San Francisco is a popular international tourist destination, renowned all over
the world for its modern architecture, steep hills, beautiful beaches, Victorian
houses, and artistic culture. It is the fourth largest city of California and
one of the most densely populated cities of America. Because of its Coastal
Location, it is cool and windy almost all year long. Being home to the popular
Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, San Francisco has endless attractions and
activity options ranging from sightseeing, water sports, theaters, hiking,
authentic restaurants to extravagant Nightlife.
Top tourist attractions / Popular places to see in San Francisco are:
San Francisco Nightlife:
The Vibrating and glamorous nightlife of San Francisco has a wide variety of entertainment options to offer to its visitors. San Francisco has some of the most extravagant nightlife with plenty of entertainment ranging from Theaters, Shows, sexy lounges, vibrant nightclubs to exotic wine bars. Some of the best places for enjoying the San Francisco Nightlife are 1015 Folsom, Mangarine Lounge, Beach Blanket Babylon, Bottom of the hill, Bimbo's 365 Club, Hotel Biron Wine Bar & Art Gallery.
Golden Gate Bridge:
It is the most popular and prominent structure of San Francisco. Almost every tourist who comes to California's San Francisco Bay Area visits this deep orange colored magnificent suspension bridge completed in 1937. It was the longest suspension bridge span in the world at that time and connects San Francisco to the Marin County.
Alcatraz is one of the most popular tourist attractions of San Francisco, offering a close view of the former federal prison, oldest operating lighthouse on the west coast of America along with gardens, tide pools, bird colonies, and breathtaking views of the coastline.
The Cable Cars of San Francisco were designated as historic landmarks by the National Park Service in 1964. They are one of the best ways of exploring the city since they pass through many well known sights - Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Chinatown, North Beach, Union Square.
The Lombard Street in San Francisco is the most crooked street of America and is a popular tourist attraction due to its location and unusual sharp curves. Paved with bricks, it is a steep, hilly street with Victorian mansions on either side. Millions of tourists come here every year to see this popular street, built with eight switchbacks on a 40 degree slope.
Golden Gate Park:
It is one of California's most beautiful urban parks and is 3 miles long by 1/2 mile wide, it is larger than New York's Central Park. Once covered with sand dunes, the Golden Gate Park consists of millions of trees today. The Park is composed of hundreds of attractions including Gardens, Lakes and Museums that are linked by wooded paths. It also has several fly casting pools and a lily pond within its borders. Being home to art, culture, scientific exhibits and lots of recreation, the Golden Gate Park is the third most visited park in America with over 13 million Visitors each year.
The popularity of Chinatown mainly lies in its inexpensive and unique merchandise and food that is not found any place else. It consists of Chinese temples, art, culture, shopping areas, events and much more. It gives the feeling of being in one of the markets of Hong Kong. Chinatown is said to be drawing more tourists than the Golden Gate Bridge making it a must see attraction of San Francisco.
Fisherman's Wharf of San Francisco is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, well known for its historic waterfront, delicious seafood and beautiful bay views. Watching the California Sea Lions, Shopping, world class dining, a long coastal row of seafood restaurants, street vendors, talented street performers and beautiful bay views are some of the things that have made Fisherman's Wharf a top attraction of San Francisco.
San Francisco Zoo:
The San Francisco Zoo is Northern California's largest zoological park and conservation center. It houses more than 250 different species of wildlife from all over the globe including endangered species such as Grizzly bear, Snow Leopard and Sumatran tiger. San Francisco Zoo is a well organized zoo where animals with same geographic areas are put together in such a manner that it does not look like cages.
Other San Francisco Attractions:
The Embarcadero Waterfront Area, Coit Tower, 49-Mile Drive, The Marina District, Nob-Hill & Russian Hill, The Presidio, Twin Peaks, Union Square and Yerba Buena Gardens.
Things to Do in San Francisco
1. Riding Cable Car
Cable cars are often referred as the San Francisco’s moving landmark. Tourists feel that their trip to San Francisco is incomplete if they have not ridden the cable car. There are three routes, which the cable cars pass. You may refer in a map to know where the cable cars pass.
