San Francisco is one of the most unique and character-filled American cities. No other city contains so much variety within its borders — including the historic island of Alcatraz, the busy shores of the San Francisco Bay, the nice walks of the promenade with spectacular views of the Golden Gate in Land’s End, its magnificent skyline, the seals, and the lovely sunset view in the marina.
There are so many things to do and see — you will recognize the vastness and beautiful topography of San Francisco when you are on the heights of Twin Peaks. For those who love the ocean, nature, breathtaking landscapes and quaint neighborhoods, it is a must to visit San Francisco.
When To Go:
The high season for tourists in San Francisco is during the summer with its warm temperatures. Spring is another popular time; however you can anticipate that the breezes will be somewhat chilly. The Golden Gate City witnesses a surge in tourism throughout the hot time of the year as travelers flock to the west looking for sun, sand and surf. In any season, however, the fluctuating climate can rapidly trounce a day at the sunny shore.
The off season of winter in San Francisco draws deal-seekers — with the guarantee of lower hotel rates and smaller crowds. If you still choose to go and tour around San Francisco in the wintertime, prepare for the chilly weather with a lot of layers.
Here are the
things to do
when in the city of San Francisco:
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
is one of the most impressive suspension bridges in the world. It spans the Golden Gate Strait, a three-mile-wide channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, and can be seen from afar around the bay. Also, there is a bus #76 from the city which goes to the bridge and continues to the lighthouse, but it runs only on weekends. The engineering feats that made this gigantic and beautiful orange landmark possible are explained in an exhibit at the entrance to the bridge, where photos of its construction may be viewed. This iconic symbol of San Francisco is open to foot and bicycle traffic, with special paths provided for each. There is a gift shop with plenty of souvenirs to help you remember your visit to this amazing place. If there is no fog you can have great views of the bay and the entire city of San Francisco.
It is easy to reach this attraction. You can take a hop-on-hop-off bus that goes straight to the bridge. Be sure to take a tour on the boat that passes under the bridge and follow the tradition of making a wish! Do not forget to take warm clothes, as in San Francisco the weather is often very cool with strong winds.
offer a panoramic view of the city, the Pacific Ocean, and the Golden Gate Bridge. To have great pictures, it is best to come before sunset and let the sun behind your back further highlight the famous orange bridge. Situated near the Point Bonita Lighthouse, this area is only accessible by car but it is worth the trip. The road follows a hill along the coast and there is a point to stop along the road that is intended for photo opportunities.
Starting with the trip across the Golden Gate Bridge, this excursion will show you nature at its purest and the small towns you will pass are very charming. There is the ocean, the bay, the mountain; great scenery is all around you — and in addition there are some excellent restaurants. Avoid the weekends as it gets difficult to park. If you don’t mind some hilly terrain, do not hesitate even one second to try the very popular rental bike route and venture into the Marin Headlands. Breathtaking views are surely guaranteed for those who love both nature and water.
The boat ride to
is already worth the trip just because of the beautiful view of the bay of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. Audio headsets in many languages are available to assist you during the tour. You can walk through the corridors of the prison while listening to the audio stories of all the detainees who have spent part of their life in Alcatraz. The guides’ narration includes their suspicion that Al Capone’s ghost still haunts the place.
Another mysterious impression is that they seem to hear detonations when showing bullet holes in the walls at the site of a famous escape attempt. You will also discover a hole in the cell wall made by a prisoner who escaped with accomplices — but their bodies were never found.
One can also imagine, while visiting the refectory (dining area), the tension and stress that the keepers faced when all those dangerous men were gathered together and could use their cutlery as weapons. You can have a great half day tour in Alcatraz because it is a place steeped in criminal history that housed the greatest criminals of the United States. The visit is organized so that everyone is free to go at their own pace, stay as long as they want, take good pictures, and at no time ever feel bored. A visit to this famous lighthouse and detention block is a must when in San Francisco.
If you want to avoid the huge crowd, it is best to go early for your tour around the
. You can wander around and even see the sea lions in certain months of the year (early May onwards until August). This place is very nice and always full of tourists. There are plenty of souvenir shops, seafood restaurants, and also beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay while you take a stroll. Sometimes, there are musicians, jugglers, and other forms of entertainment to keep the pedestrians amused.
