Pacific Coast Highway Travel lists the ten best things to do in San Francisco, including Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, and Fisherman's Wharf.
Choosing the ten best things to do in San Francisco isn't easy, in a city that's full of attractions. It's also very subjective, as our list of the ten best things will be different from someone else's. If you're traveling as a family then you'd have a different list yet again, or two different lists depending how old the children are.
Things like Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Fisherman's Wharf would probably appear on everyone's list, but here, in no particular order, is our own list of the ten top things to do in San Francisco.
Everyone wants to see the Golden Gate Bridge, the most familiar symbol of the city. Some might be happy with simply seeing it from a ferry ride or on a quick city tour, while others will want to get up close, visit the museum and Welcome Center, and walk across the bridge. All your different options are listed on our separate page on Visiting the Golden Gate Bridge.
Although this list isn't in any special order, we are putting our top three choices at the start. Visiting the former prison on the island of Alcatraz has definitely been one of the highlights of our visits to San Francisco. Let's face it, no-one likes crime, but we all love hearing and reading about it. We don't want to go to prison either, unless it's to somewhere like Alcatraz to find out what life behind bars was like in the most notorious prison in the country. Find out all you need to know on our Touring Alcatraz page.
If you visit Alcatraz you have to take a ferry and book a tour at Fisherman's Wharf. You can fit both things in, as we describe on our Perfect Day in San Francisco page. So what else is at Fisherman's Wharf? Well, start with the Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39 and the Musée Mécanique at Pier 45.
You can rent bikes or book a bike tour, take a ferry to Sausalito and other places, or take a ferry tour around the bay. There's a carousel, other fairground attractions, and several museums in the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood. And you can't leave without having some clam chowder in a bowl made from San Francisco's own sourdough bread. Find out everything you can do on the Fisherman's Wharf website.
San Francisco's Chinatown is the biggest in the USA. It began with Chinese immigrants arriving during the Gold Rush and setting up businesses, and today there's an estimated population of about 35,000. It's a fascinating place to simply wander around, and you should definitely eat in one of Chinatown's many excellent restaurants. You might want to delve a little deeper by taking an organized tour, perhaps one of the free tours offered by San Francisco City Guides.
This one's a slight cheat as it allows us to include two museums for the price of one, the de Young Museum and the Legion of Honor, which do work together under the title of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
The de Young Museum is in Golden Gate Park, close to the California Academy of Sciences. It was founded in 1895 and its main draw is its huge collection of American Art from the 17th century to the present day. However, it also has collections of European Art, African Art, Oceanic Art, and contemporary art from around the world.
The Legion of Honor is in Lincoln Park, and you'll get good views of the Golden Gate Bridge from here. It was established in 1924 and its collections span over 6,000 years of human history. There are objects from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, and also a good collection of European Art including Rodin, Rembrandt, Rubens, El Greco, Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, and many more.
You'll learn more at the website of the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco.
Golden Gate Park covers over 1,000 acres and is another part of the city where you could spend several hours just mooching about, especially on a sunny day. And that's without allowing time to visit some of the attractions, like the de Young Museum or the California Academy of Sciences.
Other things to see include the Japanese Tea Garden, the Conservatory of Flowers, public art, windmills, the San Francisco Botanical Garden, lakes, Hippie Hill, and do check if there's a concert happening in the Music Concourse. Learn more on the Golden Gate Park official website.
The term 'painted ladies' is now used in many US cities to describe Victorian and Edwardian houses that have been painted in brighter colors than they would have been originally. However, the term originated in San Francisco and the best examples are around Alamo Square.
Located in Golden Gate Park, this is one of the city's best museums. Despite its name it's actually one of the biggest natural history museums in the world with over 46 million specimens (some of them are very small, of course!) The building was designed by the famous architect Renzo Piano and is famous for its living green roof, which was covered with 1.7 million plants, all native to California.
Inside the building there's a rainforest area, an aquarium, planetarium, an African Hall, a gems and minerals display, and of course the main natural history museum. You can easily spend all day here. Read all about it on the official website.
This is another of San Francisco's top museums. It was established in 1935, when it was the first museum on the west coast devoted to modern art. Today, with a collection of over 35,000 items, it's one of the largest modern art museums in the world. With such a vast collection it's hard to pick out highlights, but among the draws are works by Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Andy Warhol, Edward Hopper, and Robert Rauschenberg. Find more details on the official website.
Finally, no visit to San Francisco is complete without a ride on one of the city's famous cable cars. There are three lines to choose from but the best is the Powell Hyde line, which goes along the waterfront and then up and down San Francisco's steep streets. Get full details and plan your trip by visiting the SFMTA website.
Mar 29, 23 10:55 AM
Mar 29, 23 10:55 AM
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