Last summer I visited San Francisco for the first time and I was really pleased of the experiences I had during my vacation. I'm sure every time you hear the city name you will basically only refer to the Golden Gate Bridge. And I do not blame you, I used to do the same but after actually being there I can tell you there is a lot more fun and interesting places to visit besides the famous bridge. There's the Victorian architecture all around the city, Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz Island, Ghirardelli Square and more. I am going to narrate from my experiences there to give you a rough idea on what to expect from the city if you ever decide to take a vacation there. You do not have to take my word for it but I hope it serves you as a basic tourist guide. These are listed in the order I visited them:
Probably the main reason I visited Chinatown first was because it was close to our hotel. Coming here was like actually traveling out of the country. I would say 95% of the people there are chinese-oriental and the remaining tourists from all over the world. Here you will have a sneak peak of what the Chinese culture feels like. There's a big park where you'll see people of all ages involved in different activities. The ones that practiced more my attention were a group of grown woman playing some kind of deck cards. There was also a large group of men making some kind of bets but I could not understand what exactly that was. The main attraction here i think it has to be the architecture and all of the shops and restaurants. They have all kinds of interesting collectibles and souvenirs that you can get there. If you want to taste the closest to a real chinese dish here in the US, I doubt there's a better place than here. There are a lot of restaurants you can choose and believe me, you will not be disappointed. That was by far the best chinese food I've ever had.
You have probably heard about this historic place or at least seen it in some Hollywood movie.The Rock, as it is known, has served as a military fort, a military prison and a penitentiary. Nowadays is one of the main tourist attractions in San Francisco. There is a ferry at the Embarcadero (bay area) that takes you over to the island. Among many things you will enjoy by going to Alcatraz, is the fabulous view you will have of the bay. Once in the island you will have a tour guided with an electronic device that you can pause and rewind anytime you want and it is available in many languages. This way you can take the tour at your own pace. You will get access to the facility like the inmate's lunch room and playground area. Of course you can not miss getting inside of an actual cell. One of the most famous prisoners of the island was the gangster Al Capone. There's a lot of history you can learn in this tour and memorable images of the island.
Sausalito & Muir Woods
This is a small town north of San Francisco. It features a large variety of seafood restaurants mainly. It is a good place to go and spend several hours walking around the shops and mentioned restaurants. Food was pretty good at the restaurant we went to. If you are a wine lover, Sausalito is a good place to taste some of the best wines locally produced in the state of California. You can arrange a boat tour around town as well. The Muir Woods is a National park where the main attraction are the Sequoia. These are giant trees that have grown for hundreds of years. It is pretty cool to take pictures and walk around the park right next to all those guys.
Fisherman's Wharf & Ghirardelli Square
This is located at the north side of the city. It features various attractions like looking at the sea lions taking a sun bath right by the docks. Restaurants here are also highly recommended. You can take a walk along the Embarcadero and enjoy the bay view. It's about a mile long walk but its totally worth it. It starts at the Ferry Building and you finish at Fisherman's Wharf. If you like the nightlife and entertainment then you can find go to the PARLOR Bar, Lounge & Club or the Teatro ZinZanni and you can have a good time. From the Wharf you can take tours to various places by taking the ferry that leave from there. Not too far from here is the Ghirardelli Square. It is the famous chocolate factory that established there a long time ago.
Lombard ST & Cable Cars
Lombard St is that steep crooked street you've seen in many movies. It might not sound like a lot to do but it is actually fun to take a walk down street and take pictures at that spot. You can either start at the top or at the bottom. San Francisco is famous for its cable cars. They are basically a local public type of transportation. You can buy tickets to ride them all over town and they are not expensive. There is an out of service cable car parked nearby Ghirardelli square that you can ride and take pictures on it.
This is one of the main points of gathering for tour buses. It is like an open plaza with fountains and sculptures full of locals and tourists. It is centric and you can find a large variety of restaurants. If you enjoy shopping then this is the place to go. You will find all kinds of stores from local designers, sports outlets, international designers and more. This is also a good place to book your hotel. There are a lot of hotels of all sorts and widgets here.
Golden Gate Park and Bridge
The Golden Gate Park is the largest park in the city and it features places like the Japanese Tea Gardens. Which I visited and it is pretty cool. Not only features Japanese botanic but also has some nice Japanese architecture that you can take nice pictures of. There you can also find the San Francisco Botanical Garden, California Academy of Sciences and Conservatory of Flowers. You can just walk around the park and enjoy the contact of nature with more than a million trees in it. And of course I had to mention the Golden Gate Bridge. You can not leave the city without visiting this majestic piece of architecture. Particularly right before the sunset. There are a couple of good spots from where you can have the best views of the bridge
Something to consider when visiting San Francisco, is how the weather changes quickly. It gets cold pretty quick especially if the fog from the bay gets into the city. I recommend carrying a light jacket and comfortable shoes because you'll be doing a lot of walking. Also, if you are planning on renting a car, consider that parking is scarce everywhere and be ready to pay up to $ 40 for parking even at your hotel. An alternative for car rental is if you buy a pass for those double deck tour buses. They are cheap and they go pretty much to all of the places I mentioned. You can hop on and off anytime you want as long as your pass is still valid. Good luck in on your trip and have fun at the bay!
Source by Joe Mora