If you wish to maximize your time in San Francisco and go to three iconic Northern California locations in in the future, contemplate the Alcatraz with Muir Woods and Sausalito tour Viator presents. On a current journey to San Francisco, I took this tour and located it to be a superb use of my restricted time.
The journey begins with a fast cease for photographs on the Golden Gate Bridge, a marvel of engineering and an emblem of town. From there, you may proceed to Muir Woods Nationwide Monument to stroll amongst a few of the oldest and tallest redwood timber, experiencing the pure great thing about this protected forest.
Lunch is spent in Sausalito, an enthralling coastal city providing informal eating choices. The tour concludes with an epic go to to Alcatraz Island, accessible by a brief ferry trip from town. The self-guided excursions of this former jail provide an interesting and immersive expertise.
Now that I’ve shared the highlights, I would prefer to share extra about every exercise on Viator’s tour.
San Francisco Bay Space Tour
The small group tour started round 8:15 a.m. after we checked in with our information and van driver on the assembly level within the Union Sq. space in downtown San Francisco. Departure time was 8:30 a.m. sharp.
After fast introductions, we drove northwest to the Golden Gate Bridge. Our first cease was the Palace of Positive Arts for a photograph. The Greco-Roman palace is visually enticing, and I am glad we bought out of the luxurious tour van there, even when we did not have time to stroll round it.
We continued throughout the fog-covered Golden Gate Bridge to the H. Dana Bowers Relaxation Space & Vista Level. A number of years earlier, I visited San Francisco briefly earlier than a trip in Oahu and noticed the bridge from the south facet. This was my first time seeing it from the north.
It was a few 20-minute drive from the Golden Gate Bridge to the parking zone at Muir Woods.
Muir Woods Nationwide Monument
Muir Woods Nationwide Monument, situated about 12 miles north of San Francisco, is a surprising forest reserve dwelling to towering coast redwood timber. President Theodore Roosevelt designated the realm as a nationwide monument on January 9, 1908.
The title pays homage to John Muir, a naturalist and environmental thinker who was instrumental in establishing the Nationwide Parks system in the USA.
Strolling amongst California’s redwoods has been excessive on my agenda for years. Seeing these grand, centuries-old timber more and more threatened by the extraordinary wildfires introduced on by world warming turned this exercise from “would not or not it’s good” to “I have to see this pure marvel earlier than it is gone.”
So it was with that sense of urgency that I walked by means of the doorway gate to Muir Woods Nationwide Monument with one other gentleman I would been chatting with on the van. We got 60 minutes of free time to wander the park’s trails at our personal tempo.
The hour afforded us sufficient time to stroll the Redwood Creek Path to Bridge 4 and return alongside the Hillside Path and Bohemian Path. Based on a Nationwide Park Service map, this route is 2 miles lengthy and takes about 90 minutes.
Alongside the way in which north to Bridge 4, we walked by means of the hovering redwoods of the Founders Grove and Cathedral Grove. It was my first time being amongst these giants, and I used to be awe-struck by their enormity.
These giants usually are not simply tall however historical—some are over 800 years previous. Apparently, coast redwoods can develop over 370 toes tall, making them the tallest timber on Earth. However in addition they have a shallow root system, typically solely 6 to 12 toes deep.
These timber are extremely resilient and might reside for greater than 2,000 years. Their bark comprises tannic acids, which make them resistant to fireplace, bugs, and illness.
Sadly for the redwoods, the growing depth of the wildfires burning within the twenty first century put them at higher danger than wildfires of the previous.
The time period “mature” could be relative when discussing coast redwoods, on condition that these timber can reside for over 2,000 years. Nevertheless, coast redwoods are typically thought-about mature once they attain about 50 to 100 years previous.
By this age, they’ve sometimes achieved a considerable top and have a well-developed root system that permits them to entry the water and vitamins they want for development. In addition they start to provide cones that include seeds for replica round this age.
It is value noting that these timber can develop fairly quickly below the appropriate circumstances. In optimum environments, coast redwoods have been recognized to develop as much as two toes per 12 months, particularly throughout their earlier years.
So, whereas they could take many a long time to mature totally, their spectacular top could be achieved comparatively shortly of their life span.
I hope everybody who reads this story can expertise the serenity provided by a stroll by means of Muir Woods within the presence of those exceptional timber.
The 8-mile drive south to Sausalito for lunch took about 25 minutes.
Sausalito is a picturesque seaside city in Marin County, throughout the Golden Gate Strait from San Francisco. Identified for its Mediterranean-like local weather and laid-back environment, the city presents an enthralling respite from large metropolis life.
