San Francisco: Suggested Itinerary
Day 1: I don’t need to tell you to wear flowers in your hair, but unsurprisingly, San Francisco has moved on a bit from the hippy paradise it once was. Take the first day just as calmly. Gaze at the work of Jackson Pollock at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in the morning and then head to Muir Woods to peer up at gigantic redwoods in the afternoon. In the evening, start with either Japantown or Chinatown tonight.
Day 2: San Francisco is unsurprisingly still full of color and interesting districts, the question is which one are you going to visit and how long are you going to stay there? From the hippie haunts of Haight-Ashbury to the colorful Victorian architecture of the predominantly gay Castro District, and from Japantown to Chinatown, San Francisco is all about neighborhoods. Each has a distinct look and vibe. You could easily spend a day in each or hop on a streetcar to sample a few.
Day 3: Start with Union Square - named for a series of pro-union mass demonstrations staged here on the eve of the Civil War, the epicenter of the city's shopping district. Just 3 blocks down, at Powell and Market streets, is the cable car turnaround where you'll embark on a ride on the nation's only moving National Historic Landmark. Next, tour "The Rock," the Bay Area's famous abandoned prison on its own island, Alcatraz. The brief but beautiful ferry ride offers captivating views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands, and the city. Once inside, an excellent audio tour guides you through cell blocks and offers a colorful look at the prison's historic past as well as its most infamous inmates. One of the best ways to get the San Francisco vibe is to mingle with the locals, and one of the best places to do so is in San Francisco's "Little Italy." Dozens of Italian restaurants and coffeehouses continue to flourish in what is still the center of the city's Italian community. A stroll along Columbus Avenue will take you past eclectic little cafes, delis, bookstores, bakeries, and coffee shops that give North Beach its Italian-bohemian character.
Day 4: Fly home from San Francisco.