Rent a Go Car in San Francisco
I lived in San Francisco for 4 years and always saw cute little yellow GoCars riding around my neighborhood, but it wasn't until 4 years after I left this beautiful city that I finally rode in one. If you’re visiting San Francisco, this is a great activity for your first day. It will give you an idea of all the city has to offer by introducing you to parts of the city you may not have otherwise seen!
Tip: You can rent these near Union Square or Fisherman’s Wharf
GoCar is a GPS guided tour of San Francisco. You get this awesome little car with a voice recording that tells you where to go, and talks to you about the sites along the way. We took the Golden Gate Park loop (The Red Route). I recommend this route because it takes you to almost almost all the famous sights of San Francisco. Give yourself plenty of time to stop throughout the day.
Here are all the things you can see along the Red Route Tour (You can choose some detours to see Haight Ashbury, The Painted Ladies, and Twin Peaks. These are all famous stops when visiting San Francisco):
Fisherman's Wharf & Pier 39
The tour begins in Fishermans Wharf. After living in SF for 4 years, this is my least favorite part of the city, but tourists still flock to it. Sea food, a pier, some seals… there is better food and ambiance throughout the city, but if you have kids, I see the draw because it has an aquarium and street performers. You can also grab a sourdough chowder bowl at the famous Boudin Bakery before or after your tour.
You’ll pass by Fort Mason on the way to the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s a former U.S. Army post along the northern bay. There are a few restaurants, stores, workshops and classes, and even festivals held here. If you’re looking for a nice lunch overlooking the Bay go to Greens in this complex.
The Marina District & Crissy Field
Drive through the Marina District overlooking the north bay and the Golden Gate Bridge then pass through Crissy Field. This is a former U.S. Army airfield that is now a recreation area. It’s right below the Golden Gate bridge and occasionally holds art exhibitions in the former army buildings.
Stop at Baker Beach to see the Pacific Ocean and to check out the Golden Gate Bridge from the western side. Most people only view the Golden Gate Bridge from the east.
The Legion of Honor
This is a beautiful fine arts museum with art from some of the most influential painters and sculptors. Swing by to see the facade, or stop and explore the museum.
The three acres baths were opened in 1894 as the world's largest indoor swimming pool establishment. Now it lies in ruins along the Pacific Coastline. Stop here to explore the ruins, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, go on a short 3.4 mile hike to Land’s End. The views from this hike of the Pacific Ocean and Golden Gate Bridge are stunning.
The Cliff House
The Cliff House is a historic building overlooking the Pacific that was a restaurant for a very long time until its closure during the 2020 pandemic. There are rumors this year (2022) that it will be reopened as a restaurant once again. I hope so!
This beach is along the Pacific Ocean, but don’t expect sunny skies. It’s usually foggy here. You can park and explore the coastline for a quick stop. Or if it is sunny, take advantage and soak in the rays of sunshine.
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park is endless, with gardens, museums, even some buffalo reside here! The park is a whopping 1,017 acres of public grounds. I’d recommend spending your time here making the Go Car stops to get a lay of the land, then coming back to spend a full day checking out the gardens and museums. My favorite is the California Academy of Sciences.
Palace of Fine Arts
Drive by the massive Palace of Fine Arts structure, originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in order to exhibit works of art presented there.
On your way back, you’ll drive through a former military post, with forested areas and historical buildings.
Drive down what is claimed to be "the crookedest street in the world.” This one block section of Lombard Street has eight hairpin turns. It’s really fun to do in these small cars! It might be more intimidating in a normal sized vehicle.
Here are a few of the tours you can book.
The one outlined in this post is the GoCar 3-Hour Tour of San Francisco's Parks and Beaches.