San Francisco has always been known as easy-going and progressive. Some would say it was home to the hippy movement of the 60’s. Others would say it’s got a small town charm in the midst of a big city. However one interprets the city, it’s definitely a place you have to experience for yourself. Then you can come up with your own perceptions about the “City by the Bay.” One thing is for sure: You definitely won’t run out of things to do in San Francisco!
Geographically, San Francisco is relatively small. But there’s quite a lot packed into its small surface area. From its famous hills and vibrant neighborhoods to its iconic attractions and beautiful bay, this city really has it all. Here’s a look at seven things you should definitely do while visiting San Francisco…
WALK OVER THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE
Is there anything more iconic of San Francisco than the Golden Gate Bridge? Even if you’ve already been to the city, the bridge is always an impressive and captivating sight. With its bold color and 1.7 mile (2.7 kilometers) span, this famous bridge is arguably one of the most photographed structures on the planet.
When you’re in the city, a walk across the bridge is a must. Not only will you get an awesome and up-close perspective of it, but you’ll be treated to beautiful views of the bay and the city too!
It wouldn’t be a visit to San Francisco without checking out the infamous former prison. Nicknamed “The Rock,” it was known as being inescapable. It was home to some of the United States’ most notorious criminals. The prison was shut down in the 1960’s, and tours today tell the fascinating story of its history. Those who love true crime and history should most definitely take a tour of Alcatraz.
RIDE A CABLE CAR
The cable cars of San Francisco are another icon of the city. And riding on one is a fun experience. They’ve been transporting people around the city since the 19th century and are still used by locals to get around today. The cars travel on three routes on tracks. They’re moved by underground cables and provide a unique way to see the sights of the city. And…the rides provide amazing views of the city as well.
TAKE A STROLL THROUGH CHINATOWN
Step into and old world China experience when you enter the “Dragon’s Gate” that welcomes visitors to Chinatown. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest outside of Asia. Not only that, but it’s the oldest China town in North America.
Chinatown is best explored on foot. Visitors will find plenty of exotic shops and boutiques. There are also plenty of renowned restaurants and even food markets to explore. Fans of “dim sum” will find plenty of options for lunch. And you may even catch a fortune cookie making session.
FROLIC WITH THE SEA LIONS ON FISHERMAN’S WHARF
Fisherman’s Wharf is known for the touristy Pier 39. This bustling waterfront marketplace is a popular attraction with plenty of shops and restaurants. It’s also home to a community of California sea lions that reside on the floats of the pier. The pier is also close attractions like Madame Tussauds, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and the San Francisco Dungeon.
EXPLORE NORTH BEACH
North Beach isn’t actually a beach, it’s the city’s Italian quarter. The neighborhood is full of romantic European-style sidewalk cafes shops, and restaurants. You’ll also find the lovely Church of Saints Peter and Paul here. Don’t forget to check out the famous landmark of Coit Tower while you’re exploring. It sits atop Telegraph Hill and offers awesome views of the city’s bay and bridges. Inside Coit Tower, you’ll find floor-to-ceiling murals depicting early San Francisco painted in the 1930s.
TAKE IN SOME CULTURE
San Francisco is known for its eclectic culture. So your trip wouldn’t be complete without seeking out a bit of that culture to experience for yourself. The city is a great place to take in the arts too. It’s home to internationally recognized ballet, symphony, and opera companies. If you’re looking for a live theater experience, look no further. The city is home to many avant-garde theaters where playwrights introduce their new works. There are plenty of dance companies to discover throughout the city as well.
If museums are your thing, you’ll find plenty of those here. Check out the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Asian Art Museum, the de Young Museum, and the Legion of Honor, to name a few. There are also several galleries that offer classical and contemporary galleries as well.
Science lovers must be sure not to miss the California Academy of Sciences. This impressive place is the only place that houses a natural history museum, planetarium, aquarium, and a four story rain forest all under the same roof!