San Francisco: a chilly, hilly, and windy city by the bay. This city stands out for its world-class culture, fine cuisine, vibrant waterfront, and Victorian architecture. With such a broad tourist offer, you’ll never feel bored there. Let’s take a look at the top attractions of this amazing California city!
1. Lombard Street
Lombard Street is for sure one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco, visited by millions of tourists every year. Also known as the “Crookedest Street in the World,” the steep street was created with sharp turns (eight in total) that make it very sinuous and scenic.
And what’s more: The street is surrounded by elegant Victorian mansions and colorful flowers. The view is breathtaking on both ends: at the top you’ll enjoy the panorama of the San Francisco Bay, while from the bottom you’ll take the perfect picture, encapsulating curves, houses, and flowers!
2. Pier 39
Pier 39, situated on San Francisco’s waterfront, is the most visited attraction in San Francisco. It includes two levels of shopping and dining and other attractions, including the Aquarium, free shows, and the famous sea lions, who can be seen every day at K-Dock.
Pier 39 is also known for its fresh and delicious seafood (from clam chowder, to shrimps, to sushi, to Italian dishes) which is served in its 14 restaurants. And all these while admiring at the views of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, Alcatraz and the city skyline!
Alcatraz is a tiny island located around 2 km off San Francisco’s shore. The island served as a military fortification, a military prison, and, finally, as a maximum-security Federal prison between 1933 and 1963. Most of the prisoners incarcerated on the island were people who refused to conform to the rules at other Federal institutions, who were violent or dangerous, or who were considered escape risks. Several well-known criminals have been locked in Alcatraz, including Al Capone, Alvin Karpis, and Robert Franklin Stroud. The island is now a tourist attraction.
4. Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate is the famous bridge connecting San Francisco Bay with Marin County. With its signature orange color and its Art Deco style, the Golden Gate Bridge has been declared one of the modern wonders of the world. The bridge has a length of 2,737 m and a height of 727 m. Back when it was opened in 1937, it was the longest suspension bridge ever created. It includes sweeping main cables and six traffic lanes, carrying millions of passengers every year.
5. Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf is a scenic waterfront attraction that rests on a piece of land made from the ruins of buildings destroyed in the earthquake and the fire of 1906. There, you can taste some fantastic food in easy-going outdoor stands, or elegant gourmet restaurants serving fresh fish and seafood. You can’t absolutely miss the sweet Dungeness crab, which is served in different ways, such as crab cakes, soups, risottos, salads, and chowders. The wharf is also the starting point for many exciting tours and cruises.
6. Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts is a building that is registered on the U.S National Register of Historic Places and also a San Francisco Designated Landmark. The palace was built in 1915 in occasion of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The structure – designed by Bernard Maybeck – initially served as a temporary pop-up museum and it is now a permanent art gallery. The Greco-Romanesque-style palace is set inside a lagoon, which hosts many types of wildlife including swans, ducks, and geese.
San Francisco is home of the biggest Chinatown outside of Asia, as well as the oldest one in North America. The most famous and biggest street is Grant Avenue, which is also the most picturesque and touristic area. But San Francisco’s Chinatown includes also tiny alleys, numerous parks and two hospitals. The streets are packed with various shops – such as Chinese herbal shops and tea stores – and, obviously, with many restaurants serving authentic traditional Chinese cuisine.
8. Ferry Building Marketplace
Opened in 1898, the historic Ferry Building was a transportation focal point for people arriving by ferryboat to San Francisco. Once the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge were opened and the automobile became more popular, the Ferry Building started to be used very little. In 1955, it was converted into an office space. In 2003, after 4 years of renovation, it reopened to the public and became a marketplace. Today, the Ferry Building Marketplace is San Francisco’s largest farmer’s market, and a vibrant gathering of local artisan producers, farmers, and independently owned food businesses.
Inside the Ferry Building you’ll find many permanent merchants. Outside the building, the farmers organize an outdoor market three times a week, where you’ll find fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, meats, prepared food and much more
The Ferry Building is also famous for its dramatic white clock tower that has been the landmark of San Francisco’s waterfront for more than 100 years.