You will never want to leave. I repeat you will never ever want to leave. I can swear by this because it’s true, San Francisco is a beautiful magical place. If I weren’t handcuffed to UNC Charlotte until I graduate, my fall break adventure would have become my fall break forever. Okay so that was a little corny but you get the gist; Upper California is a dream come true. The weather is perfect, the people are nice, the food is amazing and places like Napa Valley or beautiful Convoy Beach are nothing but a mere hour away.
My trip was amazing and I loved every moment of it but I did notice significant differences of California Living compared to living in the south. Here are the things no one tells you about San Fran and its surrounding areas.
- Calling my shopaholics! Be aware that malls aren’t really a thing there. Of course there are stores but they are on a smaller scale and usually locally owned. It’s still really cool but I just think they don’t have enough room or level ground for a mall. There are some outlets near Napa but they don’t have many stores. Local shops are really nice though but they might be on the pricier side.
- You will at some point drive at a ninety-degree angle up a hill. Luckily your car won’t flip over and somehow you will survive the steep drive but it will happen without a doubt. About a year ago UNCC’s campus had a similar hill before construction workers connected Phillips road to Craver. We used to have a steep-ish hill that faced Woodward Hall and it was always such a drag to get a red light coming from the engineering side of campus because that meant you were stuck on the hill. If you know what I’m talking about then just know that the hills in San Fran are like the Campus hill; except it’s on steroids.
- You will get lost. It doesn’t matter if you have GPS on, you will get lost. The thing about roads in San Fran is that they pop up out of nowhere and aren’t particularly straight and also exits on the highway aren’t numbered so your GPS will tell you to exit on exit 5 that’s in 1000 ft and you’ll look up to a random road that just pops off the highway. There won’t be a sign and you’ll probably miss the exit and it will be hell to try to get on track.
- Okay this is the last point I will make about transportation in San Fran. Honking. Beep, Beep, Beeeeeeeep. Get used to that noise and try to calm your road rage because in San Fran everyone puts their horn to use. People honestly honk for no reason, the light will have turned green not even a millisecond before and you will get honked at. Try not to let the honking get to you because its just the norm there, people are actually super relaxed, I guess there is just something really empowering about honking the horn.
- The Golden Gate Bridge is to die for and driving on it is even cooler than looking at it. The views are amazing but be aware that there is a toll. Obviously it is well worth it but often a lot of people don’t know.
- Fisherman’s Wharf in San Fran is tourist central and you will get tricked into giving away money. There are people that prey on tourist’s stupidity and they often get crafty. My friends and I gave away five dollars to some guy that came up to us and pressured us to donate to a “soup kitchen” he had a badge and everything which we later found out was fake. He gave us stickers and made us sign something and then he was off. When we turned around someone was shaking his head at us in defeat and we knew we had been played. Nonetheless Fisherman’s Wharf is fun and you can take trips to Alcatraz from Pier 32 but be very careful and watchful of those who are specifically there to prey on tourists.
- Alcatraz is very popular and it’s not one of those things where you buy a ferry ride to the island on the day of. It’s not a spur of the moment type of thing, you have to plan the trip weeks in advance and get your tickets just as early. Alcatraz is the infamous island prison that held Al Capone. The tour is said to be a very fun experience but you must get your tickets weeks in advance because it will be sold out. I unfortunately didn’t know that and tried to get my tickets day of and I was told it was to be sold out for the next three weeks. Plan ahead, do not be spontaneous.
- Another thing no one tells you about San Fran and its surrounding areas is that the weather is weird and almost no one has air conditioning. It will be cold in the morning, perfect temperatures in the afternoon, and cold again at night. There isn’t really a lot of wind or breeze, and the fog is on another level in the mornings and evenings. Some Uber’s even refuse to go to certain areas of San Fran because the fog gets so bad and they can’t see. There is pretty much no need for AC in San Fran because of its natural cooling system. So if you’re looking for an Airbnb and see that it has no AC do not panic because it really is unnecessary if anything you’ll need a space heater.
- Speaking of Napa, it is only an hour away from San Fran and there is a Wine/Dinner Train. It’s a little expensive but I’ve heard it’s well worth it, of course I can’t say from experience because I’m not 21 yet but what better place to get Wine and food then in Wine Country. Also visit places like Yountville, which is a cute little town off the side of the highway with vineyards and restaurants galore.
- If you’re thinking about moving to San Fran live in the gorgeous Berkeley area. It’s safe, quiet, beautiful, but also bustling with life and excitement. I stayed in Berkeley and it was wonderful I could go into the town center for nightlife or for food or I could stay on the quieter side and relax in the hot tub. I truly felt like a queen.
If you can’t tell I am absolutely dying to go back and I encourage everyone to add it to their travel list. It’s an absolute must see, I haven’t been back more than four days and I am already dying to go back. Pack that duffle bag and catch the red eye for me; Happy Exploring!