Exploring San Francisco, Solo

Photographer Brooke Fitts takes a one-day tour around the West Coast city with the help of Uber.
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Photography: Brooke Fitts

Photography: Brooke Fitts

In Partnership with Uber

As a freelance lifestyle photographer, one of my favorite job perks is that I can weave in a little adventure and extra exploring on the tail end of shoots in different locations. My love of travel is hugely related to my decision to pursue a creative career that I knew would give me a ton of autonomy, flexibility and the ability to work on the go.

I actually enjoy spending a whole day or two completely alone in a new city. I find that sightseeing by myself really inspires me, and I rarely feel lonely. It’s especially nice to stop wherever I’d like (for however long) to take photos without someone waiting on me to finish snapping. I love having my camera with me to soak in the highlights as I go, and this is how most of my travel photography has been captured – just me and my lens in the moment, waiting for that perfect shot.

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So, on recent trip down to San Francisco for work, I decided to add an additional day for a little me time. My plan was to Uber around for a full tour of all that the city had to offer.

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Since I was traveling solo, I wanted to stay somewhere centrally located, where I could walk right out the door into the hub of the action. Just a clean and simple room for a comfortable night’s sleep was fine by me. I booked the Herbert Hotel at the recommendation of a friend who often visits San Francisco by herself.

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Once that was settled, there were a few more experiences I sought out – things I’m generally looking for on trips like these...

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1. I want to experience the city like a local. This generally means finding a coffee or breakfast spot that’s not a chain and is off the tourist trap path. I hit up Mazarine Coffee for a wonderfully strong morning brew, just a five-minute walk from my hotel.

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2. I want to be inspired by the new environment. I wandered over to the SF MoMA to see the Walker Evans photography show. As a photographer myself with a love for the craft, I try to see photo exhibits whenever I have the opportunity. I actually prefer going to museums alone, because I can wander at my own leisure and really take in what I’m seeing wholly without catering to someone else’s timeframe, patience level or agenda.

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3. I want to enjoy a good meal, solo. When I finished at the museum, I caught an Uber right outside and headed to lunch at Zuni Café – a spot I’ve been wanting to try on my last three trips to SF! I did quite a bit of Googling beforehand to make sure it felt like a good spot for eating alone, looking at a few reviews and photos to get a good sense of the environment. I even did a search for good places to eat solo in SF just to do my due diligence! But in general, I think that a busy and popular restaurant, known for great service, is usually a good bet. I also tend to bring a book or magazine and sit at the bar for more of a chance to chat with other solo diners.

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4. I want to see something new that’s unique to the city…and do a little people watching. I ended my day by following the recommendation of one of my drivers and heading to Fort Mason Park. I spent the afternoon and evening wandering Ghirardelli Square, snapping photos and watching the sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge.

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I ended my day and headed back to the Herbert Hotel, grabbing an uberX car. Since it was getting dark on the corner of the park where I was waiting, I appreciated the safety features of the app, like showing me the make and color of the car to watch for, along with its license number and the name of the driver. It let me know I was scanning for something familiar and that my ride was on the lookout for me, too – a nice touch when in an unfamiliar place by myself. 

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