Top 10 Things to do in San Francisco
San Francisco is one of the top ten most visited cities in the U.S. While the city itself is only seven miles long by seven miles wide, making it fairly easy to see and do quite a bit of stuff in San Francisco in a single day. We have put together a list of the Top 10 Things to do in San Francisco. San Francisco makes a great romantic getaway for couples or even a budget-friendly family vacation destination that is packed with things to do with kids. Find cheap hotels starting at about $75 per night or you can splurge on a luxury hotel for a more upscale vacation experience. From art museums, to national monuments, and famous landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, you are sure to find something great on your San Francisco vacation. While you are there or before you go, be sure to check out the free audio tours to a variety of popular spots around town.
1.Go Across the Golden Gate Bridge
The 1.7 mile-long bridge that connects San Francisco Bay and Marin County is the world famous Golden Gate Bridge. When it first opened in 1937, it was the longest suspension bridge ever created. Six lanes of traffic on the bridge carry millions of passengers every year. For more Golden Gate fun, consider a ferry tour across the Bay or a Golden Gate Bridge Tour to learn more about this amazing architectural wonder. Fun Facts: The Golden Gate Bridge is the most photographed bridge in the world. The Bridge is actually named for the Golden Gate Strait which is the narrow entrance between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay.
2.Relax at Golden Gate Park
Scenic Golden Gate Park spans 1,017 acres and is 20% larger than New York’s Central Park. With beautiful lakes, picnic areas, monuments, playgrounds and gardens; it is easy to see why 13 million people visit Golden Gate Park each year. The park offers so much to see and do, it could take an entire day to experience all that it has to offer. Within the park there is plenty of family friendly things to do with kids including a visit to the California Academy of Sciences, a unique attraction that features an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and the Osher Rainforest exhibit. Kids will enjoy a visit to the bison paddock near Spreckels Lake. Art lovers will want to visit the De Young Museum which houses 20th century and contemporary art as well as a sculpture garden.
3.Japanese Tea Garden
Actually located within Golden Gate Park, the Japanese Tea Garden is worth mentioning on its own. This one of a kind attraction is the oldest Japanese Garden in the U.S. The Garden features five acres of manicured gardens filled with cherry trees, koi ponds, bamboo-lined walkways, a Zen garden and an actual tea house. A five-story pagoda and the oldest public conservatory in the Western Hemisphere, the Conservatory of Flowers, are also a part of the Garden.
4.Stroll Along Fisherman’s Wharf
The Fisherman’s Wharf is the most famous waterfront community in San Francisco. Visitors can enjoy fantastic food and some of the best dining in the country. Outdoor stands sell fresh seafood and delectable dungeness crab or you can enjoy the catch of the day from a variety of gourmet restaurants that will prepare you a meal that will delight your taste buds. The Wharf is also a launching point for many different tours of the area including Segway, walking boat, and more.
Technically San Francisco has four Chinatowns, but the one along Grant Avenue is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia as well as being the oldest in North America. It is so big that it encompasses 2 hospitals, various parks and sees more visitors each year than the Golden Gate Bridge. The Autumn Moon Festival, usually in September or October, is a popular and free attraction. Festivities include continuous Asian entertainment, lion dances, costumed artisans, cultural demonstrations, arts and crafts vendors.
Visitors and travel experts will tell you that a visit to Alcatraz island should be on your “Must Do” list while visiting San Francisco. Sitting on a small, rocky island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz is most known as being a former federal prison that housed some of society’s biggest offenders, the most famous of which was Prohibition-era mob boss Al Capone. Prior to that, it was a military prison that housed prisoners from the Spanish-American War and Civil War, as well as the site of the West Coast’s first operating lighthouse. Entrance to Alcatraz is free, however you will need ferry ticket to the island. Tickets start at $37.25 for adults but are well worth the price when you consider the scenic views and the audio guide that is included. Tours run from 8:45 a.m. until 6:40 p.m. daily and sell out quickly. You will want to book sightseeing this attraction in advance.
7.Take a Cable Car Ride
The infamous San Francisco cable car system first opened in 1873. At its peak, there were 23 cable car lines in the city, but today we have only three left. It is the last manually operated system in the world. Nearly all of the people that ride the cars today are tourists. The cable cars are a national monument and are one of only two mobile national monuments in the U.S.
8.Enjoy a View from Twin Peaks
The Twin Peaks in San Francisco are a world famous tourist attraction that offers spectacular views of the Bay Area. The Peaks were initially called “Los Pechos de la Choca” which means Breasts of the Maiden. The twin peaks are adjacent to each other and stand at 922 feet.
There are animals and plants in abundance and as you make your way to the top you are sure to see plenty. Apart from the peaks there is a 64 acre park that gives you an idea of how San Francisco looked before the development we see today.
9.Stroll Along the Ferry Building Marketplace
Located at the bottom of Market Street is the Ferry Building Marketplace. The Marketplace is one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Visitors will find a mix of small and large shops. The Marketplace offers everything from artisan cheeses to freshly caught fish. Indulge your taste buds at some of the city’s finest restaurants that is home to some of the best chefs in San Francisco. Fun Fact: Before it was a market, the building was used as a Ferry House for travelers arriving from the East.
10.Visit Muir Woods National Monument
Muir Woods National Monument is part of California’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area, north of San Francisco. It was dedicated as a national monument in 1908 to protect the towering old-growth redwood trees. Nearly half of the 554 acres of the Golden Gate Recreation Area is redwood forest. The average age of redwoods in the area is between 600-800 years old. There are six miles of hiking trails that range from 30 minutes to about an hour and a half long for visitors to explore at the Muir Woods National Monument. Click here for more information about Muir Woods National Monument.
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