Voted America's top city in numerous surveys, colorful and cosmopolitan San Francisco invariably charms visitors. While you're in town, here are the top 9landmarks and attractions to visit.
Golden Gate Bridge
The 1.7-mile-long Golden Gate Bridge is one of America's top ten construction marvels and a must-see on any trip to San Francisco. Over 80 years old, this graceful span (which connects to Marin county) is an unforgettable icon to drive, walk, or cycle across. Or to fly by on a seaplane.
Golden Gate Park
Contemplate your next move in Golden Gate Park. Within its thousand-plus acres are gardens, lakes, bridal and walking paths, Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, and the tranquil Japanese Tea Garden, originally part of the 1894 World's Fair Exhibit. Tea drinkers overlook a waterfall and pond framed by fragrant wisteria.
California Academy of Sciences
There's really nothing else like the California Academy of Sciences. Combining innovative architecture and exciting exhibitions, the Academy is home to Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium, the Kimball Natural History Museum, and a four-story rainforest under one green roof.
AddressFisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, CA, USA
The city's most popular destination, Fisherman's Wharf overlooks San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. The historic waterfront still serves as a working fishing pier, so expect fresh seafood at area restaurants. Nearby San Francisco attractions Pier 39, The Cannery, and Ghirardelli Square are touristy, but prove irresistible to many visitors.
A short ferry ride on the Blue and Gold Fleet deposits you on Alcatraz Island, and the self-guide brochure directs you from the former penitentiary's dock to its cell house. Evening tours, led by park guides, are also available on this island-of-no-escape in the San Francisco Bay (Ferry departs Pier 41).
San Francisco Cable Cars
Moving historic landmarks, the Cable Cars of San Francisco operate seven days a week along century-old routes. For a unique tour of the city, take the California Street line, which runs from the Financial District, through Chinatown, and over Nob Hill. The Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde lines both terminate near Fisherman's Wharf. Board in San Francisco wherever you see a brown-and-white stop sign.
A dragon-draped archway at the intersection of Bush and Grant streets announces the entrance to Chinatown in San Francisco. Streets teem with fish and vegetable stalls, herbal shops, temples, and eateries. (Lichee Garden, Hunan Home's, and R&G restaurants all rate high with diners.) Museums include the Chinese Historical Society of America and Chinese Culture Center.
AddressNorth Beach, San Francisco, CA, USA
In between appointments, stroll over to North Beach, San Francisco's Italian neighborhood, for a snack. The espresso is strong and the cannoli sweet at Caffe Trieste, and century-old Molinari's deli appeases the hungry. Once fortified, pay a visit to City Lights Bookstore, Mecca for bohemians and serious book-lovers alike.
AddressAlamo Square, San Francisco, CA, USA
Postcard-worthy views include Alamo Square, where San Francisco's circa-1900 Victorian homes are juxtaposed against the towering backdrop of downtown's skyscrapers. The area is bounded by Broderick Street and Webster Street to the east and west and Oak street and Golden Gate Avenue to the north and south. Lombard Street, the world's crookedest, is also a sight to behold. Its vertiginous path winds past ornate houses and descends steeply (between Hyde and Leavenworth streets).