Discover San Francisco what to do?
San Francisco. An eccentric, polyhedral, extravagant city, it will conquer you.
Whether we are going to California on the Road or visiting the city on a trip from New York, San Francisco is a must-see!
It has the sea and some hills, the climate is famous for being cool (or cold ?!) even in the summer, and the attractions offered are many, even though it is not a huge city.
Two or three days can be enough to discover the beauties that characterize this city!
San Francisco what do do ?
Where to sleep? The Market Street and Powell Street areas are strategic spots where you can find an hotel, just a short walk from downtown San Francisco, Union Square.
San Francisco what do do – Day 1: Union Square and Financial District – Chinatown – Ferry Building – Coit Tower – Lombard Street
We are in the heart of San Francisco, Union Square.
Luxurious hotels, shops, important buildings, this square is a meeting place. If you come here for breakfast, do not miss the Cheescake Factory, you will be thrilled with the mega slice of cake!
At the corner of Market Street and Powell Street you must take a pic to the most famous tram stop in town; the drivers who turn the cable cars (trams) before starting the return journey are the protagonists of one of the most appreciated hits by the tourists in the city.
In just about 20 minutes you will be in the middle of the San Francisco Financial District, where San Francisco’s biggest financial exchanges take place, where you can admire one of the city’s monument, Transamerica Pyramid, or Transamerica Pyramid Building. From its height of 260 meters, it is the tallest building in San Francisco and it’s characterized, as its name suggests, by its pyramidal shape, which makes it unmistakable!
Walking for another 10 minutes you will be in the oldest district (built in the 1950s) of the city and also one of the largest, Chinatown.
While enter, pay attention to the main entrance door in the corner of Bush Street and Grant Avenue, Dragon’s Gate, built according to Chinese architecture.
It is now considered a symbol of the district that every tourist visit.
Are you excited? Now we go to Embarcadero, a neighborhood on whose background you can see the Bay Bridge, one of the two bridge symbols of the city; but the real reason we are here is the Ferry Building (we will arrive here from Chinatown in about 20 minutes by walk).
It was built in 1898, and its tall tower with clock makes it a beautiful building to be photographed and to be visited, even inside. Some years ago it was considered an important hub for transport, but today the Ferry Building is touristy and offers culinary specialties, especially when the square is propped up by numerous stalls, the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.
To find out the days of market, just visit the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market website !
Let’s take a break, and resume our journey to discover San Francisco.
If we are too tired, we can go to the next destination with the comfort of the car; Alternatively we will reach it in a ten minute walk, starting from the Ferry Building. I’m talking about Coit Tower.
Here is another icon in San Francisco, on top of Telegraph Hill, the Coit Tower is a 64-meter high tower, giving you an unbelievable view over the city.
Inaugurated in 1938, you can climb it comfortably in the elevator, and at the top the 360 degree panorama will be amazing.
On this first day, we are enriched by the peculiarity of San Francisco! I would like to finish the day by strolling for the famous Lombard Street.
Considered the most winding road in the world, with its steep bends and a slope that touches 20%, Lombard Street is a popular destination for tourists who with a camera take beautiful shoots.
Lombard Street is located on the Russian Hill, an important hilltop town named after an ancient cemetery where Russian mariners were buried at the beginning of 1800.
And for dinner? There are plenty of restaurants around the corners of the city.
I recommend “Bouche” 603, Bush Street; it is so good and it has been included in the book “Where Chefs Eat” !
San Francisco what do do – Fisherman’s Warf – Pier39 – Alcatraz – Golden Gate and Golden Gate Park
If we don’t want to walk, today we can opt for the car, even if parking is difficult and extremely expensive, otherwise public transports are quite efficient! Having said that, go to Fisherman’s Warf, the old port of the city.
Really crowded at Fisherman’s Wharf, don’t miss it!
The atmosphere is breathtaking, festive with a unique panorama, and if there is no fog the Golden Gate at the bottom will allow you to have unique beauty photos and wonderful memories.
The heart of Fisherman’s Warf is Pier 39, a pier that houses many restaurants, all kinds of shops, rides and even the aquarium of the city (highly recommended!)
Walk around the pier, enjoy the scenery and get to know the sea lions that lie on the floating platforms … Not to be missed!
Right in front, the now famous island of Alcatraz, once the highest security prison, is well-known for the severity and stiffness the prisoners were subjected to. There were many known names of people who passed away from this prison, Al Capone, to name one, spent a lot of time here.
It’s possible to reach the island and take a guided tour in the prison (now closed since 1963) where, with an audio guide available in several languages, you know more closely the life of the detainees and some of the events that have made some of them popular; I’m talking about the famous evasion of Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Calrence Anglin, who with fake paper heads with their resemblance, made it possible for the guards to believe they were asleep while they escaped without leaving traces. (I suggest watching the movie “Escape from Alcatraz” telling the story in detail).
Alcatraz is a piece of history that, though sad, deserves to be known.
We mentioned a few lines ago, the famous Golden Gate, the great red bridge linking the Pacific Ocean with the San Francisco Bay, joining San Francisco at Marin county.
Opened in 1937, it has 6 lanes for automotive traffic, a pedestrian walkway and a bicycle lanes, 2.71 km long supported by 2 huge pylons designed to withstand the strong winds currents of the bay. It is the most important symbol of san francisco.
There are many ways to see the Golden Gate, cross it by car, photograph it from a distance or take a ride by hiring a bicycle to Sausalito, a delightful seaside resort called Portofino of America.
For those who want to know the best points in the city to admire it, we can mention the Fort Point Lookout to the south and the Vista Point viewpoint north of the bridge.
We finish our day at Golden Gate Park.
Despite its name, it is not related in any way to the Golden Gate Bridge, but it represents the largest park in San Francisco, rich in greenery but at the same time it offers the opportunity to admire interesting attractions.
We can simply walk around feeling away from the chaotic city, or visit the floral and characteristic San Francisco Botanical Garden and the Japanese Tea Garden (the oldest japanese garden in the United States) or the two museums, the California Academy of Sciences (especially suitable for families with children) and the de Young Museum, an exhibition of American art, African art, oriental and pre-Columbian art.
San Francisco: What to see in the city and its surroundings
And for those who have another day or two at their disposal and want to “look around”, about an hour away heading north from San Francisco, Napa Valley is the most important US wine region and among the most important in the world; for the enthusiasts a tour in a winery, it is not to be missed.
Always an hour away but heading south, instead, we find San Jose.
A family-friendly city but not only, it offers wonderful parks, tours to discover San Jose’s history, unique architectural beauty monuments … this city meets every taste inebriating with its delicate beauty!
If you want to spend around 3 hours in a car, drive to Yosemite National Park. You will be enchanted by its splendor and if you want, in other about 3 hours you will be in Sequoia National Park, believe me it’s worth it !
I hope to have you convinced,
San Francisco is a city that has all the features
to be visited, discovered and undoubtedly loved!
What do you think about it?
This post is also available in: Italiano