San Francisco Sights - Best of the Rest

Walking on the Golden Gate Bridge
••• Walking on the Golden Gate Bridge. ©2007 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
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    Take In the View from Twin Peaks

    View From Twin Peaks, San Francisco
    ••• View From Twin Peaks, San Francisco. ©2006 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    Maybe you've visited all the top sights and attractions; perhaps your tastes are different than the "typical" tourist, or you'd like to see more of San Francisco than its tourist veneer. Try a few of these sights, the "best of the rest."

    Start Here: Take In the View from Twin Peaks

    It's on the 49-Mile Drive, but you don't have to do the whole thing to see it. On a clear day at Twin Peaks, you'll be rewarded with iconic views in every direction.

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    See Union Square - Even if You Don't Shop

    Union Square in San Francisco
    ••• Union Square, San Francisco. Navid Baraty / Getty Images / Getty Images

    One of San Francisco's three original city parks, Union Square is now a public space atop a multi-level underground parking garage and ringed with elegant shops and hotels. The Powell cable car line begins about a block away, and the theater district is nearby. ​​

    Here's what you need to know before you go to Union Square

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    Walk the Golden Gate Bridge

    Tourists on the Golden Gate Bridge
    ••• Walking on the Golden Gate Bridge. Feargus Cooney / Getty Images

    It's beautiful to look at and fun to drive over, but a walk is the only way to experience the Golden Gate Bridge fully. At the center, you get its full scale, standing more than 200 feet above the water with the towers rising almost 300 feet above your head.

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    Look East at Sunset, Not West

    View From Golden Gate National Recreation Area Golden Gate Bridge With City Of San Francisco In The Background; San Francisco California Coast United States Of America
    ••• Golden Gate Bridge at Sunset. Stuart Westmorland / Getty Images

    On clear days, the Marin Headlands are a perfect place for a romantic, twilight view of the bridge and the city behind it.

    To get there, drive north on US Hwy 101, exit at the first exit after the bridge, then turn left and drive uphill on Conzelman Road. Skip the first busy parking area and go halfway up the hill instead.

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    Baker Beach: Best Golden Gate Bridge View

    Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach
    ••• The view from Baker Beach. Karsten May/Getty Images

    Baker Beach boasts one of the best Golden Gate Bridge views in the city, but the vistas aren't its only attraction. Fishermen, tourists, and dog-walkers roam the beach, ignoring nearby sunbathing nudists with typical San Francisco tolerance.

    Before you go, see this guide to Baker Beach.

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    Go to Ocean Beach and the Cliff House

    Ocean Beach in San Francisco, California USA
    ••• Cliff House on Ocean Beach. Mark Miller / Getty Images

    This west-facing beach area has been a San Francisco favorite since 1863, when the first Cliff House was built. The restaurant, while popular, offers mediocre food and poor service at high prices, but that's no reason to stay away - the surroundings are much more rewarding. The beach is popular for all forms of water recreation, kite flying, and fishing.

    More about Ocean Beach and the Cliff House.

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    See What's in North Beach

    San Francisco, California, USA
    ••• Caffe Trieste in North Beach. Izzet Keribar / Getty Images

    San Francisco's North Beach is an Italian veneer laid over a half-Chinese neighborhood, and that's only the first of its many surprises and contradictions. This is the place to go for old-fashioned Italian food, people-watching in the park and interesting neighborhood shops.

    Nearby Coit Tower offers panoramic bay and city views from the top of Telegraph Hill — and 1930s San Francisco time capsule captured in its murals.

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    Sample the Ferry Building Marketplace

    San Francisco Ferry Building
    ••• San Francisco Ferry Building. Rudy Sulgan / Getty Images

    One of the city's liveliest venues, the Ferry Building Marketplace is full of local artisan food shops and restaurants, and the site of weekly farmers' markets.

    T​o enjoy your visit more, check this guide to the Ferry Building Marketplace

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    Gingerbread You Can't Eat: Victorian Architecture

    Victorian houses in Haight-Ashbury
    ••• Victorian houses in Haight-Ashbury. Rudy Sulgan / Getty Images

    The "painted ladies" Victorian Houses seem synonymous with San Francisco. Some of the best are found near Alamo Square. But there's more, including some that are famous from their appearances in films and television programs.

    Get up close and personal with a few of these ladies:  See the Guide to San Francisco's Victorian Houses.

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    Visit San Francisco's Art Museums

    The Thinker
    ••• The Thinker at the Legion of Honor. Smith Collection/Gado / Getty Images

    San Francisco's premier art museums include The Palace of the Legion of Honor which holds an impressive collection of Rodin statues, including The Thinker, the M. H. de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, near the Convention Center south of Market Street.

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    More Things to Do in San Francisco

    San Francisco Morning
    ••• San Francisco Morning Fog. David Safanda / Getty Images

    If you're going to San Francisco you may need some help finding things to do that are best for you. If you want to just see the most popular sights, check them out in the guide to Top Things to Do in San Francisco. If your budget is tight, San Francisco has more things to do for free than you might imagine. You'll find those in Things to Do for Free in San Francisco.

    In case the weather doesn't cooperate, you might need to know about Things to Do On a Rainy Day in San Francisco.​ After dark, look for some Things to Do at Night In San Francisco - Year Round or Things to Do on a Summer Night in San Francisco.

    What Not to Do

    You don't want to sound and look like a dumb San Francisco tourist or waste your time on trashy tourist spots. Whatever you do, don't do these 16 things when you go to San Francisco.