Looking for a fun way to explore San Francisco? While on a 4-day San Francisco itinerary, we discovered that driving around the streets of San Francisco in a yellow three-wheeled GoCar is such a blast.
These talking cars are a great way to discover the city.
My husband and I are a strange sight.
Bundled up in bulky windcheaters and wearing safety helmets, people stare and point.
Riding in a GoCar is not exactly the most romantic thing to do in San Francisco for two but it sure is fun!
I swear one driver follows us around for a few blocks.
They’re probably debating the pros and cons of being in a bright yellow Go Car, which is a three-wheeled, two-passenger vehicle.
Think of it as a hybrid motorcycle cum golf cart.
At first, from my seat close to the ground, the cars and buses are huge and intimidating.
The city that offers all forms of transport – including pedicabs, ferry boats and cable cars – and fortunately the drivers that share the road are considerate of crazy tourists willing to give these GoCars a whirl.
Driving a San Francisco Go Car in traffic
With a 50cc engine and a top speed of 48 kilometres per hour, it’s difficult to do a lot of damage in one of these vehicles and fortunately, there is an unwritten road rule that Go Car drivers have the right of way, yes even over taxis.
By our second intersection, it’s clear to us we’re king of the road as all traffic waits patiently for us to putter across intersections.
Talking GoCars in San Francisco are great fun!
”If you wish to visit East Beach, turn right at the entrance.
If not, continue straight,” offers a polished voice from two speakers mounted under the dashboard.
We look at each other wondering if East Beach is worth a stop.
As if reading our minds, Peggy Sue (yes, we’ve named our virtual guide!) tells us she would love to show us around East Beach.
We learn there are beautiful views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge.
What you will see on a GoCar Tour
East Beach is our first stop on a tour that takes us through some of San Francisco’s local neighbourhoods.
Set along the edge of Crissy Field, a recreation area within the Golden Gate National Park with a windswept shoreline, East Beach is one of the many vantage points of the Golden Gate Bridge along the route.
In the foreground, residents walk their dogs along the sand while Alcatrez Island is a mysterious apparition in the distance.
Best view on the GoCar Tour route
My favourite spot is from the hilltop at Battery Cranston.
This scenic spot is where the city’s artists come to paint the Golden Gate Bridge.
Peggy Sue gives us gems of information.
We pass through the neighbourhood where Robin Williams once lived and that liquefaction caused damage in the Marina District during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
Flying down Lombard Street
It’s fun rolling down Lombard Street, which incidentally is not the most crooked street in San Francisco as most people would believe.
Lombard Street has eight sharp switchbacks built to reduce the hill’s natural 27° slope.
With the weight of two adults, the Go Car’s 50 cubic-centimetre roaring two-stroke engine struggles to tackle some of the hills but that just adds to the fun.
A couple of times we wonder if we’ll actually make it up the hill!
On the climb from the breakers at Fort Point to the Presidio, as the passenger, I jump out just below the crest of the hill to lighten the load and the car just makes it up the steep incline.
The people in the car behind me are laughing so hard I can almost hear them.
Anyway, looking on the bright side, it sure beats riding a bicycle in San Francisco.
The Pacific Ocean
”Check that view out, man!” says Peggy Sue as we swing around a corner. The Pacific Ocean and Ocean Beach lies before us.
Peggy Sue instructs us to park at the bottom of the hill to walk down to the ocean.
We drive through the quiet, tree-lined streets of Presidio Heights admiring the palatial homes and gardens.
The Presidio is a National Historic Landmark District which was originally a fort built in 1776. It became home to army headquarters for the US Military in 1846.
At the edge of the Presidio, the Palace of Fine Arts is picture-book scene complete with a classical Roman rotunda with curved colonnades, lagoon and green lawns.
We discover it houses the Exploratorium, a public science museum with hands-on exhibits that makes it one of San Francisco’s most popular museums.
As it’s a lovely day, we’re content to park our Go Car by the kerb and lie on the lawn for a while.
The Presidio is one of the stops on the GoCar route
Back on the streets of San Francisco, we squeeze our way through thick traffic along Chestnut Street, a funky shopping area with an eclectic mixture of boutiques, antique shops, bookstores and cafes.
At Peggy Sue’s suggestion, we park our Go Car and head off in search of a cosy café for a well-deserved cappuccino and a bagel.
Other destinations on the route include Golden Gate Park, De Young Museum and the ex-hippy Haight Ashbury District.
But the cherry on the cake is Lombard Street, where we are definitely made to feel like movie stars as groups of camera-toting tourists click away as we wind down the crooked street.
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