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San Francisco Best Places You Must Visit

Updated on February 4, 2013

San Francisco, a treat for all.

San Francisco, also known City by the bay is one of the most liberal cities in the United States. It has a unique combination of shops, culture and neighborhoods that make it unlike any other city anywhere else in the world.

Its ethnic variety and Victorian architecture make it one of more popular places to visit in the United States. Why do people visit San Francisco? It's one of the few places where you can feel like you are in a totally different place after walking a few blocks. It also has an abundance of places to eat, shop, sightsee and enjoy life for all it's worth.

San Francisco sits on a seven by seven mile square of land on the tip of a peninsula located in the middle of California. In 1848, due to the California Gold Rush, San Francisco gained a lot of popularity and population. A lot of Chinese immigrants came from China during this time. Today San Francisco is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States. It is also one of the most liberal and known as the "gay" capital of the world. There are so many things to see around San Francisco, that each place could be an article itself. Here I would like to outline some of the more popular things to do and see in San Francisco.

1. San Francisco Cable Cars

Known as the only moving National Historic Landmark designated in 1964. When Andrew Smith Hallidie saw horse drawn streetcars slide backwards in San Francisco's hilly slopes, he had an idea for pulling cable cars. In 1873, the first cable streetcar service started. The cost was about $85,150.

Today tickets can be purchased for about $3.00 each way. You can also get one day passes which let you ride the cars for one day an unlimited number of times for about $9.00/day, $15/3days, or $20/7days. Where does it go? The routes and destinations can be viewed through the link. In general there are two sets of cable cars: the Powell-Mason, Powell-Dixie, and the California line. Among some stops are Nob Hill, Bay Street, Ghiradelli Square, Aquatic Park, and Fisherman's Wharf. California line runs along Financial District, Chinatown, Nob Hill.

No visit to San Francisco is complete without having seen the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge. It was built in 1937 and its longest span is 4,200 feet, while the total length of the bridge is 8,981. When it was completed, it was the largest suspension bridge in the world. 11 people died during the construction of the bridge. There were also 19 men who were saved due to a net being placed below the constuction. These 19 men were called member of the "Halfway to Hell" club. Prior to the Golden Gate bridge the only way to go across the San Franciso Bay was through ferries. The ferries were congesting the bay area, and finally engineer Joseph Strauss had his way in the 1920s to begin building the bridge across the bay. feet. Today, the Golden Gate bridge is an engineering marvel that epitomizes the city of San Francisco.

The best places for photos from the

South Side: South Vista point, Fort Point, Lincoln Avenue and Baker Beach. The best places for photos from the North side: Marin Headlands and Fort Baker. You can best appreciate the beauty of the Golden Gate bridge when you walk on it. Make sure you walk in it if you can, you will get a whole different perspective of the bridge when you walk on it!

One good way to experience the history of the golden gate bridge is to go with a guide. Cityguides will guide you through some history about the golden gate. The best thing about these guides are that they are free. Of course, donations are always welcome. Cityguides have tours to a lot of different

sies within San Francisco as well.

3. Fisherman's Wharf and Ghiardelli Square

Many tourists come to enjoy Fisherman's Wharf and feel that they have not been to San Francisco without having stoppedby Fisherman's Wharf. It is a great place to enjoy the ocean breeze and to eat crab and/or clam chowder. Along the pathof Fisherman's Wharf to Ghiardelli Square you will find the following attractions:

1. Pier 39 - Full of restaurants, shopping stores, performace artists, Aquarium of the bay and a place where you can see a bunch of sea lions resting on docks. TIP: If you are a AAA member, you can get 20% off of restaurants in Pier39, make sure you visit California Welcome Center that is located on level two at PIER 39 and they will give you a fun pack with discounts.

2. Maritime National Historical Park - includes a fleet of historic vessels, a museum and research facility. learn about the history of San Francisco's maritime history here.

3. Wax museum - Do you want to take a picture next to a movie star? Go and visit this wax museum and discover all the wonderful wax sculptures created. The museum was created in 1963, as a place where visitors to the Fisherman's wharf will come and visit not just for the food but as a place for entertainment. Today it is one of the world's largest wax museums. A typical wax figure can cost between $10,000 to $25,000 depending upon the complexity.

4. Museum Mecanique - Enjoy playing old antique arcade machines as well as coin operated musical instruments. Privately owned, it's worth visiting

5. The Cannery Shopping Center - Used to be a cannery, now it's filled with live music and performers in the courtyard.

Check out the second floor restaurants which have a wonderful view available.

6. Ghirardelli Square - A shopping mall with restaurants and retail for you to get to all your shopping needs. One of the most promominent shops is Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop, famous for its ice cream sundaes. Plenty of events happen year round. My favorite is a chocolate festival in September.

4. Alcatraz Island

A famous former prison, Alcatraz island is a must see in San Francisco. It has amazing beauty, history and it is quite captivating. The prison was closed for on March 21, 1963 due to cost of its operations. It cost $10 per prisoner, whereas nearby facilities only cost $3. During its time, there were 36 prisoners trying to attempt escape on 14 different occasions. None of them succeeded.

