San Francisco is the cultural and financial hub of northern California. The city was named after a Spanish Saint Francis of Assisi and its history goes all the way back to the middle of the 18th century. The city gained popularity and notoriety when it became a major launching point for the gold rush in the 19th century, welcoming thousands of prospectors, and men of fortune from all around the country.
It should be said that the gold wasn’t the only precious commodity found around San Francisco. It didn’t take long for newcomers to notice the “golden” location of the city – its proximity to the ocean, a bay, beautiful scenery, and a plethora of hills. All these features created the perfect incubator for a small town to sprawl into a major metropolis. While exploring San Francisco, you may get the feeling that you are visiting several cities at once. The constantly changing landscape, a wide abundance of points of interest and curiosities, all these things will highly saturate your adventure, creating the illusion that you have managed to cram weeks worth of adventures into a single stretch.
So, what are you waiting for? San Fran’s Golden Gate is open!
A Dog-Friendly Tourist Guide to San Francisco – Routes and Landmarks
We will begin our journey with the iconic Golden Gate bridge. Often dubbed as the “Gates to California”, and it isn’t hard to realize why. The bridge is grandiose and monumental during the day and becomes magnificent during sunsets or sunrises, when the sun illuminates the entire structure. The bridge can often be seen in pop-culture, but movies don’t do it justice; its hard to convey the scale of the bridge on-screen. The Golden Gate bridge is massive, nearly three kilometers in length, and is the perfect location to begin our acquaintance with San Francisco.
Just over the Golden Gate Bridge is our next stop – the Presidio of San Francisco, a national park situated over the cite of former 18th century Spanish fortifications. The grounds are dotted with various pedestrian and cycling trails, with the most popular being the ones that are by the water. We recommend going for a short walk with your canine friend to take in the beauty of this place.
Interestingly, not far from the Bay area, there is also a park called Golden Gate, which is one of the favourite places for the locals. The abundance of greenery and walkways here will be enjoyable to both you and your furry friend. Another noteworthy feature of the Golden Gate Park is the Japanese Tea Garden. Initially, the place was managed by a Japanese gardener Makoto Hagiwara, passing over time to his daughter. With the onset of World War II and the growing anti-Japanese sentiment, the then caretaker of the gardens Takano Hagiwara (daughter of Makoto) and her children were sent to an interment camp and their property seized. They were never allowed to return and were never reimbursed for the seizure of their property. Some of the original Japanese structures were torn down and original Japanese workers replaced by Chinese workers wearing traditional Japanese clothes. After the peace treaty, the Garden was reconciliated and is currently the oldest Japanese Garden in the United States.
After this brief foray into nature and history, we are going to dive head long into the busy live of the metropolis. Our next stop is the heart of San Francisco – Union Square. The area of the square is surrounded by shopping centers, boutiques, hotels, salons, and galleries. Standing here you can quite literally feel the “blood flow” of the city, with hundreds of people constantly moving about, street musicians playing catchy tunes, cafes filling the air with delicious aromas and the souvenir shops beckoning you to wander inside.
Next, let’s head to Lombard Street, another unofficial symbol of the city. It is important to keep in mind that San Fran is situated on 47 different hills, so city exploration resembles something of a rollercoaster ride. You don’t feel it as much on public transit, but if you are using a car, it will take a fair bit of skill and agility to comfortably maneuver around the city. Even the most skilled driver will be hard pressed to relax while driving on Lombard Street. This small stretch is road is situated on the Russian Hill and descends rather sharply through a winding serpentine. The flowers and red bricks that the road is paved with add a unique flavor to the whole ordeal.
Another must see location is the China Town. Starting from a city block, it grew to encompass a whole district of San Fran with its own culture and infrastructure. Over the last half a century this place became a home to many different nationalities and ethnicities. The atmosphere around here radiates with Oriental cultures and traditional Chinese lights hang everywhere. Little stalls sell food and spices, numerous souvenir shops offer Eastern-style mementos. As it typically goes, the San Francisco China Town is a popular area, not only amongst tourists, but locals alike.
During the early 20th century San Francisco was struck by a massive earthquake that destroyed a significant portion of the historical structures and forced the city to rebuild practically from the ground up. Some Victorian era houses did remain, however, and became a local tourist attraction. We recommend visiting Hob Hill and checking out the “Painted Ladies” - picturesque houses of different colors with exquisite decorations. Some have small spires; others have carved verandas and spacious balconies. These buildings convey a sense of calmness and tranquility, doubly so when you notice that they are situated in the middle of a busy metropolis. The houses are located close to a little park that is a pleasant location for a walk with your furry friend.
