San Francisco was founded in 1776. The Gold Rush in 1849 pushed the city into a very fast growth, and increased its population from 1,000 to 25,000 in only one year. Ever since then, San Francisco has constantly been growing, and today it is the second most densely populated city in the U.S. – right after New York.
Even though the city was completely devastated by an earthquake in 1906, San Francisco did not give in, and it was rebuilt, and it continued to grow. Today, it is known as one of the most popular tourist destinations, as well as a center of liberal activism in the U.S. It is famous for many things, and here’s the list of top 7 of them.
Maybe the most popular tourist destination in San Francisco is the island, and the notorious prison of Alcatraz. However, be careful when choosing your tour – some tours may claim that they offer a trip to Alcatraz, but they might simply drive you around it without stopping.
Once known as the prison that was home for many notorious criminals, including Al Capone, Robert “The Birdman” Stroud and John “Machine Gun” Kelly, to name just a few, Alcatraz is today only a tourist attraction. Apart from the prison, the island itself is truly beautiful and worth seeing. Bear in mind that a tour to Alcatraz will take up at least half of your day, so plan wisely.
One of the things San Francisco is known for, is, its Chinatown. Home to the largest population of Chinese people outside of China, San Francisco’s Chinatown is so authentic that it will make you believe you are actually in China.
Although the usual tourist walk offers a stroll down one or two streets, buying a couple of souvenirs and having a bite to eat, you can always be more adventurous and explore a bit more. Check out the hidden alleys and look for Chinese markets, and herbal shops. Have a taste of authentic Chinese food and don’t forget to take photos.
3. The Golden Gate Bridge
The iconic structure of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge lies in the San Francisco bay. One of the largest suspension bridges in the world, this sight is the one you have to visit in San Francisco, or you might as well haven’t visited the city at all.
The Golden Gate Bridge was built in 1937. It is visible from almost any part of the city, but unless you come close and at least see it from a boat, if not stepping on it, it’s like you haven’t seen it at all. The reason is that this bridge is enormous and you can’t be aware of its size until you come close. I would definitely choose to cross it on foot, but same can be done by a car or by a bike.
4. The Golden Gate Park
When you get tired of all the hustle of the big city, the right place to rest a bit, and enjoy some quiet is the Golden Gate Park. City’s largest outdoor spot, Golden Gate Park is even bigger than New York’s Central Park. It’s worth to see that, right?
Apart from a lot of places to play, or have a picnic at, The Golden Gate Park also offers you to see Dutch windmills, museums, gardens and even a buffalo herd. The most popular part of the park is Japanese Tea Garden, but it is certainly not the only one to pay attention to.
The Golden Gate Park is truly beautiful, but it has a downside. The park is far away from the main tourist attractions, and it’s best to go there by car. Public transportation can get you there, but it’s a long walk from the bus station to some of the attractions of the park.
If you’re into some science and visiting a museum, the Exploratorium is the right place for you. It was built in 1969 as one of the most modern science museum, and it is to this day. one of the best in the world.
Exploratorium is suitable for people of all ages. If you’re travelling with your kids, you can safely take them here, because they will certainly have a blast. If it’s raining outside, this indoor museum is the best option to spend your day doing something fun.
See more than 475 exhibits and find out why the Exploratorium received the National Science Board 2011 Public Service Science Award for its contributions to public understanding of science and engineering. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10a.m. to 5p.m. Admission fees are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and young people (ages 13-17), $10 for children (ages 4-12) and free for kids under the age of 3. For more information, visit the official website at www.exploratorium.edu
6. Fisherman’s Wharf
Once you get tired of all the sightseeing, it is time to have some relaxing time and have a bite to eat. The best place to do this is Fisherman’s Wharf.
The neighborhood owes its existence to Italian immigrants who settled here after the Gold Rush. It is packed with cute little shops where you can get your souvenirs, and fantastic restaurants to try local food. San Francisco is one of the cities with most Michelin stars in the world, so you simply must try the food. There are many events throughout the year and you can find all the information you need about them on this link.
7. Extra Tips
You can’t really say that you’ve been to San Francisco if you miss to ride in one of its many cable cars. This is a truly unique experience and one that should not be missed.
When visiting San Francisco, the best and the cheapest way, to see everything you would like to see, is to buy a City Pass. Each City Pass offers you free cable car, and Muni rides, and the rest can be combined according to the things you’d like to visit. Find out more about the City Pass on this link.
Have you already visited San Francisco? Tell me which one of these attractions you liked the best and why? If you have anything else to recommend, feel free to do so in the comments below.