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10 Best Attractions In San Francisco

It’s very easy to fall in love with San Francisco. The wonderful city relaxes by the water of the bay, sits quietly on hills it was built upon, merges beautifully with the view. The monumental orange bridge seems like it was always there. The city celebrates its past with still working 19th century cable cars, but at the same time the city and its surroundings (like Palo Alto) are the world’s largest technology hub that shapes the future of the world. San Francisco is the second most densely populated major city in the United States after New York, and it’s the cultural, financial and commercial center of Northern California. The cosmopolitan city is among the world’s most gay-friendly and eco-friendly cities

1. Golden Gate Bridge – The Golden Gate Bridge is without a doubt the most recognized monument in San Francisco, and among the most famous bridges in the world. Spanning the Golden Gate strait, this monumental bridge is 1.7 miles (2.7 km) long – incredible especially for a bridge that opened in 1937. No visit to the city is complete without a nice clean view of the bridge – but don’t worry, thanks to its size and location, there are countless places where such a view is possible. A more adventurous option is to cross the bridge by foot or with bicycles (click here for formal regulations on crossing the bridge). You can also cross underneath the bridge with one of the tour boats, for a unique perspective of the bridge, and an incredible panoramic view of the city

Best Attractions In San Francisco: The Golden Gate Bridge

Best Attractions In San Francisco: The Golden Gate Bridge

Best Attractions In San Francisco: The Golden Gate Bridge

Best Attractions In San Francisco: The Golden Gate Bridge

2. Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 – The Fisherman’s Wharf is an area located at the port of the city. It is probably the most popular area in the city and home to many attractions like the Exploratorium (mentioned below), the Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum, the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, the Cannery Shopping Center, the Musée Mécanique and more. But the most notable attraction in Fisherman’s Wharf is Pier 39. Pier 39 of the port is home to over 130 stores and restaurants, serving fresh seafood including San Francisco’s famous clam chowder. Pier 39 is also home to a colony of sea lions that have been sitting on the docks of Pier 39 since September 1989

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf

Best Attractions In San Francisco: The Sea Lions colony at Pier 39

Best Attractions In San Francisco: The Sea Lions colony at Pier 39

3. Alcatraz Island – The small island of Alcatraz in front of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf was the site of the first lighthouse in the Western United States. It became a prison in 1934 and remained active till 1963. Today you can take a boat tour to the island and visit the prison itself. These tours typically start at Fisherman’s Wharf and will often include a longer route that also goes underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. From the boat you’ll get a beautiful breathtaking view of San Francisco which alone is worth the entire tour

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Alcatraz Island

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Alcatraz Island

View of the San Francisco skyline from the boat tour

View of the San Francisco skyline from the boat tour

4. Golden Gate Park – The Golden Gate Park is a large urban park located within the city. The park was formed during the 1870s and today the beloved park is visited by about 13 million visitors every year. The park is a perfect rectangular shape, similar to the central park in New York but 20 percent larger. The park includes many attractions like the Japanese Tea Garden, the Conservatory of Flowers and the Botanical Gardens, and it offers a wonderful haven from the noise and crowd of the city

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Golden Gate Park

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Golden Gate Park

5. Lombard Street – World’s most crooked street – Lombard street is famous for having a steep section that consists of eight tight turns. This section is considered the most crooked street in the world (and one of the world’s most unique roads). Walking or driving this one block long section is another famous attraction of the city

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Lombard Street

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Lombard Street

6. Coit Tower – The Coit Tower is a 210 ft (64 m) tower built in 1933. It is located on the very top of Telegraph Hill, so getting there involves climbing many stairs and walking up steep streets. Once in the tower, visitors can reach the top of the narrow circular shaped tower using an elevator. The view of the city and the bay area is phenomenal, and includes the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz island, Pier 39, Lombard Street and more

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Coit Tower (seen from the bay)

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Coit Tower (seen from the bay)

The San Francisco skyline as seen from the top of Coit Tower

The San Francisco skyline as seen from the top of Coit Tower

Pier 39 and Alcatraz Island, seen from the top of Coit Tower

Pier 39 and Alcatraz Island, seen from the top of Coit Tower

7. The Exploratorium – The Exploratorium already featured in my post on the best science museums, and for a good reason. This fascinating science museum excels in engaging and educating the visitors. This so called “scientific fun house” offers something different and unusual in every corner. The team who designed the Exploratorium have made it their mission to display the weirdest, most wonderful and most exciting aspects of science to captivate young minds. The main idea behind this museum is that it is possible to create young scientists by letting them see just how exciting the world of science can be. The Exploratorium is conveniently located in Piers 15 and 17 in the port of San Francisco

Best Attractions In San Francisco: The Exploratorium

Best Attractions In San Francisco: The Exploratorium (source: Amy Snyder)

8. Ride the Cable Cars – The Cable Cars are another famous symbol of the city. They were introduced to the city in 1873 to help residents move around between the many hills of the city. The few remaining cable cars are a formal historic monument, but at the same time they are a legit mean of public transportation, even though not the fastest or most efficient one. You can ride the slow moving vehicle up or down the steep San Francisco streets to your destination – they’ll easily get you to Lombard Street or Fisherman’s Wharf, or you can enjoy the famous scenic routes of Powell-Mason or Powell-Hyde

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Riding the Cable Cars up and down the steep streets

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Riding the Cable Cars up and down the steep streets

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Riding the Cable Cars up and down the steep streets

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Riding the Cable Cars up and down the steep streets

9. Chinatown – Establishment in 1848, the San Francisco Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America, as well as the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. More tourists visit Chinatown than the Golden Gate Bridge, and enjoy an authentic atmosphere, with temples, theaters, restaurants, antique shops and souvenir shops. The SF Chinatown is also famous for its wonderful Chinese New Year celebrations. The main street is Grant Avenue

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Chinatown

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Chinatown

10. Union Square – Union Square is the main city square of the city and the main gathering place in downtown SF. The Union Square and surrounding area are known as one of the world’s best shopping areas, with a large number of brand stores, department stores, upscale boutiques, as well as art galleries and theaters. The Union Square attracts both tourists and local residents and is always packed with people

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Union Square

Best Attractions In San Francisco: Union Square (source: Db9023)

 

If you’re looking for attractions outside San Francisco, you should checkout Sausalito, which is located just across the Golden Gate Bridge. From San Francisco you can also drive the beautiful scenic Route 1 (and the 17-Mile Drive) towards Los Angeles – one of the most beautiful drives in the world. You can enjoy a wonderful wine tour in Napa Valley and Sanoma Valley, or even visit Yosemite National Park – one of the most visited National Parks in the United State

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