San Francisco Traveler's tips

Tip 1: Try to take public transportation. The parking in San Francisco is horrible and it's best to take public transit. Since the city is not that big, you should be able to go anywhere fairly quickly. You can take a cable car pass for the whole day for $11. If you must use public parking, here is a list of parking structures. from the city.

Tip 2. Don't take cable car in popular spots When you want to ride the cable car, don't ride it in popular spots such as Ghirardelli square. If you walk a bit further, it will be much less crowds.

Tip 3. Dress in layers - San Francisco is famous for its microclimates where temperatures may rapidly change as you walk from one place to another, even in the summer. Make sure you dress approriately in layers and take off each layer of clothing as needed.

Tip 4. Alcatraz book early - Alcatraz is quite an attraction so book early. You don't want to go last minute, there won't be any spaces available. You can do it online through alcatrazcruises.

Tip 5. Use coupons from websites like couponloco.com when traveling to SF. Book online with Travelocity, Expedia, or Cheaptickets for best rates. Make sure to check if there are any deals or coupon codes to help you save. San Francisco is a popular destination, so the big travel agencies may offer coupon codes to help you save when booking online.

A great place for a travelocity coupon code from couponloco.com.

An expedia deal or expedia coupon code or deal from couponloco.com may give you lots of savings as well.

Tip 6. Best views - Carnelian Room, Top of the Mark, and Sky Deck

5. Union Square

is considered as one of the four top shopping areas in the nation. Among its features: cafe pavilion with outdoor seating, large central plaza with four entrance corners surrounded by beautiful palm trees. There is a towering monument the bronze goddess Victory. Union Square was initially set aside as a park in 1850 and was named after the frequent demonstrations supporting the Union during the Civil War. Union Square now is a place to shop, have meetings with people, and see shows. Union Square is home to San Francisco's main theater district. If you need discounted tickets you can go to TIX booth at Geary Powell corner on Union Square. There are also many art galleries

worth going to. You will find works of Picasso, Rembrant, Warhol among others. Most of the galleries are located on the storefronts of Geary, Post and Sutter streets. If you plan to do some shopping, try to go during daytime on the

weekdays, it gets very crowded on the weekends.

6. Chinatown

It is the second largest community of Chinese in the United States, the first being in New York. Chinatown's two main streets are Grant and Stockton. Among some sights to see here are: Chinatown Gate, south entrance to Chinatown with dragon-crested gate. Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory - Watch how fortune cookies are made and buy a few. Ten Ren Tea Shop - Offers a sampling of Chinese tea.

7. Golden Gate Park

There is much time to do in this 1,500 square park filled with museums and gardens. You can picnic in Strybing Aroboretum or enjoy the beauty of Japanese Tea Garden. If you are into flowers, you can check out the glass domed Conservatory of Flowers.

1. Conservatory of Flowers - This whtie framed 1878 glass structure is like going to the Amazon rain forest within San Franciscso. The Conservatory has two thousand plant species represented and five galleries. In the Aquatic plants gallery you can see the Vicoria amazonica, a ginat water lilly that can withstand the weight of a small child. In the lowland tropic, you can experience vanilla, cashew and other nuts growing in the wild.

2.Japanese Tea Garden - The oldest public Japanese Garden. It began in 1894 after a World's Fair Exhibit called the Japanese Village. It has many paths, ponds, sculptures and bridges. It's worth an advendure.

3.Beach Chalet - If it's time to eat and you are in Golden Gate park, check out Beach Chalet. They have handcrafted beer and free parking. Get there early or make reservations ahead of time. This restaurant has impressive views of the pacific ocean. They serve Burgers, Ribs, Salmon, and much more!

1000 Great Hwy., Golden Gate Park. 415/386-8439 \

8. Lombard Street

A windy street down a hill that is fun to do and very picturesque. Go through it, take some pictures and say you did it. The reason the street was made this way was so that cars would have an easier time going down the steep gradient. And no, they didn't just do it for the hell of it. The landscape around the street is wonderful as well. If you are curious about the speed limit, it's a mere 5 miles per hour.

Must try food places

Try:

Instead of buying crab from Fisherman's Wharf, Swan's Oyster Depot on Polk Street, it's very fresh.

Boudin Bakery - Best Sourdough bread in town.

Greens Restaurant - The best tasty food for vegeterians.

San Francisco Sights Video

Enjoy this video to the song of "I left my heart in San Francisco". After watching you'll see why it's so lovely.

Please favorite this and leave 5* if you liked it. Thank you!

San Francisco comments

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    • reflectionhaiku profile image

      reflectionhaiku 6 years ago

      Great resourceful lens! Thanks and thumbs up -

    • Padaneis profile image

      Padaneis 6 years ago

      I did appreciate Lombard street: all in al I am Lombard :-) Very nice lens!

    • profile image

      jamescrobo 6 years ago

      Visit the best of museums and shopping malls, San Francisco has a lot of reasons why did you make plan your tour San Francisco in Florida because itâs best place for vacations. All about San Francisco - honeymoons romantic getaways - all you to explore it all by yourself, especially the different places to eat the food eateries in San Francisco a must-visit best restaurants in romantic San Francisco.

