF on the ferry, and cruise down Fisherman’s Wharf back to the start. This is definitely the most challenging Days of Fun yet, but I’m ready to take it on.

The route:

GGB route  

The stops:

  1. Katz Bagel breakfast in Dolores Park
  2. Rent bikes at Sports Basement
  3. Heading to the bridge: Crissy FieldThe Warming HutTorpedo Wharf, and Fort Point
  4. Going over the bridge: Golden Gate Bridge PavilionGolden Gate Bridge, and Vista Point
  5. Bike up the Marin Headlands: Hawk Hill and Battery Spencer
  6. Lunch in Sausalito: Sausalito Taco ShopLappert’s Ice Cream
  7. Ride the Blue & Gold Ferry back to San Francisco
  8. Walk down Pier 39: Chowders and Sea Lion Colony
  9. Playing old arcade games at Musée Mécanique
  10. Back to the start: Aquatic Park, Ghirardelli Square, Fort Mason, and Palace of Fine Arts
  11. Dinner at Ramen Izakaya Goku

1. Katz Bagel breakfast in Dolores Park

  • Duration: 30 minutes

I got to the city earlier than I planned so I went to Katz Bagels in the Mission for breakfast. I got a toasted sesame bagel with whitefish salad, onions, capers, and a slice of tomato.

  • Cost: $4.75

The weather this morning was absolutely gorgeous and so I went to the top of Dolores Park to eat my bagel. I didn’t take a picture of the bagel, but I did take a picture of my view for breakfast.

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It was such a nice view that I took a 10 minute meditation break. Meditation is a relatively new habit for me, but it’s great for clearing my head and getting focused in the morning.

2. Rent bikes at Sports Basement

  • Duration: 10 minutes

After breakfast I drove north through the city and into the Presidio. There are lots of places to rent bikes in the city, but I chose the Sports Basement because I leave my car here all day without worrying about parking.  I met up with Sun and we rented bikes for the day. Sports Basement charges $25 for a full day rental, or $15 for 3 hours. I jokingly asked the associate if Sun could rent a children’s bike since she’s a tiny Asian girl. Sun was not amused.

  • Cost: $25 for a bike, a helmet, and a lock

With our bikes ready and helmets on, we’re ready to start the day!

2. Heading to the bridge: Crissy Field, The Warming Hut, Torpedo Wharf, and Fort Point

  • Duration: 40 minutes

Sports Basement is right next to Crissy Field, which is a large field where people picnic, play with their dogs, and enjoy the view of the bay. We rode our bikes on the San Francisco Bay Trail which is right by the beach.

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Since Sun hadn’t had breakfast, we stopped by The Warming Hut for some food. This is one of the few places that sell food near the bridge. And it’s always wise to start the day with a full stomach.

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In hindsight, I probably should have gotten a sandwich here for later. The next food stop wasn’t for another 3 hours, and we had a long trip up the mountains ahead.

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From The Warming Hut we continued along the beach to Fort Point, which is a old military fort at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The fort is only open on Fri, Sat, and Sun from 10-5pm. We just took a few pictures and headed out.

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Now we begin the climb uphill towards the start of the bridge.

3. Going over the bridge: Golden Gate Bridge PavilionGolden Gate Bridge, and Vista Point

  • Duration: 45 minutes

From Fort Point we headed back to the main road and up the hill to the Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion. Here you can learn a bit of history about the bridge, and play with a model of the bridge that simulates the effects of the wind on the bridge.

The weather today was amazingly clear and I was excited about the views we were about to see.

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You can bike on either the west or the east side of the bridge. But the east side faces the city and has the better views. San Francisco is already starting to look very small from here.

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Fortunately today was not windy at all and I was quite comfortable in a t-shirt going over the bridge. We also stopped several times to take more pictures of the bay. I do love the new pano feature for the iPhone camera.

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It always amazes me how tall Sutro Tower actually is. You can see it from practically from anywhere in the bay.

