Top attractions in San Francisco
Once known as the "Paris of the West," the gold-rush population boom made San Francisco a polycultural hub long before its Summer of Love. Here are some of the top attractions of this iconic west coast metropolis.
Alcatraz has had a colorful history but is most famous for being the prison that once held some of the US' most notorious gangsters, from Al Capone to Whitey Bulger.
The once-neglected Washington Square has evolved into an incredibly vibrant pocket of culture. It's now home to some of San Francisco's best restaurants and cafes.
San Francisco Bay actually consists of several bays, and its windy urban beaches make it a popular destination for sailors and windsurfers, as well as those just there for the scenery!
Standing proud between the Bay and the Pacific, the Golden Gate Bridge is considered by many to be the most beautiful bridge of the industrial age...
...But the San Francisco Bay Bridge is a strong contender for that accolade when lit up at night!
Inspired by New York's Central Park, the Golden Gate Park provides a leafy respite from the city, as well as attractions like the Academy of Sciences and Japanese Tea Garden.
Fisherman's Wharf is the touristic center of San Francisco. It boasts seafood restaurants that go back generations, as well as museums, parks, and its own sea lion colony!
Stow Lake is the largest and most scenic of the manmade lakes at Golden Gate Park. Its island, Strawberry Hill, offers spectacular downtown views over the treetops.
Explore San Francisco's more affluent side with a jaunt around Alamo Square. The neighborhood's hilltop park looks over much of the city, and don't forget its "painted ladies!"
The Painted Ladies are extravagant Victorian rowhouses which survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. It's astonishing to think so much of the city once looked this way!
Some would say for as long as you can, so bear in mind that it's a big and busy city with plenty to see and do. First-timers should consider spending at least a week there if possible, though even that might not be enough!
Which of San Francisco's neighborhoods is best for you depends on the nature of your trip. Fisherman's Wharf will meet all the immediate needs of a fleeting visit, though Union Square is a more neutral and relaxed jumping-off point for tourists. Other neighborhoods each have their own personality so it's worth putting in the research, but high-crime areas to avoid include Bayview, Hunter's Point, Sunnydale, and Visitation Valley.
"San Francisco has one of the world's most unique public transport systems. As well as buses and trains, the city is mostly mobilized by its historic cable-car network. Although newer trams do operate, visitors may want to ride one of the older ones for the novelty. Be warned though, notable routes such as the F-Market & Wharves line tend to get very crowded!
The city is also very bike-friendly,with extensive bicycle lanes and even bike lockers!"
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- Summer, Fall
Things to Do in San Francisco
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What people are saying about San Francisco
I've met three tour guides for this trip they were accommodating people friendly and So So Approachable. My guide was a German-American I can't Remember his name he was knowledgeable and also accommodating. He made sure we were comfortable at all times and well fed between our breaks whilst stretching our legs on our Stop offs. He was animative and made us felt being part of a team both singles and couples alike.. Yosemite is awesome....!! Breathtaking Views colourful Picturesque scenic views Wow Wow Wow..!! It appears S if it's something out of a fantasy movie especially at the mountainous the photograph is so colourfull you dont even need to adjust your camera filter or ISO Its so natural colour for Camera smart phones SLR and go-pro type action cameras. No adjustments just natural..!! If you forget your sandwiches no need to worry as at the National visitors centre Theres an awesome food restaurant and somewhere to fill your water bottle....its awesome...!!!
This tour is a great way to see three iconic San Francisco landmarks in a day without feeling to hurried. Our guide. Eddie was great, particularly for the walk through Chinatown which is clearly dear to his heart. On this matter he was very knowledgeable, and we went back to sample his food recommendation which were very tasty. Doing Alcatraz and cable car trip in our own time was a good way of doing it. Only minor complaint was the limited directions on how to find the lower terminus of the California Street cable car. That could of been made clearer.
I only had a half-day free for SF and really wanted to see the Forrest - this fit the bill although it is listed as a 3hr tour, then I got my confirmation it said 3.5hrs and in reality, it was more like 4.5 hrs so plan accordingly - The 9 am tour was perfect not too crowded and Muir Woods did not disappoint just breathtaking! Our tour guide was great and very informative - I would do it again if I was short on time! Also super safe for a woman traveling alone!
What a great way to explore Berkeley, one bite at a time! Our guide, Carrie, was very knowledgeable and well-versed on the Berkeley culinary culture and history. We enjoyed meeting several of the proprietors and had great discussions about the food scene in the Bay Area. It was a nice family activity that lent itself to good conversation and enjoying time together.
Our Tour guide Anthony Firetto was so great and very informative about the area while we were making our way to Sonoma. Nice small group of people who we great to spend the day with enjoying the wine and the sunshine.