The romantic city of San Francisco is one of the United States’ premier destinations because of the wealth of activities available and the attractiveness of the city. Here is my list of the best things to do while on your visit to the “City By the Bay.”
1. Drive or Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge — One of the most famous bridges in the world, the red-orange, steel structure spans the entrance into San Francisco’s wonderful bay.
2. Look Up at Redwoods in Muir Woods — Just a few miles north of the city, the delightful area known as Muir Woods, named after the great conservationist, John Muir, provides a sense of solitude and stillness, and is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
3. Tour Alcatraz — The infamous American prison was located on an island in the center of the bay. Now closed except to tourists, a tour of the facility includes interesting stories about the notorious inmates. Boats to the island leave from the Fisherman’s Wharf area.
4. Ride a Cable Car — These examples of public transportation of old are still operating and provide the best way to negotiate the city’s legendary hills.
5. Hang Out at Fisherman’s Wharf — This popular area, along the harbor, offers many shops, restaurants, and other activities. Be sure to walk out onto Pier 39 to see the resident sea lions.
6. Go Oriental in Chinatown — San Francisco boasts the largest Chinatown outside of China and the area is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike for the great restaurants and interesting shopping. Just walking the streets is fun.
7. Spend Some Time in Ghirardelli Square — Here is another popular gathering place in the city, because of the abundance of restaurants, shops, and street-performers. It is especially attractive in the evenings.
8. Have a Picnic at Golden Gate Park — Obviously, there are other things to do here, but a picnic here, in the shadow of the iconic bridge is a superb way to spend a morning or afternoon.
9. Drive Down Lombard Street — Billed, appropriately as the crookedest street in the world, this short, steep, curvy, one-way street is decorated with a profusion of flowers and is fun to experience.
10. Climb the Coit Tower — This cylindrical tower, atop Telegraph Hill, offers fantastic views of the city and its surroundings to anyone willing to scale the hill and climb the stairs to the observation area.
11. Shop at Union Square — This area is one of the premier shopping areas in the city and also offers a wealth of restaurants for those who work up an appetite in the process.
12. Take a Photo at Postcard Row — These Victorian houses on Steiner Street in the Alamo Square area of the city have been immortalized in pictures. They are a classic reminder of the architecture of suburbia.
13. Take in the Ocean Views from Cliff House — This popular part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area lies south of the city and allows visitors to experience the rugged Pacific coast. Seal Rocks, just offshore, has long been the home of colony of these sea mammals.
14. Get Artsy in Sausalito — Just northwest of the Golden Gate Bridge, on the Marin Headlands, is the delightful town of Sausalito, once an artist colony and still populated with numerous artists and craftsmen.
15. Beach It at Point Reyes National Seashore — North of the city is this rugged beach area, popular with city residents. It is managed by the US Government and offers walking trails and other activities besides the beach.
16. Escape to Wine Country — Northeast of the city are the premier wine growing regions of Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. Hundreds of wineries offer tasting and tours of their facilities, making this a popular excursion from San Francisco.
17. Drive South of the City on the Pacific Coast Highway — The route hugs the dramatic California coast all the way to San Diego, but some of the best scenery can be found from San Fran to Monterey, and then onward to Big Sur. It is one of the most scenic highways in the world.