San Francisco is one of those cities in the world where half of its biggest attractions pass you by on the street. Thanks to television shows such as ‘The Streets of San Francisco’ and big Hollywood films such as ‘Pacific Heights’ and ‘Mrs Doubtfire’, the city is famous for its steep hills and cable cars.
San Francisco is also well known for its different districts and neighbourhoods. Best known of all is The Haight neighbourhood. Traces of the sixties and the ‘flower power’ seventies prevailed in the area, with ‘smoke shops’ everywhere and long haired hippies wearing tie-dyed t-shirts still roaming the streets. However, in more recent years the area has become more populated by a younger generation thanks to a number of dance music record shops.
Another of the city’s better known neighbourhoods is The Castro, home to America’s, and maybe even the world’s largest gay community. Although it is mainly young gay males who live and socialise in the area, tourists flock to see ‘the world’s largest gay community’.
Once you have walked all around the city, the city has many world famous places to visit. The Golden Gate Bridge is the city’s most famous landmark. The world’s best known jail Alcatraz, planted on an island in San Francisco Bay, no longer operates as a jail and is now a museum. Plus one of the world’s largest urban parks, the Golden Gate Park, is a good place to relax after a day’s sightseeing.
Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, USA
Known as ‘The Rock’ to many of the convicts who were sent there for their crimes, Alcatraz is one of San Francisco’s most recognisable landmarks and also one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
Originally a US military prison from 1859-1933, it became a federal prison in 1933. As it was situated on an island, and because it imposed such strong disciplinary standards, it was America’s premier maximum security prison. After closing in 1963, the prison became a tourist attraction in the 1970’s and now draws over a million tourists annually.
i>Visit www.alcatrazcruises.com for tour info.
, San Francisco, USA
The Golden Gate Bridge is San Francisco’s most instantly recognisable landmark. After the building of the bridge began in 1933, it opened to the public in 1937 and today is the second largest single-span suspension bridge in the world. One feature of the bridge which stands out the most is its colour which is called ‘International Orange’. This colour was chosen to complement the surrounding area.
To walk across the bridge takes approximately 30 minutes each way and their are breathtaking lookouts at both sides.
1201 Mason Street at Washington (museum), San Francisco, USA
San Francisco is home to the world’s first cable car which first operated on the city’s streets on 2nd August, 1873. The cable cars were revolutionary in the city’s transport system as it allowed building on the city’s steep streets, something which was previously thought wouldn’t have happened. They remained the city’s primary mode of transport until the 1906 earthquake which devastated the city. Today they may not be the city’s fastest mode of transport, but any visit to the city would be incomplete without a short journey on one.
Cable cars operate daily between 5.30am-12am; single journey $5, all-day ticket $11
For a detailed history of cable cars in the city visit the Cable Car Museum.
Open from 10am-6pm 7 days a week. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Years Day. Admission is free.
Chinatown, San Francisco, USA
Until recently, San Francisco’s Chinatown was the biggest one in North America. Although it lost that moniker to Vancouver, the city’s Chinatown district is not to be missed. Its main thoroughfare is Grant Street, but the surrounding streets and alleys are also full of Chinese herbal stores, grocery stores, post offices, banks, jewelleries and, of course, Chinese restaurants.
San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, USA
San Francisco Bay’s largest island is also a Sate Park and has picnic areas, cycling paths and hiking trails. The highest point of the island is on top of Mt. Livemore and presents spectacular views of the bay.
Ferries run to the island from Pier 41.
Pier 39, Beach Street & The Embarcadero, San Francisco, USA
Pier 39 is one of the city’s most visited areas and is a tourist’s dream come true. The pier is like one big fairground with a hand painted carousel as well as the city’s aquarium, sea lions which are nearby and much more. A day could easily be filled here, and when it is all over there are many restaurants to eat in offering postcard views of the bay.
The pier is open until 10pm-11pm daily, with some of the attractions closing earlier.
at the Palace of Fine Arts, 3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco, USA
Sort of like a scientific version of Disneyworld, this museum with hundreds of hands-on exhibits will keep children and adults alike occupied for hours. Divided into 13 different categories, including sound, light, heat and languages, it is a great place to learn some fascinating facts. Definitely worth a visit.
Open Tues-Sunday 10am-5pm; admission $10.
101 Fourth Street, Corner of Fourth and Mission Streets, San Francisco, USA
Sony’s Entertainment is full of restaurants, a 3D cinema, a 15-screen cinema, an IMAX screen and an adventure game zone which is a must for anybody who likes video games. Full of everything hi-tec, the Metreon is a good place to spend an evening in if you want to do something which doesn’t involve alcohol!