6 Attractions You'll Only See in San Francisco
San Francisco is a place that you need to see at least once in a lifetime. There are so many unique attractions that you will only see in this exciting city.
San Francisco is a very unique place, with so much to see and do for visitors of all ages. Here are just some of the attractions that you can experience during your stay in the famous city built on seven hills.
The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a view of this incredible construction.
The 4,200-foot-long suspension bridge was opened in 1937. If it was built today it is estimated that it would cost more than $1 billion to construct.
San Francisco is well-known for its fog. There are many times that the view of the bridge is completely obscured by fog. If you encounter this on your first look just be persistent! The fog usually clears quickly, and you will be rewarded with a magnificent sight of the bridge slowly appearing out of the haze.
A lot of people wonder why the Golden Gate Bridge isn't actually gold in color. The reason is that the name never referred to the color of the bridge itself. Instead it was named after the Golden Gate Strait, which is the part of the Bay where it meets the Pacific Ocean. The paint color name is International Orange, and today the bridge is maintained by a team of 38 painters. It is a never-ending task!
One of the best ways to see the bridge is to walk or ride a bike across it. Access is only during certain hours, which vary according to the season. There are safety railings between the pathway and the traffic lanes. It is 1.7 miles long, so you do need to plan your time accordingly if you are going to walk across and back.
You can also drive across the bridge. There is a toll to pay, which is currently $7.25 for two-axle vehicles. There are viewing points at either side of the bridge for you to stop and take in a closer view.
Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District
If you are visiting San Francisco, you should consider spending a few hours of your time on Alcatraz Island. It is best known for its time as a high-security prison which was almost impossible to escape.
Alcatraz is only accessible by buying a combined ferry and tour ticket. The ferry departs from Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf every day on a regular schedule. You do have to plan ahead to visit as this is a popular attraction with limited access. Tickets are available from Pier 33, online or by phone. An adult ticket costs $31 and there are reduced prices for children, youths, and seniors.
Plan to spend around three hours for the visit to Alcatraz, including time spent on the ferry to get there. Remember that the weather can change very quickly in San Francisco. If you leave Pier 33 in sunshine, it can be foggy and cold by the time you reach Alcatraz, so always take something warm to wear.
The tour around Alcatraz is self-guided but there is plenty of information available for visitors on the walls, and there are videos to watch. Every visitor is also given an audio tour which explains a lot about the history of the island, and what life was like for the prisoners who were held there.
Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing,
Phone Number: 415-981-7625
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park is the fifth most-visited park in the United States, with over 13 million people each year enjoying this beautiful open space. The Golden Gate Park covers more than 1,000 acres in the heart of the city, and is home to gardens, museums, numerous attractions, and even a herd of bison!
If you are visiting San Francisco you should definitely put some time aside to experience Golden Gate Park. You could easily spend a day or more in the park, particularly if you want to visit one of the museums.
The California Academy of Sciences is one of the most popular attractions in the park. It is one of the most visited natural history museums in the world, and houses a huge collection of exhibits. This is a very family-friendly museum for everyone to enjoy. It also houses Steinhart Aquarium and the Morrison Planetarium. Tickets cost $34.95 for adults and $29.95 for concessions. There may also be a separate charge for some exhibitions.
The Japanese Tea Garden is a beautiful, serene place to spend some time. It covers five acres in the Park, and is a wonderful example of a Japanese Garden. It has magnificent trees, plants, a pagoda, and many authentic Japanese features. There is a charge to enter the Tea Garden.
The De Young Museum is a must for art lovers. It houses over 1,000 paintings, and 800 sculptures dating from 1670 up to the present. The design of the outside of the building is very striking, and its tall, twisted tower can be seen for miles around.
The Conservatory of Flowers is housed in a beautiful Victorian building. It is home to a large collection of rare flowers and plant life. There are five distinct rooms in the Conservatory, each housing different collections of plants.
The 1914 Carousel is also a very popular attraction in Golden Gate Park. Visitors can take a ride on this traditional carousel, which was completely renovated in 1984.
San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum is a 55 acre collection with more than 7,500 different species of plants and trees. As a result of the unique climate in San Francisco, it is possible to grow many different species not usually found in other areas of California.
A very unusual feature of Golden Gate Park is the Bison Paddock. The park makes an important contribution to the preservation of these animals. The Bison Paddock is open to viewing by the public.
Even if you just have a couple of hours to spare, it is worth spending some time taking a stroll in Golden Gate Park. It is a very tranquil place to spend some time away from the busy city.
Golden Gate Park
501 Stanyan St.
Phone Number: 415 831-2700
San Francisco Cable Cars
When you visit the city you have to take at least one ride on the San Francisco Cable Cars. It is an excellent way to see the city, and most definitely a unique experience. Cable cars have been running in San Francisco since 1873, and are now a major tourist attraction.
For a truly authentic experience, you have to hang on to the rails on the outside. For the less daring, there is seating inside.
This is a very popular attraction for tourists. This translates to mean that the lines at the start and end of the track are usually long. A wait of up to an hour at busy times is not unusual.
If you want to avoid waiting in the line for so long, do not get on the Cable car at the beginning or the end of the line. It is usually much quicker to wait at one of the stops and hop on if you can. If you are doing this it may be better to view it as a way to get around the city rather than just doing it as a one-off attraction. If you decide to do this you can buy a $17 day ticket instead of the $7 single journey ticket, and hop on and off as you please all day.
Lombard Street is one of the crookedest streets in the world. The slope of the hill is so extreme that the road had to be designed to allow cars to wind around the curves.
The part of Lombard street which is the tourist attraction is the one block between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets.
The best time to visit is in the spring or summer when the colorful flowers in the middle of the curves are in full bloom.
When you are viewing this unique street look to the sides at the houses. This is some of the most expensive real estate in San Francisco, even though the residents must have to endure the crowds for most of the year!
Our advice is to experience this attraction on foot. If you drive down Lombard Street, be prepared for a long wait in traffic at most times of the year.
Fisherman's Wharf is one of the main tourist attractions in San Francisco. It is a tourist trap, but if you can get past that it really is worth spending some time in this area. Tourist attractions include Pier 39, restaurants, souvenir shops, and museums.
Fisherman's Wharf is still a working fishing port, and you can see the fishing boats coming back into the harbor with their fresh catch each day. It is also famous for the large colony of sea lions which lie on the docks enjoying the sunshine. It has been reported that as many as 1,700 of them gather around Pier 39. You will most likely hear the noise before you actually see them. They are pretty loud!
If you are in Fisherman's Wharf you have to sample the famous clam chowder. You will find chain restaurants here, but there are also lots of family-owned restaurants. Some of these have been in the same family for generations. You need to set aside some time to sample some of the fresh seafood when you visit.
There are lots of chances to shop here. One of the best places to shop is Ghiradelli Square where you can browse around the specialty stores and pick up a souvenir.
Fisherman's Wharf is famous for Pier 39. This has shops, restaurants, and The Aquarium of the Bay. You can also get the ferry there to take you to Alcatraz.
There is so much to see and do in San Francisco. We are sure that whatever you choose to do with your time there, you will have an amazing experience. It is truly a city to be enjoyed by all ages.
Powell Street @ Union Square ~ Down Town San Francisco, California
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