Covering an area less than 50 square miles, the city of San Francisco is justly ranked as one of the greatest cities in the world. With its numerous attractions and enrapturing scenery, San Francisco has successfully captivated travelers from all around the world. Famous for its dynamic waterfront, cable cars, Grand dame Victorians and of course the Golden Bridge, San Francisco no doubt has it all.
There is a long list of places to visit in San Francisco and with the help of this article; you will get to visit them all.
The cities trend-defining cuisine that ranges from Michelin star restaurants to food trucks are going to make sure that you have the time of your life; not to forget, the boundless outdoor adventures, opera, ballet and theatre.
Where to Go First?
Once you’re in San Francisco, the sightseeing possibilities are endless. Here is a list of the top tourist attractions in San Francisco:
#1 The Golden Gate Bridge
Situated in the San Francisco bay, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most photographed sites in San Francisco. Its orange structure backed by blue water, mostly peaking through the low lying clouds is a sight you don’t want to miss.
The Golden Gate Bridge connects San Francisco with the Marin County and other districts situated in the north. At one time, this structure was designated to be the greatest man-made sight in the United States. Thus, it is without doubt an icon of California.
If you plan on driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, you can use the road US Hwy 101 or SR1.Similarly, if walking on the bridge appeals to you, walkways on either side of the bridge are open for both cyclists and pedestrians.
#2 Alcatraz Island
Also situated within the San Francisco bay area, the historic Alcatraz penitentiary on the Alcatraz Island is one of the most infamous prisons in America. Operating for almost thirty years, the prison was shut down in 1963 and reopened in 1973 as a tourist attraction.
In order to get to the island, you can travel using a ferry. Once you get there, you can tour the site while listening to an audio that offers a glimpse into the life in prison. An interesting fact is that the narration is in fact voiced by some inmates and guards of the prison.
While most people come to the island to visit the prison, the island with time has turned into a prominent nesting area for some seabirds. It is highly recommended that you visit the island. The scenery, history and nature of that place combined will be something you never forget.
#3 Fisherman’s Wharf
Being amongst one of the most popular tourist areas, the Fisherman’s Wharf is a place you must visit. This old part of San Francisco which was once the little Italy of San Francisco is famous for its restaurants, shops and a mesmerizing setting along the waterfront. From the wharf you can also take a sightseeing tour for some of the most spectacular views in the city; or organize a fishing charter.
Some of the most prominent attractions of that area are:
- Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
- Musée Mécanique,
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
- Ghirardelli Square.
#4 Cable Cars
The Cable Cars in San Francisco were opened in 1873 to help the locals keep up with the hilly areas of the city. At present, a few remaining cable cars are a great way for tourists to explore the city. This public transport system sets itself apart from others because it has been declared as a historic monument.
The most scenic views along the cable car tour are that of Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde. These cable cars will also take you to some of the most major tourist attractions such as the Nob Hill, Fisherman’s wharf, Ghirardelli Square and the Ferry Building.
If you plan on using these cars for more than a day, it is best if you buy a pass.
#5 Golden Gate Park
This fabulous green space is situated in the heart of San Francisco and is often referred to as the lungs of the city. Before the era of development in 1871, this place was an area of arid dunes. Now it is a wide network of cycling paths, walking trails and has around 5000 species of plants, several lakes and a buffalo paddock.
If you’re looking to get away from the buzz of the city, visiting the golden gate park is a great idea. Bike rentals are also available; this is another great way to explore the park rather than being on foot the entire time.
You might have been to various Chinatown in other cities, but the one in San Francisco takes the experience to a whole other level. It is the largest outside of Asia and the oldest one in North America. The place was entirely destroyed in an earthquake in 1906 but was rebuilt in a Chinese style, making it more attractive than ever.
Now with various temples, workshops, theaters, souvenir and antique shops, teahouse and traditional pharmacies, the place has turned into one of the biggest tourist sites in the city. If you’re in San Francisco during a Chinese holiday or event, you’re in luck as you can expect to see an exceptional celebration
#7 Twin Peaks
The peaks being more than 900ft high have one of the finest views all across the city. These hills are inhabited, undeveloped and easy to access. You can either drive up to the north peak parking area or hike along the trails in the north and south. This is the only area in San Francisco which has not been built over and remains in its original state. Even on warm days, the hills offer a cold breeze, making it one of the most spectacular areas in San Francisco. We recommend that you visit the place while you’re in the city.