San Francisco tourist guide
San Francisco is a beautiful city steeped in history. From its steep rolling hills and Victorian architecture to the serenity of the city’s cable car system, San Francisco has something for everyone. Remember to pack some warm clothing when visiting the city as even during the summer months the average temperature is 15°C and gets considerably colder in the evening.
Here are our must see attractions in San Francisco:
San Francisco Chinatown
Established in the 1840’s, San Francisco Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in the US and is the largest outside of Asia. Set up by Chinese merchants and immigrant workers during the Gold Rush, San Francisco Chinatown was built to be a little piece of home for the foreign workers, but over the years has become a popular tourist spot in its own right.
Traditional Chinese architecture can be seen throughout the town which provides a great insight into the art, culture and cuisine of the Chinese.
Said to be one of the most crookedest streets in the world, and possibly the most famous street in San Francisco, Lombard Street is famed for a one-block section of the road that consists of eight tight hairpin turns.
Originally designed to reduce the hills natural 27% grade, which was too steep for most vehicles in the 1920’s, Lombard Street is now a popular tourist attraction. Bring a camera, because the views from the top (and the bottom) are remarkable or you could always find your adventurous side and drive down it yourself.
Picture: Peter Hijenhuis
No trip to San Francisco is complete without a ride on the iconic and world-famous cable car network. There are currently three cable car routes in operation in the city at the moment, so it is important to know their respective destinations before jumping on-board.
The cable cars run seven days a week, although there is a special schedule on weekends; tickets cost approximately $5.00 each way and can be purchased at turnarounds or from the conductor as you board.
Riding the cable cars is a great experience for the whole family and gives you an insight into what life would have been like for residents in years gone by, but bear in mind that they are extremely busy on a weekend so expect queues if you plan to travel on a Saturday or Sunday.
Picture: Digital Archaeology
Often referred to as ‘The Rock’, Alcatraz Island is home to the former high-security Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. The prison housed some of the most notorious criminals of all time including Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly, and during its 29 years of operation officials claimed that no prisoner successfully escaped.
The prison closed in 1963 and since then has been protected by the National Park Service. It is now one of the most popular tourist locations in San Francisco, attracting over 1.5 million visitors each year.
Visitors can reach the island by ferry from Pier 33; tickets can be purchased up to 90 days in advance and cost $38 each.
Golden Gate Bridge
Picture: Manuel Calavera
The Golden Gate Bridge is an internationally recognized icons of San Francisco and California. When it was completed in 1937, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. The iconic orange/red colour was chosen to make the bridge more visible during the frequent fog that surrounds the bay.
Although you can drive, walk or cycle over the bridge, it is best viewed from afar and there are various points in the city to get a fantastic view. Hawk Hill, Kirby Cove and Alcatraz Island all provide spectacular views of the bridge, or if you want to get a bit closer Fort Point has some impressive views of the bridge from down below.