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Despite it only stretches across 7 miles, San Francisco is packed with an interesting assortment of activities to do and places to see that cater the preferences of curious travelers and families on the go. San Francisco earned her spot on the map in the late 1840s during the Gold Rush and it is now famous for its cable cars, its historic venues and everything it offers visitors of all ages to do. If you’re planning a trip to SF, here are some of the many experiences you can have to enjoy a great time there!
If you are planning on renting a car during your stay don’t forget to do some research about car rental damage insurance. This is especially important for those travelling on a budget as some options can be quite pricey and not that convenient as coverage is concerned. You can find affordable and thorough coverage here.
Walk Over the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the iconic sights of San Francisco and one of the most instantly recognizable bridges in the world. Its bright red colour makes it stand out and it’s a magnet for tourists.
The Golden Gate Bridge is located between the San Francisco Bay and Marin County. It is completely made of steel and stretches across 1.7 miles. Called on of the seven wonders of Modern World, your visit to San Francisco won’t be complete until you walk over it. A pedestrian walkway makes it easy for visitors to cross it on foot and you can go from one side to the other in around an hour. Bikes are allowed on the western side. On both sides of the bridge there are vista points with spectacular views and excellent photo opportunities so it’s a great idea not to forget your camera!
Take a Bay Cruise
The city of San Francisco is just as beautiful from afar as it is up close. That said, booking a cruise excursion from any of the local cruise companies is one of the best ways you have to admire the city’s famous skyline, view the Golden Gate from a totally different point of view and _of course_ have a great time!
The traditional bay cruise takes you from the docks near Fisherman’s Wharf through a scenic ride for the most perfect San Francisco experience. You sail around Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge.
For those looking for an even more special experience, trying the San Francisco Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise is a must! The cruise ship sails under Golden Gate and the Bay Bridges! Yes! BOTH! A guide will take you through various historic and natural landmarks as well as some of the many lighthouses that are in San Francisco.
Visit Golden Gate Park
One of the most important attractions of Golden Gate Park is its extensive green areas. Flower, thousands of species of plants and trees and lakes can be seen for miles around. Whether you prefer to take a long leisurely stroll or an energetic bike ride around the park, spending a couple of hours there ensures you cherishable memories.
In its 1017 acres of luscious fauna and flora, you’ll be able to spot people practising tai chi, brides and grooms, enjoying their lunch break or simply feeling one with nature. The park is incredibly diverse and a feast to the eyes!
Ride A Cable Car
Cable cars are an iconic symbol of San Francisco and riding any of the three lines that are currently available is a trip back in time. Specifically worth checking out are San Francisco’s heritage street cars on the F Market & Wharves line at Market St and the Embarcadero, whicho use only historic machinery.
Buy your ticket at the cable car turnarounds at the end of each route and get ready to enjoy spectacular views of the city’s celebrated hills as well as an exhilarating ride!
Visit SF’s Chinatown
The entrance of Chinatown can be found at Grant Avenue and Bush Street and it is called “Dragon’s Gate”. As you walk pass it, you’ll enter a burning maze of cobbled street, traditional eatery outlets, shops selling artifacts and antiques, exotic shops, renowned restaurants, delicious and fragrant food markets, temples and museums.
Everything is condensed in only 24 blocks and it’s considered by many a city within a city.
The Chinatown in San Francisco is a unique tourist destination and, needless to say, an exciting cultural trip. It’s rich in history and it is particularly attractive around the Chinese New Year as celebrating the coming year is a huge event in the Chinese culture.
Go In Zig Zag Down Lombard Street
Considered by many the crookedest street in the world, Lombard Street has been depicted in several movies and TV series and it is another iconic symbol of San Francisco. Its 8 sharp zigzag turns made it famous ad visitors love to take pictures of it or even catch in a video movie the way cars have to steer left and right as they go down Lombard Street.
