San Francisco
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Top attractions in San Francisco

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Top 10 things to do in San Francisco

Once known as the "Paris of the West," the gold-rush population boom made San Francisco a polycultural hub long before its Summer of Love. Here are some of the top attractions of this iconic west coast metropolis.

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

Alcatraz has had a colorful history but is most famous for being the prison that once held some of the US' most notorious gangsters, from Al Capone to Whitey Bulger.

Washington Square

Washington Square

The once-neglected Washington Square has evolved into an incredibly vibrant pocket of culture. It's now home to some of San Francisco's best restaurants and cafes.

San Francisco Bay

San Francisco Bay

San Francisco Bay actually consists of several bays, and its windy urban beaches make it a popular destination for sailors and windsurfers, as well as those just there for the scenery!

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Standing proud between the Bay and the Pacific, the Golden Gate Bridge is considered by many to be the most beautiful bridge of the industrial age...

San Francisco Bay Bridge

San Francisco Bay Bridge

...But the San Francisco Bay Bridge is a strong contender for that accolade when lit up at night!

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park

Inspired by New York's Central Park, the Golden Gate Park provides a leafy respite from the city, as well as attractions like the Academy of Sciences and Japanese Tea Garden.

Fisherman´s Wharf

Fisherman´s Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf is the touristic center of San Francisco. It boasts seafood restaurants that go back generations, as well as museums, parks, and its own sea lion colony!

Stow Lake

Stow Lake

Stow Lake is the largest and most scenic of the manmade lakes at Golden Gate Park. Its island, Strawberry Hill, offers spectacular downtown views over the treetops.

Alamo Square

Alamo Square

Explore San Francisco's more affluent side with a jaunt around Alamo Square. The neighborhood's hilltop park looks over much of the city, and don't forget its "painted ladies!"

Painted Ladies

Painted Ladies

The Painted Ladies are extravagant Victorian rowhouses which survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. It's astonishing to think so much of the city once looked this way!

Planning Your San Francisco Visit

How many days?

Some would say for as long as you can, so bear in mind that it's a big and busy city with plenty to see and do. First-timers should consider spending at least a week there if possible, though even that might not be enough!

Where to stay?

Which of San Francisco's neighborhoods is best for you depends on the nature of your trip. Fisherman's Wharf will meet all the immediate needs of a fleeting visit, though Union Square is a more neutral and relaxed jumping-off point for tourists. Other neighborhoods each have their own personality so it's worth putting in the research, but high-crime areas to avoid include Bayview, Hunter's Point, Sunnydale, and Visitation Valley.

How to get around?

"San Francisco has one of the world's most unique public transport systems. As well as buses and trains, the city is mostly mobilized by its historic cable-car network. Although newer trams do operate, visitors may want to ride one of the older ones for the novelty. Be warned though, notable routes such as the F-Market & Wharves line tend to get very crowded!
The city is also very bike-friendly,with extensive bicycle lanes and even bike lockers!"

Good to know

  • Language
    English
  • Currency
    USD ($)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (-08:00)
  • Country Code
    +1
  • Best time to visit
    Summer, Fall

Things to Do in San Francisco

Top Attractions in San Francisco

Cities in United States

Other Sightseeing Options in San Francisco

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What people are saying about San Francisco

Overpriced but only way to go to Alcatraz on short notice.

The voucher that we received was a bit misleading as it said we had to be there by 8:30, but our tour to Alcatraz didn't start until 10:30. Our tour to Muir Woods was supposed to start at 2:00, which did not give us much time for the tour of Alcatraz including the ferry wait time, getting back to the meeting point, etc. Sausalito was only 20 minutes which was also not made clear on the voucher. Also the bus driver was about a half hour late going to Muir Woods.

Muir Woods, Sausalito and Alcatraz Adventure Reviewed by Dorothy, 07/06/2019

Great way to see the best bits of San Francisco

this was a first time on a Segway for both me and my son so we did not know what to expect. The Team @ Segway Tours gave us a great induction and took us out shortly after and i must say it was great fun and a really good way to see many of the sights of San Francisco. i would highly recommend this tour as it turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. Nick who took us out on the tour was also great fun.

Awesome! A must do on your vacation! Wheelchair accessible!

It was super fun and we learned a lot from the audio narration around the bay. It is everything you want to see starting at pier 40 1/2 but right next to pier 39 (shopping and food) to the coast around the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. For a great activity worth the admission for a great hour cruise. It’s a must do family activity! I’m also in a wheelchair so it is very safe and accessible!

Golden Gate Bay Cruise Reviewed by Kevin, 06/28/2019

One of our best experiences in San Francisco!

This trip is my granddaughter’s Senior experience with her Nana. I have been to San Francisco many times but, this was the first sunset cruise. Wonder why I waited so long!! We had a great time! Would recommend it highly. Could not have asked for better time. We were graciously catered to by the crew, food was plentiful, drinks super, they went above & beyond to see that we had a great experience!!

Fantastic tour!! Best way to see San Francisco!

Had a fantastic experience on the scooters, was a bit wary at first but confidence soon grew with the instructor Cass training us and then taking us out. Loved the audio radio mic commentary and was such a great way to see San Francisco! Absolutely loved the experience, loved our guide and would definitely recommend! Thanks!