Despite the city being located on a highly active seismic zone, it didn’t stop the local architects from planning and designing some daring and beautiful structures. One such example is the Grace Cathedral, which was built over a span of fifty years. Considering the high likelihood of earthquakes, the building’s facades were left intentionally flat to minimize potential risk of flying objects during a shake. This does not take away from the building’s form, however, and it still looks like a majestic neogothic cathedral. Numerous stained-glass windows, frescoes, high ceilings and massive bronze gates seemingly transport us to a place and time far away. Grace Cathedral looks exceptionally beautiful during the evenings when its night lights turn on.
In 1915 San Francisco hosted the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (an architectural fair). One of the exhibits in the fair was the so called “Tower of Jewels”. The locals loved the structure so much that they asked the local authorities to build one in the city. Luckily for the guests of San Francisco, the authorities did indeed keep some sections of the tower, creating an open arched colonnade, surrounding it with an artificial pond and park. The locals called it the Palace of Fine Arts, since its elegant architecture inspires and dazzles the imagination with its beauty and harmony.
San Francisco is full of beautiful districts and even more beautiful parks, but we are not done with the city yet. Not until we visit the Lands End Trail! This small trail is located on the northwestern tip of San Fran and winds around the shore rocks, overgrown with thickets of cypresses and eucalyptus. The trail ends with a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean, the Bay, and the Golden Gate bridge. This is an amazing place for a walk with your pet, giving you both an excellent opportunity to take in the fresh oceanic air while enjoying the view.
After a long and exhausting day, you will probably want to head back into town for some much-needed rest. We have compiled a list of some dog-friendly hotels where you can comfortably stay with your pet.
Dog-Friendly Hotels in San Francisco
The Hyatt Regency San Francisco Downtown SOMA is a dog-friendly hotel that will welcome you with exquisite design and comfortable rooms that include everything you need for a pleasant stay. The hotel will even provide your pet with a little bed!
The hotel is in direct proximity to a few excellent restaurants that feature traditional California dishes. Union Square and Yerba Buena Gardens are both a brief five-minute walk away and the Ghirardelli Square is only four kilometers away.
When planning on staying that the Hyatt Regency with your four-legged companion, make sure your pet’s weight does not exceed 18 kilograms and note that the hotel will collect a solitary pet surcharge of $150.
The Triton hotel is a true oasis of inspiration for the creative types. The hotel features artistic fantasies of numerous local San Francisco artists, creating a unique composition of contemporary art.
Elegant decorations and paintings, unique design and an atmosphere of creativity all combine with the remarkable pleasantness of its staff, who will not only greet you, but offer you some fresh coffee, fruits, or sweets.
Due its convenient location, the hotel is only a couple minutes away form Union Square or China Town.
Another bonus of this hotel is that there are no additional fees for your pet to accompany you!
This dog-friendly hotel is a traditional lodge in the fullest meaning of that word. Located right beside Union Square, the hotel enables rapid access to the city center and all its surrounding points of interest. There are several great places for dog-walks in the area, one of which is the route to Oracle Park, which is located just twenty minutes away.
The suites come with a safe for your valuables, air conditioning, a TV, your own bathroom, and a living area. The hotel also features a bar and an open-air terrace.
The hotel only allows pets that weigh no more than 22 kilograms to accompany you. If your pet does indeed join you at the hotel, there will be a nightly surcharge of $65 and a $150 returnable damage deposit. The hotel staff will provide your pet with cute food and water bowls upon request.
This hotel is in the city center, three kilometers away from North Beach. This is also, coincidentally, a great place for pet walks!
The first thing the hotel visitors will notice is its majestic vestibule, a large fireplace, and a beautiful staircase. Right beside the front desk area of the hotel is a comfortable lobby where you can pick yourself up a cup of delicious coffee.
The hotel suites are decorated with environmentally friendly materials and are designed to follow the French-style guidelines. The hotel amenities include all the usuals as well as some extra bits to ensure a truly comfortable stay.
The hotel will collect a solitary pet surcharge of $75, should you decide to stay here with your four-legged companion.
The Arbi Union Square hotel is an excellent choice if you want to combine eventful walks and quality rest. Due its pleasant locations, you won’t have to spend much time getting around to all the points of interest. Union Square, the Moscone Center, San Francisco City Hall and Coit Tower are all a brief walk away.
The hotel has a pleasantly warm atmosphere, wooden finished walls, cozy lighting, and comfortable suites. All of this combines to create an excellent feeling of relaxation and calmness.
The hotel will not allow pets larger than 27 kilograms to stay with you and will collect a solitary pet surcharge of $75 for the entire duration of your stay.
San Francisco is a city that attracts tourists from all around the world. Its hills hide an extravagant amount of beauty and landmarks, enough to fill many days with exploration. Even if you don’t stay here for months or even weeks, this city will remain in your memory long after you have left it.
Come to San Francisco with your dog, let the fresh Pacific Ocean air fill you with ease and joy of freedom!
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