San Francisco is one of the most visited places on earth, and yet its understated elegance belies the many beautiful places throughout. After seeing some of them, it won’t a surprise to see those giddy images in your brain again and again.
On top, you might have the magnificent Golden Gate bridge or the noisy cable cars, the sights of the city at Marina Beach or Pacific Heights, Castro Street, or the sea lions at Fisherman’ Wharf and so much more.
The city is way on top with the others with things to see and do, and yet it is small enough (49 square miles) that one can accomplish a lot of things in a shorter time. The number of the city’s museums rivals that of New York and it has more places to eat, more parks to enjoy and other places of interest unique to the city.
Golden Gate Bridge
If there’s a structure most associated with San Francisco, it’s the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the most famous bridge in the world. Spanning just 1.7 miles, the bridge is said to be one of the most photographed man-made structure in the planet.
There’s a pedestrian walkway that allows crossing on foot (and bikes are allowed on the other side. Around 120,000 cars pass through it. While other suspension bridges have more impressive engineering makeup, the Golden Gate Bridge is far and away the most impressive for showmanship.
When late afternoon rolls in, head for the Marin County end of the bridge. When the fog comes in, the magic show comes in, too: now you see the Golden Gate Bridge, now you don’t. The fog plays some real-time illusion on the picturesque bridge.
Another icon most associated with the city on a hill is the cable car. Cable cars had been ferrying people across the city for well over a century (since 1873). Their familiar bells can be heard ringing even blocks away signaling their passing. They run on tracks moved by underground cables on three routes. Tickets ($7) can be had at the end of each route.
It can travel to San Francisco’s Nob Hill at 338 feet and is signaled by a bell. The interesting downhill drive is exciting since the brakes are still hand-operated. Each ride either way gives you spectacular views of the city’s hills as well as the cityscape itself.
Shopping / Eating / the Arts
On the other end of the spectrum, Union Square is truly for serious tourist shoppers. It has the city’s major department stores and the most exclusive boutiques line up the streets. The largest Bloomingdale’s outside of New York is here
At Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 is a festive waterfront market and one of the city’s attractions. It’s also a short walk to San Francisco Dungeon, Madame Tussaud’s, and Ripley’s Believe or Not.
For dining, the city is a dream dining destination with more restaurants than any other city in America.
Broadway, jazz, opera, classical, ballet – whichever way you call them, you’ll be shouting encore within a block or two of City Hall, the city’s cultural center. You can’t miss anything at San Francisco.