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      scar4 6 years ago

      I drove across San Francisco. It was a wonderful city.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 6 years ago from New York

      San Francisco is my very favorite city in the US and you have done a fabulous job presenting it. If I had never been there I would want to go after reading this lens. I love to travel and today I'm computer chair traveling on the Squid Angel Road Trip for Memorial Day weekend. I am leaving you with a Squid Blessing and I also added you to a featured lens module for my Memorial Day journey at My Squid Angel Wings.

    • profile image

      MsSanFran 6 years ago

      You just can't beat eating a sourdough bread bowl filled with clam chowder in San Francisco. It's even better if you go out on the San Francisco Municipal Pier. You can get there by walking west through Aquatic Park and then keep walking along the edge of the bay. It's free and it gets you out on the water so you can see all the boats and happenings much better.

    • JeremiahStanghini profile image

      JeremiahStanghini 6 years ago

      Lensrolled to my SF lens.

    • makingamark profile image

      Katherine Tyrrell 6 years ago from London

      Very nice lens - blessed - and added as a featured lens to "The Royal Visit to California"

    • profile image

      aweresort 6 years ago

      be there in a month!

    • joanv334 profile image

      joanv334 6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      mycomunity 6 years ago

      I love this city. And i am inviting the everyone who never came on San Francisco please came here once and i am sure don't forget the time you spend here and you really enjoyed the San Francisco Events.

    • profile image

      DestinationsHoliday 6 years ago

      Beautifully written about San Francisco! Love SF!

    • mgassistant lm profile image

      mgassistant lm 6 years ago

      This is is handy :) Cheers!

      Business Coupon Club

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 6 years ago

      Oh, you're making me homesick for the bay area! Great photos and lens.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 6 years ago

      It really is a beautiful and unique city. I love your photos.

    • Meloramus profile image

      Meloramus 6 years ago

      I love SF. Can't wait to return!

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 7 years ago from Chicago area

      never met anyone who didn't have fun in glorious SF! nice job here

    • BigFish1 profile image

      BigFish1 7 years ago

      I have always wanted to ride on a trolley ever since I was a kid watching Mr. Rogers. Very nice photos great travel info.

      ===============

      Carpet Cleaning Fargo ND

    • lakshyaa profile image

      lakshyaa 7 years ago

      Wonderfully written lens on San Francisco, and the photos are awesome. 5 stars :)

    • natnickeep lm profile image

      natnickeep lm 7 years ago

      This is a beautiful and well put together lens. I love it!! It really makes me want to head to San Fran right now. If only that were possible. But your lens can help me think I am there at least.

    • profile image

      HabitCoach 7 years ago

      Great lens! I am heading there in less than a week for a holiday and you have made me feel excited about my trip all over again. 5 stars.

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 8 years ago from Idaho

      Wonderful lens, I love your photos! :)

    • profile image

      JobShrink 8 years ago

      Thank you so much for the great lens! I moved from San Francisco a few years ago, but still consider it home. :-) It is such a beautiful place to live and a fabulous place for a vacation.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I love San Francisco! You have some exquisite photos here. Makes me want to go again. 5 stars!

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 8 years ago

      Very nice lens! We were just in San Francisco last week visiting the Exploratorium (that place is always worth a mention) and Golden Gate park (a favorite place to roller blade).

      I love your photos.

    • x3xsolxdierx3x lm profile image

      x3xsolxdierx3x lm 8 years ago

      Your big pictures complement this lens nicely! :) 5 stars

    • profile image

      rockycha 8 years ago

      Congrats on your Giant Squid status! Excellent lens here with wonderfully deep info - love the graphics! Squid angel blessings today :)

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 8 years ago from Massachusetts

      You're right about Alcatraz-- every time I've gone, the tour is booked way in advance. Hopefully next time I'll get to see the inside. Congratulations on making Giant Squid! I'm lensrolling this to my California road trip lens.

    • Andy-Po profile image

      Andy 8 years ago from London, England

      Great lens and photos. I know San Francisco fairly well as I used to stay there each year when I went for my annual pilgrimage to my employer's head-office in Silicon Valley.

      Thanks for your comments on my travelphotographs lens - I hope you are enjoying your new Nikon D90 - that's a great camera.

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 8 years ago

      Good suggestions. If you've got a car and want a good picture of the skyline, take the Bay Bridge to Yerba Buena/Treasure Island. It's particularly beautiful at night!

    • VBright profile image

      VBright 8 years ago

      This is beautiful! I did a lens on Pier 39, but I think it pales in comparison! 5* from me!

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 8 years ago

      I have been to Alcatrez island.

      This is a nice lens on San Francisco.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 8 years ago

      Very nice site about a place close to my heart. I used to live in the Bay Area and I MISS IT soooo much. Makes me home sick. Everyone needs to go there at least once *****

    • GlobalOpps profile image

      Steve & Carol 8 years ago from San Marcos, CA

      You've got some stuff here that even we didn't know about, good job. Welcome to the "Best Places to Visit in California" Group.