San Francisco is a lovely city to visit and even if being rather small in size, it is a place with numerous attractions.
If you are planning a visit San Francisco, organize your time well as you will have plenty to do and so many things to see.
Here are our top 10 things that should not be missed during your stay in San Francisco. The list is based on the experience, advice and travel tips of many travellers.
# 1 Stroll along the Golden Gate Bridge
Symbol of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most famous bridge in the world. There is no way you haven’t heard of it or seen an image of it. The impressive bridge is 1.6 kilometres long and is crossed by more than 120,000 vehicles a day. It features a pedestrian walkway, a zone for wheelchair users and a bicycle path on the western side.
This famous landmark is among the most photographed sites on earth and is believed to be one of the Wonders of the Modern World. The Golden Gate Bridge was opened in 1937 to connect San Francisco to the Marin headlands. This was despite many experts believing it could not be built. It was believed that prevailing weather conditions of fog and strong wind together with the depth of water, strong currents and tidal flow would make construction and then operation of the bridge impossible.
In addition to the bridge, Golden Gate Park is also to be seen. It is among the largest city parks in the world spreading across 4.1 kilometres on the western side of San Francisco. The park features lovely gardens including the Botanical Gardens and the Conservatory of Flowers, many recreation facilities for various sports, the Koret Children’s Quarter, and two main museums – the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Science.
# 2 Ride a Cable Car
The cable cars have served as a means for transportation in San Francisco since the 19th Century. The cable cars are moved by an underground cable and run on tracks on three routes. They announce their coming by ringing bells. Tickets are not expensive and can be bought at the turnaround points of each route. The cable car rides are very popular as they offer nice panoramic views of the city and its hills.
Note that there is a Cable Car Museum, located in the Washington-Mason powerhouse where you can see the winding wheels and the huge engines, some cable cars from the 1870’s, mechanical displays, photos and a gift shop.
# 3 Visit Alcatraz and Lighthouse
The former prison of Alcatraz, also called The Rock, is located on an island with the same name, in the middle of San Francisco Bay. It used to be home to some of the worst criminals in America history including Al Capone and George Kelly Machine Gun. Some inmates tried to escape, yet no one succeeded. The prison was closed during the 1960’s and today is a popular tourist attraction.
The island is also home of the first lighthouse in this western part of the country. Today the island is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, some 1.5 miles from Fisherman’s Wharf.
# 4 See the Sea Lions at Fisherman’s Wharf
The waterfront marketplace Fisherman’s Wharf is a busy tourist area and main attraction of San Francisco. There, on Pier 39 Marina, can be seen a community of sea lions. A short walk away, you will find the Museum of Madame Tussaud’s and the San Francisco Dungeon. If you’ve worked up an appetite, the Boudin Bakery and many crab vendors selling fresh shrimp and crab cocktails are highly recommended. Pier 39 also offers panoramic views towards The Bay Bridge, the San Francisco Bridge, Angel Island and Alcatraz.
# 5 Explore the North Beach District and Chinatown
The North Beach is the name of the Italian quarter in the city. It boasts a romantic vibe thanks to its restaurants, cafes and lovely shops along Grant and Columbus Avenues. The landmarks to be seen here include the Church of Saint Peter and Paul and Coit Tower with its murals on the top of the Telegraph Hill.
Another great area to explore is Chinatown, which is one of the oldest in the country. Enter via the Dragon’s Gate and you will be rewarded with a maze of streets that are home to temples, museums, food markets and restaurants.
# 6 Shop in Union Square
If you are into shopping, then head towards the Union Square shops, boutiques and department stores. Don’t miss scenic Lombard Street which features tight turns and offers nice views towards Alcatraz and the bay.
# 7 Lose Yourself in Museums
The city of San Francisco is home to many museums including the huge Museum of Modern Art, the de Young Museum with its contemporary art exhibitions and observation tower, the Asian Art Museum and the California Academy of Sciences with its planetarium, aquarium, natural history museum.
Don’t miss the renovated Exploratorium Museum on Pier 15 with its exhibits and Bay Observatory.
# 8 Find Your Zen at Yerba Buena Gardens
This is a great place to visit, especially if travelling with kids. The Yerba Buena Gardens is a public facility in the very centre of the city. It boasts a public art area, historic carousel, children’s garden, bowling centre and ice-skating centre, plus several museums.
# 9 Meet Some Locals at San Francisco Zoo and Gardens or Go to the Presidio
If you love animals, then visit the San Francisco Zoo and Gardens to see more than 1,000 endangered and rescued wildlife animals living on 100 acres of gardens.
Another good place to get close to nature is the Presidio, which is a national park where you can see many architectural and historic treasures, go hiking, enjoy a picnic or just take a walk. While there, don’t miss the Walt Disney Family Museum.
# 10 Dine Out and Enjoy the Nightlife
San Francisco is a wonderful city to dine out. In fact, it is famous for being a city with fine restaurants and it should be noted that the local chefs are excellent at offering gourmet meals. Catering to all palates, you can choose from French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese cuisines, as well as Greek, Russian, Indian, Moroccan, Mexican and Malaysian cuisines.
The nightlife of San Francisco is busy and fun. There are plenty of night clubs concentrated in the Mission and South of Market districts. Expect Jazz, Blues, Latin, Rock, Swing and many live band places.
Now you’ve got some great ideas for your trip, don’t forget to arrange travel insurance as soon as you’ve made a booking. Get a quote today or call one of our friendly team on 1300 819 888 to discuss your requirements.
Categories: Destinations - USA