If you are on foot, get ready for a steep wal up! But it’s really worth it! On the sides of the road you’ll admire beautiful homes with gorgeous gardens and pretty flowers. From the top of the hill you can admire stunning views of the city, see portions of the bay and even glimpse the Bay Bridge!
Don’t Miss Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island can be easily accessed by ferry from Fishermans Wharf. This rocky island was once the home of a high security prison that was the home of Al Capone amongst other famous gangsters. This infamous Federal prison is legendary and it’s a popular tourist attraction. There is a guided tour that takes you through the American military base, the Lighthouse, the jailhouse, the Guards Residence, the cell house and lots more.
Visit Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39
If you’re visiting San Francisco with your family, a must-see attraction is Fisherman’s Wharf. Located at the Ghirardelli square, it’s packed with lots of family-friendly activities. Besides, it offers unmatchable views of the coastline and the bay.
Amongst the attractions you can expect to enjoy we can mention the Musee Mecanique and the Maritime Museum, where you can ee seafaring artifacts, historic instruments and other exhibits. There’s also the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, a Ripley’s Believe it Or Not museum and so much more.
Needless to say, some of the best seafood restaurants in San Francisco can be found here.
Just next to Pier 39 you can have a close encounter with sea lions! With street performers, the brightly lit San Francisco Carousel or the Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze are great fun!
Enjoy the Views From Coit Tower
Coit Tower is another iconic symbol of San Francisco. Located in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood, is a directional marker for many visitors to the city that get lost in the mazes of city streets. It’s 64 metres tall invites visitors to admire 360° views of the city.
Get Cultured at San Francisco’s Museums
San Francisco is home to various museums dedicated to artistic expressions. A visit to the city, won’t be complete without exploring at least some of its museums.
At the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art you can appreciate an interesting collection of contemporary and modern art and it’s completely focused on 20th century artists. It’s got a permanent collection of more than 30000 paintings, sculptures, photographs and design exhibits. You can admire works of art by Paul Klee, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol or Jackson Pollock amongst others.
De Young Museum is San Francisco’s fine arts museum. It features more than a thousand paintings by American artists and collections from Africa, Oceania and South America as well as over 13000 pieces of textile art.
Another impressive museum that visitors to San Francisco cannot miss is the Legion of Honor. Located in an amazing Neoclassical Beaux-Arts building, it’s one of San Francisco’ most impressive museums and has a superb collection of European decorative arts, paintings, sculptures and antiquities from the Mediterranean and Near East.
Those interested in Asian Art have their place in San Francisco. The Asian Art Museum has one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of art from Asia in the world today. There are almost 20000 pieces and some of them are more than 6 thousand years old. There are jade carvings, architectural fragments from many Asiatic cultures, bronzes, sculptures and paintings.
Let Science Seduce You!
San Francisco is not only surrounded by a beautiful natural setting but it’s also a great place where to explore the natural and the scientific world.
The Exploratorium of San Francisco is an excellent museum dedicated to science, art and human perception. There’s lots to see and explore and a great venue for all the family. It’s a learning laboratory, with 600 hands-on exhibits related to psychology, geography, engineering or biology. Across its six galleries visitors enjoy interactive exhibits. Amongst the highlights of the museum you can’t miss the tactile dome, the colored shadow area or the sculpture of the city made from 10 thousand toothpicks!
Science nerds cannot miss the California Academy of Sciences either. With plenty of things to see, including a planetarium, an aquarium a natural history museum and even a rainforest, it’s a great place for all the family. At the aquarium, get ready to admire about 40 thousand animals from 900 different species including an albino alligator, an African penguin colony and a shark lagoon! The Rainforest is the house of 1600 animals, including 250 birds that fly freely and around a hundred reptiles and amphibians.The Natural Museum boasts dinosaur fossils and a unique earthquake simulator! Last but not least, the Planetarium is known for its impressive screen and amazing shows.
There are plenty of attractions to enjoy in San Francisco and any visit there guarantees you’re going to have a great time.