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Once over the bridge we went to Vista Point to take more photos. Here we encountered the hordes of Asian tourists and their tour buses. I’m glad I don’t have to be stuck on a bus while traveling in a new city.

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We made sure to take a bathroom break here before starting our climb up the Marin Headlands.

4. Bike up the Marin Headlands: Hawk Hill and Battery Spencer

  • Duration: 2 hours

My friend Jennifer heard that I was going over the bridge and recommended going up to Hawk Hill. It’s one of her favorite spots in the city. I hadn’t heard of Hawk Hill before but it sounded like an interesting adventure. Watch out for the prancing reindeer!

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What do you know! We actually ran into a couple of deers. It looked like a mom with a fawn.

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The ride up to Hawk Hill was super tough! I had to walk my bike at least half the way. Sun was also struggling but she was being a trooper and didn’t complain.

The whole ride/hike took us nearly an hour. But then we were greeted with this amazing view.

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It was incredible how clear of a day it was. San Francisco is rarely ever this clear. It’s probably because of the drought California is dealing with. So enjoy these views while you still can! I do hope the drought ends soon…

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From the top of Hawk Hill you can see the entire Marin Headlands area. Down to the right you can see Rodeo Lagoon and Rodeo Cove.

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Hawk Hill got its name because every autumn tens of thousands of hawks and other large birds fly through this area. This is a very popular spot for bird watchers. They even keep track of the size of the birds they’ve seen here.

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At the very top of Hawk Hill we met a group of bird watchers. They were working as a team to spot specific birds. I felt very much like a muggle walking around them. I couldn’t understand half of what they were saying to each other.

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Going down from Hawk Hill was a lot more fun. There wasn’t much vehicle traffic so I went down the hill as fast as I dared. I probably got up to at least 30 mph at some points. What a thrill!

On the way down we stopped by Battery Spencer, which used to be home to 3 large artillery guns protecting the entrance to San Francisco Bay.

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The views here of the Golden Gate Bridge were spectacular. Doesn’t this look like a postcard? This is one of the most popular places to shoot pics of the bridge.

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At this point I was definitely regretting not bringing a sandwich with me for lunch. So we headed straight into Sausalito towards the taco shop.

5. Lunch in Sausalito: Sausalito Taco ShopLappert’s Ice Cream

  • Duration: 1.5 hours

I learned of Sausalito Taco Shop from my friend Ronny from New York. He and his wife recently biked the bridge and stopped here for lunch.

After 3 hours of riding, I was ready for a drink. I was glad to see michelada on the menu. I learned of this drink while traveling in Mexico, and now it’s one of my favorites. It’s spicy, salty, and sour. I think of it as a poor man’s bloody mary.

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Sun had a taste of my michelada and absolutely hated it. I guess it’s not for everyone. She went with a Sprite instead.

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I ordered the fish, shrimp, and pork tacos. The marinated pork taco was by far the best. The taco shop also makes their own salsas which were pretty solid.

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After lunch we biked around Sausalito checking out the town. We stopped at the ice cream shop for a scoop.

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I went with a scoop of the Date Casablanca. It is made with vanilla ice cream, caramel, and dried dates. Highly recommended.

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After the ice cream we headed to the ferry terminal.

6. Ride the Blue & Gold Ferry back to San Francisco

  • Duration: 30 minutes

There are two ferry companies serving Sausalito, Golden Gate Ferry and Blue & Gold Ferry. The Golden Gate ferry goes to the Ferry Building and the Blue & Gold ferry goes to Fisherman’s Wharf.

We caught the 3:45pm Blue & Gold ferry back to Fisherman’s Wharf. The ferry is a great way to see the city and the bridges from the bay. You can even buy drinks on the ferry. It was nice to head back to SF while watching the sun starting to set over the Golden Gate Bridge.

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The ferry goes pretty close to Alcatraz, giving us a nice photo op.

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Views of the city and the bay bridge as we pulled into Fisherman’s Wharf.

