San Francisco: Main Sights
San Francisco tops many people’s charts as their favourite US city with its stunning location, spectacular architecture and unusual combination of busy city mixed with laidback Californian attitude. One of the best things about San Francisco is the wide range of popular tourist attractions, so here are a few of the must see sights of San Francisco.
• Golden Gate Bridge
This striking icon of San Francisco is one of the largest single span bridges in the world. The bridge was finally opened in 19937. It connects San Francisco to the southern tip of Marin County to the north, spanning the opening of the San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean. A walk across the bridge is a must, but be sure to wrap up warm as the wind sails through the gap between the two land masses.
• Cable cars
A visit to San Francisco is complete unless you’ve had a ride on one of these charming remnants of a by gone age. There are three cable car lines to choose but the most popular is the Powell-Hyde route which takes you from downtown to Fisherman’s Wharf (passed Lombard Street). You buy your tickets at the kiosk before you get on the cable cars (fares are $3 per ride), although you can also use a MUNI passport.
Alcatraz is an island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, and was home to a federal prison for 30 years. Today visitors take a ferry out to the Alcatraz Island as much for the views of San Francisco, as a chance to tour around the prison.
San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of the largest Chinese communities outside of Asia and it has a wonderfully exotic feel. It is best to wonder around Chinatown during the day and stop for a bit of lunch in one of the numerous restaurants. In the evening it can be a bit quiet.
• Fisherman’s Wharf
Although heavily commercialized and touristy, Fisherman’s Wharf is still well worth a visit. From a tour of the chocolate factory in Ghirardelli Square, to watching the seals at Pier 39 or going to the Aquarium, there’s a lot to do in Fisherman’s Wharf.
• Golden Gate Park
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown, you should consider a visit to Golden Gate Park- the largest cultivated urban park in the US. Here you can enjoy the tranquility of the Japanese Tea Gardens or admire the art at the de Young Museum….you can even rent a boat and row around Stow Lake.
• 49 Mile Scenic Drive
If you have a car you may want to do the 49 Mile Scenic Drive around San Francisco. This will take to most of the picturesque landmarks sites across San Francisco. Look out for the 49 Mile Scenic Drive’s blue-and-white seagull signs as they lead you around the city. If you prefer, you can pick up a 49 Mile Scenic Drive map from the Visitor Information Centres at 900 Market Street or Pier 39 on the second level.