I’ve now visited San Francisco twice in less than a year and I can honestly say (cross my heart) that this is one of my favourite cities in the entire world. I thought I loved it during my first visit in December 2013 (during winter), however, having recently been back in August 2014 (summer time), my love for this city has grown immensely.
It’s not surprising to people when I say that I love San Francisco, I am definitely not the only one. Its architecture, locals, shopping, transport, historic landmarks and modern sites make this city a must see when visiting not only California, but the U.S.A.
So you’re probably wondering what in particular in San Francisco should you be seeing so you, like so many others, will rate this city so highly? Never fear, here are 7 San Francisco attractions not to be missed:-
Golden Gate Bridge
The ‘tourist icon’ for San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge has been a spectacle since its opening in May, 1937 after almost 4 years of construction. Its ‘International Orange’ colour is painted on year round (by the time you go from one end to the other, it’s time to go back and do it all again!), the Golden Gate Bridge definitely makes a statement. There are many locations for photos of or with the bridge; it can be seen from Alcatraz for those scenic panoramic shots, otherwise the visitor areas on either side of the bridge also have fantastic opportunities for photos with or without you in them. Weather can be quite unpredictable in San Francisco, so be prepared for fog, sunshine, rain or clouds to feature in your photographs.
Now this is one famous rock! Originally a military reservation in the 1850’s, it wasn’t until the 1930’s that Alcatraz become a federal penitentiary and home to some of the most notorious prisoners of that time. Alcatraz was a prison for the worst of the worst prisoners out there, “break the rules and you go to prison, break the prison rules and you go to Alcatraz” is a quote seen upon entry to the prison that has always stuck in my mind. After serving as a prison it was occupied by American Indians until nowadays being classed as a National Park and is federally protected. You can do tours of Alcatraz during the day and evening to see this incredible part of San Francisco history yourself!
After your trip to Alcatraz it’s worth checking out Fisherman’s Wharf (or Pier 33). With restaurants, souvenir stores, specialty shops, one of the most delicious chocolate stores called Chocolate Heaven and more, this is one area thriving with tourists, but rightly so. A little further down the pier you’ll also find groups of sea lions perched on the sides of the dock eating or lying in the sun. They are generally there year round and be warned, you can smell them before you see them!
Union Square is the main shopping hub of San Francisco and is home to restaurants, designer stores such as Swarovski and Tiffany and Co to your favourites including Macy’s, Nike and Victoria’s Secret. In the middle of Union Square is the famous Dewey Monument and more recently has become a host to the Hearts in San Francisco fundraiser, organised by the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation since 2004.
The San Francisco Cable Cars are the last manually operated cable cars in the world and are a spectacle in themselves. They are pulled along by an underground wire in order to get these cars up and down the hills in the San Francisco area and are operated by a ‘Gripman’. With many routes around the city, the cable cars are a very efficient and inexpensive way to get around.
Dubbed ‘The crookedest street in the world’ Lombard Street has been a tourist site in San Francisco for years! However, its famous title isn’t actually true, but that doesn’t make this street any less of a spectacle with its eight turns in the one block. Take a drive down or walk it yourself to get some awesome photos of this unique street and also some great views of the city from the top.
Located on the top of Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower offers some of the best views of the city and the bay that you can find in San Francisco. Completed in 1933 and recently reopened after maintenance, Coit Tower has been a a welcomed part of the stunning San Francisco skyline. Tickets for the elevator to the top of the tower can be purchased for only $7 for non-resident adults.
San Francisco has definitely stolen my heart! Although quite expensive to live, visiting San Francisco should definitely be on anyones list of cities to see whilst in North America. The city, the bay, the people, the sights, the shopping, the history and the food… need I say more?
All posts are by GlobalWhispers2014 and are entirely my own opinions, views and experiences.