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  • Cost: $11

Protip: You can pay for the Blue & Gold ferry using your Clipper card

From Fisherman’s Wharf we headed to pier 39.

7. Walk down Pier 39: Chowders and Sea Lion Colony

  • Duration: 25 minutes

Sun has never had clam chowder before, so we headed down Pier 39 to Chowders for a bowl.

They also serve the clam chowder in a bread bowl, but we were still full from the tacos and this was plenty.

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Next we went to see the sea lions at the Sea Lion Colony. There weren’t many sea lions today. But the few that were there made plenty of noise.

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We continued our bike journey down Fisherman’s Wharf towards an old arcade I had heard a lot about.

8. Playing old arcade games at Musée Mécanique

  • Duration: 20 minutes

Musée Mécanique is an arcade that has all types of classic arcade machines. I’ve always been a big fan of arcades and this place sounded fun.

This greeted us as we walked in. Was this made to entertain or to scare children?

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The arcade has a combination of very old mechanical arcades and old video arcades. I sucked pretty bad at the baseball game to the right.

I can see the inspiration for Rock’em Sock’em Robots

25 cent Skeeball?! Hell yes!

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I had a great time here but Sun was not very interested in old arcades. So we hopped back on our bikes and moved on.

9. Back to Sports Basement: Aquatic Park, Ghirardelli Square, Fort Mason, and Palace of Fine Arts

  • Duration: 1 hour

The sun had set and we were getting tired, so we decided to bike back to Sports Basement. But we would stop by a few places for photos along the way. First stop was Aquatic Park.

Sun’s bike chain fell off around Ghirardelli square. Fortunately I was able to fix it. Otherwise we would have had to walk her bike 2 miles back to Sports Basement. Crisis averted!

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The bike ride back along Marina Boulevard was quite pleasant. The road is completely flat and smooth. We also had some good night time views of the bay. Unfortunately it was too dark for my camera to take photos.

We stopped by the Palace of Fine Arts to take some night time photos. It was fairly empty and quite fun to bike around the lake and through the columns at night.

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We returned our bikes at Sports Basement and concluded our day long bike adventure. Next up was dinner. Sun was in the mood for ramen so we headed back to the Mission.

10. Ramen dinner at Ramen Izakaya Goku

  • Duration: 45 minutes

Ramen Izakaya Goku is one of the newer ramen shops in the city. I like them because they are 1 block away from my old apartment. We started with the takoyaki. I just learned that the bonito flakes on top of the takoyaki is actually made from dried preserved fish. All this time I had thought it was some kind of vegetable.

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I went with the extra spicy tonkatsu ramen with extra chashu pork. The pork was nice and fatty, and the noodles were firm. The broth was a bit milky for my taste, but that didn’t stop me from wolfing it down.

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  • Cost: ~$20 including tip

That concludes Andy and Sun’s day of fun. I headed back to Mountain View with a full belly and a head full of beautiful views. Not a bad way to end the day.

How the day went: 

I thought the day went about as well as I could have hoped. I got to check off a bunch of items on my SF bucket list, and I got some great photos of the bridge and the bay. Hawk Hill was a serious challenge, but we conquered it and it was a great workout.

If I were to do the day over, I would make the following changes:

  • Start the day a little earlier. We didn’t get our bikes till about 11 am. Starting before 10 would have given us more time to hangout in Sausalito.
  • Get a sandwich to go before crossing the bridge. That way we could have had lunch on top of Hawk Hill which would have been nice.
  • Know the ferry schedule ahead of time. We took the 3:45 ferry back to SF. Taking an earlier ferry would have given us more time along Fisherman’s Wharf.
  • Get bike lights. We biked the last portion of the day without lights. Lights would have made the ride easier and safer.

Again, here’s a handy map of all the attractions, restaurants, and bars I visited in this post: Map

If you enjoyed this post, please check out the other Andy’s Days of Fun here

What did you think of this tour? What did I miss? What would you have done differently? Please share it in the comments. I’d love to hear what you have to say.