The area is properly secured and cops roam around on their saddled horses. There is even a staircase called the “piano”, several piers that can be visited for free, a submarine, a tram transport tour, a cruise tour of the bay — and you can also walk right over to the starting point for the shuttle that goes to Alcatraz. Be sure to go up to pier 39 where sea lions enjoy sunbathing on pontoons. It may be interesting to try some sourdough bread filled with seafood, a known specialty in this part of San Francisco.
offers a beautiful view and a peaceful stroll in the direction of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is best to visit the park in the late afternoon to see the amazing sunset as it sets a very special mood and creates a unique experience. From here, the unprecedented views bring an awareness of merging elements, harmony, love and peace. Located in the western part of San Francisco, the park overlooks miles of ocean and coastal cliffs.
The park is full of natural contrasts, as it rises high above sea level and is clearly visible from the Golden Gate Park. The beach area has a steep wooden staircase with wooden handrail. On the beach there are toilets for girls and boys with washbasins, warm water, and toiletries. Everything here is clean and tidy. Free parking is available at the top (at the beginning of the stairs).
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
is an elegant landmark in San Francisco. Take a bike, a camera, and a basket of fruit and spend a day here. It is one of the most enjoyable pastimes for a vacation spent in California. The observation deck of the park offers stunning views of the elegant “Golden Gate” Bridge. The place is not too crowded, so you can sit quietly and think, enjoy a good view of the bridge and the city of San Francisco and of course, take a bunch of fantastic photos. It has many places for recreation (cycling, jogging, golf, etc.), live music and entertainment.
It is a lovely formal park with museums and blooming gardens. You can see the marina with the Yacht Club and also the Palace of Fine Arts. This building was erected for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915 in Greco-Roman style. After it was completely run down, it was demolished and rebuilt in the 1960s. It is a very nice facility with a small lake and rotunda of columns. Especially on weekends the Marina Drive is heavily populated. It is a long walk from here to the bridge, but if you enjoy walking you can still cross the bridge and admire the scenic view from the other side.
Walt Disney Family Museum
Walt Disney Family Museum
is located in the middle of the Presidio and is easy to reach by public transport. This really is a museum about the Disney family itself. The museum shows in great detail — and with many original documents and films — the creativity and work of Walt Disney and his family. You definitely have to take time to really look at all the images, fonts, art works, and movies. Delightfully decorated rooms show, in chronological order, all of the Disney family and their collection. Even some very private items have been made public for everyone to see.
The museum displays all the awards of the great cartoon master, the first drawings of the early videos, and his full biography. It shows the evolution of whole animated cartoons, and the first model and architectural plan of Disneyland. The well-known Disney characters of course are not missing but are not necessarily in the foreground. The museum is very suitable for children because there are many interactive exhibits.
It is mandatory to visit this unique attraction. Naturally, it refers to the section of
that is the steepest descent in the world. One of the top things to do in San Francisco is to take the drive along the winding serpentine road. The hairpin turns of the descent itself are not difficult, as everyone goes at a very low speed, but the rise of the hill is very steep and delivers exciting thrills to its guests.
This famous street is surrounded by colorful houses, very popular with tourists, and leaves a positive and lasting impression. It is a beautiful street with flower beds and exotic trees. It has wonderful views from the hilltop and you can take great photos of the view as you descend through the maze. Everything is always clean and all the plants are neatly trimmed, credit goes to the city and the people of this neighborhood who work hard to preserve and cherish its natural beauty.
is not only a film but also the lovely twin hills located in San Francisco. From them you can have a scenic view of the city that turns especially beautiful when the sun goes down. They are located in the center of San Francisco and feature an observation deck. Spaced 656 feet from each other, these hills have their own names — the northern one is Eureka, and the southern is Noe. From the observation platform called the “Christmas Tree Point” on the northern hill you can see the entire city. The view is superb from this second-highest point in San Francisco.
Palace of Fine Arts
Palace of Fine Arts
and its pavilion in the Roman style are reflected in the surface of a pond, a beautiful work of landscape design with pleasant flower gardens and open air walkways. You can take a slow walk or sit on a bench while enjoying the serene views on its grounds. It is indeed a peaceful place and the animals that live there feel so much at home that when you start to photograph them, they pose for you. The pond has ducks, swans, sea turtles and goldfish that make the overall ambience all very natural.
When heading towards the famous bridge, make sure you visit this wonderful park. It is located near the Academy of Sciences, so you can arrange to see both in a short time.
Inside the palace, the setting is modern and elegant and there is always a well-organized – exhibition on modernism. Around the palace you will pass some old-style — Victorian houses which are a delight to see.