What to See in San Francisco


Perhaps you are watching that new USA series, Fairly Legal, with Sarah Shahi as the lawyer/arbitrator Kate Reed, set in San Francisco and featuring beautiful views of the city by the bay. If you’d like to travel west and tour the city, too, here’s a roundup of things to see in San Francisco.

Things to do in San Francisco: The Waterfront

• Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square: Together, they are perhaps the most popular things to do in San Francisco. Many people feel they haven’t visited San Francisco unless they’ve seen them – but this tourist area bears little resemblance to the rest of the City of San Francisco.

• Alcatraz: The former prison wasn’t always a place people wanted to go, but today it’s one of the city’s most popular sights. Reserve your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.

• The Golden Gate Bridge: Not only is it one of the city’s most enjoyable things to do, but it’s also one of the most-photographed sights in the world. A walk on it is a must.

Things to do in San Francisco: Around Town

• Cable Cars are often called San Francisco’s moving landmark. And they’re a fun way to get around, too.

• Chinatown expresses what early 20th Century Western architects thought Chinese buildings should look like. There’s much here that’s created just for the tourist, but with our hints, you can get a glimpse of the “real” Chinatown in its alleys and shops.

• The Exploratorium is a modern, hands-on science museum housed in The Palace of Fine Arts, a Roman-style remainder of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The outdoor rotunda and its lagoon are some of the most-photographed San Francisco sights

• Lombard, the “Crookedest” Street is neither the crookedest street in San Francisco nor the steepest, but it is no doubt the best-known. The “crooked” section is the block below Hyde Street. No car to drive down? Take the cable car to Hyde and Lombard and walk.

• Golden Gate Park is the city’s largest park. One of the most popular attractions in the park is the Japanese Tea Garden, but there’s plenty more to see here, including the San Francisco Botanical Garden, California Academy of Sciences and Conservatory of Flowers.

Things to do in San Francisco – Nearby

• Sausalito, just across San Francisco Bay, has some of the best views of San Francisco in the area. Take a ferry over, browse a few art galleries and have a meal with while enjoying the view.

San Francisco Attractions A to Z

Not all tours that say “Alcatraz” actually go there and waiting too long to get tickets could lead to disappointment. Get some tips for visiting one of the top San Francisco attractions.

Angel Island State Park
Sometimes called the “Ellis Island of the West,” Immigration Station is only one of the things to do on this island with 360-degree views of the bay.

Aquarium of the Bay
A diver’s-eye view of the bay.

Art Museums
San Francisco’s premier art museums include The Palace of the Legion of Honor which holds an impressive collection of Rodin statues, including The Thinker, the M. H. de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, near the Convention Center south of Market Street.

Asian Art Museum
One of the largest Asian art museums in the West. Collection represents over 40 Asian countries.

AT&T Park: San Francisco Giants Baseball
Of course you can watch a baseball game here when the Giants are at home, but you can also take a behind-the-scenes tour when they’re not playing.

Bay Bridge
All about the “other” bridge linking the city to Oakland.

Bay Cruises
On a nice day, a Bay cruise is a good way to rest your tired feet and see some of the San Francisco attractions from a different angle.

Cable Car Museum
It’s called a museum, but it’s really a tour of the heart of the cable car operation where you can see the cables being turned.

Cable Cars
Everything you need to know about the city’s rolling landmarks: where to get tickets, how and where to get on and off and where they run. One of the top San Francisco attractions.

California Academy of Sciences
Includes the Steinhart Aquarium, penguin feedings, snake feedings and opportunities to talk to aquatic biologists as they do their work. Located in Golden Gate Park, the new building opened in 2008 has a grass-covered roof and many other “green” features.

One the top San Francisco attractions, Chinatown is easy to find – and it’s easy to miss some of its best spots, too, but you’ll find them all with this easy guide.

City Hall
Did you know the 55-story city hall is taller than the United States capitol building? It’s considered one of the finest examples of classical architecture in the country, but it’s the scene of a batch of interesting happenings, too.

Cliff House
Better thought of as one of the San Francisco attractions than as a restaurant. People have been coming here since 1863.

Coit Tower
This white tower atop Telegraph Hill is an icon. Our guide tells how to get there, when to visit and how to see the second-floor murals. One of the top San Francisco attractions.

De Young Museum
Located in Golden Gate Park, this museum features an extensive art collection and impressive rotating exhibits.

650 interactive exhibits in the areas of science, art, and human perception. Great fun for kids and also for grownups who still have the heart of a kid.