Nestled between steep, rolling hills and the calm waters of Richardson Bay, Sausalito has lengthy been a refuge for artists, sailors, and people seeking to escape the city grind.
Houseboats are notably well-liked right here, although the prices to personal and keep them have risen sharply within the final decade. At this time, they’re extra prone to be owned by tech entrepreneurs than artists.
The waterfront is lined with boutique retailers, artwork galleries, and varied eating choices starting from informal eateries to upscale eating places.
The Apple TV+ collection The Last Thing He Told Me, starring Jennifer Garner, was set and partially filmed in Sausalito.
After shortly strolling alongside the Boardwalk to take a look at the sailboats, I returned to the city middle to seek out meals. The itinerary for the Alcatraz with Muir Woods and Sausalito tour afforded us one hour for lunch at our personal leisure, however it’s lower than that if you wish to have time to stroll round as properly.
I settled on the Napa Valley Burger Company, which served me a scrumptious burger in lower than 20 minutes. The entire price, together with tax and tip, was about $25.
Afterward, I walked throughout the road to Lappert’s Ice Cream for a scoop of creamy mocha chocolate chip ice cream.
It took us about half-hour to drive the 9 miles from the quaint city of Sausalito to Pier 33 for our afternoon journey.
As soon as our tour information/van driver dropped us off at Pier 33 on the Embarcadero with directions on boarding the 1:05 p.m. ferry to Alcatraz Island utilizing our digital Alcatraz tickets, we have been on our personal.
Our third and closing expertise of the tour was additionally the longest. I spent 2.5 hours whole; nonetheless, you could possibly select your return ferry, so those that wished to spend extra time on the island had that possibility.
Alcatraz Island, situated in San Francisco Bay, is an American landmark steeped in historical past. Typically referred to easily as “The Rock,” the island is most infamous for its federal jail, which operated from 1934 to 1963.
Alcatraz was designed to deal with America’s most harmful criminals. It turned notorious as a spot from which escape was thought-about not possible as a result of treacherous currents and chilly waters surrounding it.
Amongst its most well-known former inmates have been Al Capone, Robert Stroud (the “Birdman of Alcatraz”), and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.
Although the jail has lengthy been closed, its mystique endures. At this time, the island is a vacationer attraction the place guests can discover the previous jail amenities and study its fascinating historical past, together with its earlier use as a army fortification and its occupation by Native American activists within the late Nineteen Sixties.
The ferry trip took about 20 minutes every method. Upon arrival on the island, I picked up the “Doing Time” self-guided audio tour (no further price). I am not often a giant fan of audio guides, however I discovered this Alcatraz tour compelling.
The narration of the cellhouse audio excursions is supplied by a handful of former convicts, every of whom guides you thru the previous federal jail whereas sharing what it was prefer to be incarcerated there.
You may study of escape makes an attempt and notable characters among the many jail inhabitants and workers. Apart from the tiny cells, one of the vital intriguing facets of the complicated was the yard, the place prisoners may get recent air and train.
At first look, once you stroll out, it appears to be like foreboding with the excessive partitions and barbed wire fencing designed to maintain folks in. However stroll all the way down to the grassy space the place there’s nonetheless a house plate, and also you get a bit distance from the constructing, and it feels a bit totally different.
There is a dwelling plate within the filth, and it is not laborious to image prisoners taking part in baseball to move the time. I used to be there on a transparent, near-perfect day, so I knew I used to be seeing Alcatraz at its greatest.
Ferries depart Alcatraz Island for Pier 33 on the mainland each half-hour, so it is easy to catch a return trip. I took the three:10 p.m. ferry again and was handled to wonderful views of the San Francisco skyline.
The tour lasted about 9 hours, from 8:30 a.m. to five:30 p.m., and is well-suited for unbiased vacationers.
I toasted the conclusion of a implausible day with an Irish espresso at The Buena Vista, the primary place in the USA to serve the nice and cozy whiskey drink.
E-book This Tour
From the long-lasting Golden Gate Bridge to the quiet giants in Muir Woods, the comfy allure of Sausalito, and the eerie attract of Alcatraz, the nation’s most well-known jail—this single tour severely packs a punch.
In case you’re brief on time however large on experiences, I can not advocate the Alcatraz with Muir Woods and Sausalito tour by Viator sufficient. You get a various style of what the San Francisco Bay Space presents, all wrapped up in a single day.
Dave is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Go Backpacking and Feastio. He is been to 66 international locations and lived in Colombia and Peru. Learn the total story of how he turned a journey blogger.