San Francisco and its bay comprise one of the most famous cityscapes in the world. The romance and excitement elicited by its name has been earned over many years. San Francisco, like New York City, is a melting pot of numerous cultures which have established and maintained enclaves within the boundaries of the city. These areas add to the charm and interest of the city for visitors. There are enough attractions to justify three or more days for the average sightseer, and there are also numerous day trips available to fascinating locations nearby.
The Golden Gate Bridge, one of world’s most famous landmarks, is known and admired because of its setting as the gateway into San Francisco Bay and to the world class city. The bridge is distinctive for its color (a reddish orange) and impressive because of its size. It connects the San Francisco peninsula with Marin County and coastal points north. The bridge connects elements of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which encompasses a huge and varied region in and around San Francisco, and which contains several notable tourist sights, including Alcatraz Island, accessible via ferry from the Pier area. National Park Rangers conduct tours of what used to be a maximum security prison in the middle of the bay. Other attractions within the recreation area include Muir Woods and Cliff House with its nearby islands, especially Seal Rocks. Many other different types of activities are available in the Recreation Area, because of the variety of habitats which compose the region.
Muir Woods, named for noted conservationist, John Muir, allows access to a beautiful grove of Redwoods, the world’s tallest trees, just north of San Francisco. The National Monument has numerous trails which can be explored. Despite being crowded during certain times of the year, the area is famous for its solitude and feeling of peace and tranquility, a truly reverent tribute to a great man.
Chinatown, the largest concentration of Chinese people outside of China, has numerous shops and restaurants and is an extremely vibrant area any time of the day or night. The outdoor food market is especially interesting.
Another uniquely San Franciscan treat is to ride a Cable Car. The car which is most popular with the tourist leaves from near Ghirardelli Square.
One of the most popular excursions from the city is to the Napa Valley Wine Country, located just northeast of San Francisco, which has become popular as a destination due to the increasing popularity of American wines from the area. Many of the vineyards offer tastings and tours of their facilities. The neighboring Sonoma Valley offers similar activities, and is also easily accessible from the city as either a day trip or an overnight excursion.
Redwood National Park, along the coast of Northern California, offers the visitor access to stands of California Redwoods, the world’s tallest trees, as well as rugged coastline and beaches. Numerous trails allow the visitor to experience pristine groves of these magnificent specimens. Scenic drives within the park include the Coastal Drive and Howland Hill Road.
Another area along the Pacific Coast Highway which attracts visitors, especially on weekends, is Point Reyes National Seashore. The area is pristine and wild, with numerous places to hike as well as beautiful beaches to relax on.
1. Climb the Coit Memorial Tower on Telegraph Hill for glorious views of the bay, the skyline, and the Golden Gate Bridge.
2. The views of San Francisco Bay from Sausalito and from Vista Point, at the northern end of the bridge are spectacular.
3. Take a drive down Lombard Street, known as the “crookedest” street in the world.
4. Cliff House, south of the Golden Gate Bridge, offers views of the coast, especially Seal Rocks, and is a great place to observe sunset.