Ferry Building
One of my favorite places in San Francisco. It’s still a transit center, (ferry boats to Marin and Alameda) but nowadays it’s better known for restaurants, artisan food shops and the city’s biggest farmer’s market.

Fillmore Street
Shop like a local along one of the city’s most interesting streets.

Fisherman’s Wharf
Learn how to go behind the scenes at this most famous of San Francisco attractions.

Fort Mason
An arts center that includes Greens Restaurant, Magic Theatre, BATS Improv comedy and the outdoor Exploratorium.

Fort Point National Historic Site
Tucked under the Golden Gate Bridge, this never-used 19th century fort has a fascinating story.

Golden Gate Bridge
Discover where to park without worrying about getting a ticket, where to find the best views of the bridge and when you can take a free guided tour. One of the top San Francisco attractions.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area
An urban national park that administers many San Francisco attractions.

Golden Gate Park
One of the country’s most famous urban parks. Find out where to see the buffalo herd, how to visit the Japanese Tea Garden or what’s inside its famous museums.

Return to the scene of the Summer of Love. One of the 1960s most famous San Francisco attractions is still a fun place to visit and great for shopping, too.

Jackson Square
The only remnant of the 1800s commercial district.

Japanese Tea Garden
Designed by gardener Makoto Hagiwara for the 1894 Midwinter International Exposition.

Legion of Honor Museum
Beautifully sited overlooking Lands End, the Legion of Honor holds a nice collection of Rodin sculptures and other notable art works.

Lombard Street
Find out where the “crookedest” street is and how to get there. One of the top San Francisco attractions.

Maritime National Historical Park
Commonly called Hyde Street Pier, this outdoor park has some great old ships to explore.

An entertainment complex that includes several movie theaters and an IMAX screen.

Mission Dolores
Founded, in 1776, its proper name is Mission San Francisco de Asis and it’s one of the oldest surviving Spanish mission churches in the state.

Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
The architecture rivals the art for your interest at this museum designed by Mario Botta, an internationally acclaimed architect.

Nike Missile Site
This Cold War remnant is open to the public once a month. Located in the Marin Headlands, near Sausalito.

Nob Hill
Some call it “snob hill.” Since the 19th century railroad barons lived there, it’s been on of the city’s poshest neighborhoods.

North Beach
North Beach is an Italian veneer laid over a half-Chinese neighborhood, and that’s only the first of its many surprises and contradictions. This is the place to go for old-fashioned Italian food, people-watching in the park and interesting neighborhood shops. ”Little Italy” has much to offer.

Pier 39
Use the Pier 39 visitor guide to find out what you’ll see there and where to park. One of the top San Francisco attractions.

Point Bonita Lighthouse
Just getting to this Marin Headlands lighthouse is half the fun.

Ripley’s Believe it or Not
Weird and weirder, the kind of stuff kids love.

San Francisco Zoo
Some say the whole city is like a zoo, but this is the official one.

Shrine of St Francis of Assisi
Established in 1849, the current structure was built as a parish church in 1860. Today, it’s the shrine of the city’s patron saint.

The Presidio
It was a military base for over 200 years, but now it belongs to the National Park Service. Over 1500 acres of land with hiking trails and terrific views.

Union Square
It’s the third-largest shopping area in the United States.  One of the city’s three original parks, it’s now a public space atop a multi-level underground parking garage and ringed with elegant shops and hotels. The Powell cable car line begins about a block away, and the theatre district is nearby.Get a street-by-street guide to the square and surrounding area.

Victorian Houses
The “painted ladies” seem synonymous with San Francisco. Some of the best are found near Alamo Square and others are famous from films and television programs.

Walt Disney Family Museum
A guide to visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, includes how to get there, what to see, how long it takes

Wave Organ
A wave-activated acoustic sculpture.

Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf
You know the drill – somewhat lifelike-looking models of famous people made from wax. You either like that kind of thing or you don’t.

Zoo: Located on the west side of town, they’re very active in California condor preservation and home to about 700 animals representing almost 200 species.

If you plan to visit more than a couple of these popular sights, you can save money by getting a Go Card or a San Francisco CityPass. Which one is right for you will depend on how many things you want to do.

San Francisco Attractions—discount coupons available at www.Groupon.com/san-francisco

Fisherman’s Wharf Pass, 16 Wharf Attractions, 37 Discounts, Save up to $42. www.WharfPass.com/Discount_Pass

FGourmet Walks has Chocolate Tours Wine Tours & new Hayes Valley tour. www.GourmetWalks.com

Tours SFTop San Francisco Tours: Alcatraz, Napa & More. www.AllSanFranciscoTours.com

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