A visitor can buy tickets from the turnarounds or from any conductor as you hop on board. The fee is for one ride alone and if you want to ride again, you have to pay again. For non busy hors, the charge is less for seniors that are above sixty five years old. Children below five years old are free.
You can save if you buy the unlimited ride. This is recommended for those who will ride more than four times in three days.
2. Enjoy a bay cruise
Bay cruise is probably one of the best ways to enjoy the city. The cruise may explore in the area near Alcatraz and the famed Golden Gate Bridge.
Bay cruise can allow you to rest your tired feet while you are exploring the city. However, avoid following the crowds that shuffle in cruise ships, the best place is to go to Pier 43 ˝ that is near Fisherman’s Wharf to take the Red and White Cruise. The Red and White Fleet narration is available in 8 languages and the trip may last from ninety minutes to an hour.
If you are interested to tour the Alcatraz Island, hop in to Alcatraz Cruises. The cruise for Alcatraz is at pier 33 at Fisherman’s Wharf. For a more enjoyable treat, you can also visit the Angel Island and enjoy the “island hop”. However, you have to get reservation at least one week before your scheduled trip.
For a more romantic trip, you may want the sunset cruise. The trip in Red and White Fleet include appetizers and drinks. This is available in April to October. The Adventure Cat sunset trip leaves from pier 39 and it is a two hour cruise, which include complimentary tickets.
3. Explore the San Francisco Chinatown
Visitors here in San Francisco Chinatown will enjoy the area. The two major streets are great for souvenirs, herbalist shops, markets and tea stores.
The Chinatown here in San Francisco is the biggest Chinese community in the West Coast and the second largest in the U.S.
All the shops here are very crowded when the shops are open. As a tourist, you have to ready yourself since the Grant Avenue and Stockton Street is overcrowded. If you prefer to have a guided tour, you can understand why and how the Chinatown started.
If you visit here during Chinese festival, you can see festivities in the street. The Chinese New Year that takes place normally during January and February displays the Chinese New Year Parade and several streets fair.
The Autumn Moon Festival is enjoyed every autumn. It is often celebrated with moon cakes and pastries.
4. Have fun at Exploratorium
Kids will definitely enjoy the Exploratorium. It is a modern science museum, which offers many exhibits.
Exploratorium Science Museum is a hands-on area to enjoy science and learn great new things. The hands-on technique is very appealing for kids and for adults. Everyone can do an activity that is enjoyable.
If you have kids, the best time to visit is during the day since most activities at night are more adapted to adults.
5. Visit Sausalito
The Sausalito has the best view of San Francisco in the area. Visitors can definitely have fun in the ferry ride from the Bay to Sausalito.
Sausalito got its name from the little willow trees which are found by Spanish explorers back in 18th century. The Sausalito only has seven thousand five hundred residents and it is popular for is great waterfront views.
There are several attractions like art galleries and souvenir shops in the Bridgeway. The views across the bay really amaze visitors.
You can also view the Sausalito’s floating houses. If you have time, you can even rent in one of the floating houses.
6. View art galleries in San Francisco
If you are art lover, do not miss the art galleries in San Francisco. The art galleries here are free to visit. The place may be quiet during the week but the area can be fun during weekends and in openings.
You can start your trip to 49 Geary, it is a four floor gallery packed place located in the downtown. Other galleries are Ratio 3 in the Mission, then the Diego Rivera Gallery and finally the Luggage Store Gallery.
7. See the Fort Point
Fort Point was built in 1861 to protect the city in Confederate attacks that never occurred. Also a popular place where Kim Novak had leapt to frigid waters in Vertigo. It is a great place to view the Golden Gate Bridge though it is only accessible from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Friday to Sunday only.
8. Check Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park is 1017 acre park with green and wed red meadows. There are great free things offered here. There are weekly concerts and other activities like Shakespeare in the Park. Free lawn bowling lessons are also available every Wednesday and Friday.
Things to Avoid
• Avoid Tenderloin area. The Tenderloin area starts in the north of Civic Center up to Van Ness and to Mason St by Union Square. This area is not good for tourists during night time.
• Avoid cold weather. Many tourists do made a mistake during summer. They keep buying cheap sweatshirt however, the weather can be cold and you have to dress appropriately. Bring jacket to protect yourself from cold weather.