The Bay Area offers so much to explore with such a wide range of activities and attractions that it seems nearly impossible to cover all of them. Though you will likely explore most places with your friends, with clashing schedules and interests, it may be difficult to find a time together for some places of interest you are keen to visit. Thus, you may be inclined to instead set off on your own, as I did for many of the places I wanted to visit. In this blog, I am going to give some advice on travelling alone in San Francisco and some of the places of interest I visited.

Something that is great about travelling alone is that it is free and easy: there is no need to follow a strict schedule to make sure everyone is on track, there is great flexibility in deciding where you want to go and how long you want to stay there without needed to cater to others. I could easily make changes of my plans throughout the day to maximise my own personal enjoyment. Though travelling with friends is very fun and what I did most of the time, every once in a while it is very liberating to go out and do something on your own.

However, you must take note that you are away from our safe home in Singapore, so additional precautions must be taken to ensure your own security and safety. Some safety guidelines I followed are:

  • Always be aware of your surroundings, but do not look paranoid. Try not to listen to music or use noise cancelling headphones when walking around.
  • Check that your valuables are on you every now and then, and if possible do not put them in easy to reach parts of your bag.
  • As far as possible, refrain from travelling at night. If you do, make sure you know exactly where you are going and try to ensure you are on some form of transportation like the bus or train where there are other people. If you have to walk, stay in brightly lit streets and stay away from shady areas.
  • Know your travel route beforehand. Some buses and trains back to Berkeley from San Francisco stop at a certain time, so you can use apps like the AC Transit app or Google Maps to plan your routes when travelling. In particular, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train system ends at Oakland after a certain time at night, which is a city South of Berkeley that is not very safe at night. In that case, you may want to opt for other options such as bus F or an Uber instead.
  • Following the last point, be willing to spend on car hires like Uber and Lyft if you feel you need to to guarantee your safety home.
  • If you are going to places like music venues, there is a small chance that some strangers may offer to buy you a drink, etc. DO NOT take any unknown substances from strangers under any circumstances, and refrain from getting intoxicated yourself. You should always be at full attention and capability when travelling by yourself.
  • And last but not least: Trust your gut. If something feels off or unsafe about a location, even if you can’t pinpoint it, do not hesitate to leave.

While public transport within Berkeley is free with our Clipper card AC transit pass, you have to pay for public transportation in San Francisco. You can still use the same Clipper card, but I recommend topping up in excess of what you think you will need. Keep in mind that the fares are quite a bit more expensive than in Singapore (E.g. US$2.50 for a single bus ride, US$4-6 for a single BART ride). There is also ride-hailing options like Uber and Lyft.

Now, I’d like to share about one of my longer trips in SF which consisted of me heading to Twin Peaks and then the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset.

Twin Peaks

I made my way to Twin Peaks by taking public transportation, and walking up a few roads and trails.

Some of the nice neighborhoods around Twin Peaks on my walk up.
Trail to Twin Peaks

View from the top

Fun story: I asked a random person to help me take a picture, and after he took some he asked another person for a picture with me as well! I met this person maybe 20 seconds before this picture was taken. Goes to show how friendly some people in the US can be!

Golden Gate Bridge

After descending from Twin Peaks, I made my way to the Golden Gate bridge, and took a Lyft across it to get to the Golden Gate viewpoint right at sunset. I managed to get a few nice shots to really show why its called the Golden Gate bridge.

Pictures from Golden Gate Viewpoint

Pictures from Battery Spencer – an old fort now used as a viewpoint. Really shows you how massive the bridge is up close!

I then made my way down and walked across the bridge after dark before grabbing something to eat and making my way home.


Underground Indie Music Scene

If you are a fan of a lot of indie music from small bands, there are a wide range of venues that you can go to to see artists that you might have heard of or listen to. Some of the venues I enjoyed going to (I also went alone for these!) were Bottom of the Hill and Rickshaw Stop in SF, as well as 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley. There are also other venues like Thee Parkside and The New Parish. Be prepared to bring extra cash if you want to buy merch! (I bought a lot as souvenirs.) Here are some of the artists I went to see!

As mentioned earlier, make sure you do NOT take any unknown substances from strangers, and try to refrain from alcohol to make sure you can make your way home safely afterwards at night.

Bottom of the Hill signboard
Horse Jumper of Love at Bottom of the Hill
Carpool Tunnel at Rickshaw Stop
The Rare Occasions at Rickshaw Stop
People in General at 924 Gilman

I hope you found some useful information from me sharing about my trips and interests, and that you too will have a blast when you arrive at Berkeley!

Written by Johan Armstrong

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