San Francisco, California
San Francisco has much to see. For more detail see the district sections, often linked from this entry.
- Palace of Fine Arts. Located in the Marina District the Palace of Fine Arts is a Beautiful building. It was designed by Bernard Maybeck and was completed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. The architecture is that of Roman and Greek. Beautiful woman sculptured into the building dramatically holding up the pillars. Although the Palace of Fine Arts has fallen slightly ill to lack of repair it is still a major site to behold.
- Lombard Street. The (nearly) twistiest street in America, between Hyde & Leavenworth. The city has a twistier but less scenic hill-climb along Vermont Street, south of McKinley Square on Potrero Hill. You can get a view of Lombard from the Powell & Hyde cable car line.
- 22nd Street. Between Vicksburg and Church and Filbert Street. between Leavenworth and Hyde - At a 31.5% grade, these streets share the honor of steepest streets in San Francisco.
- Alcatraz Island. Decommissioned island prison in the bay. Take a tour and listen to an audio tape in English, Japanese, Chinese or other languages. The most interesting aspect of the tour is that you can go into the prison and see what it is like to be imprisoned. It might be more interesting if you've watched the movie "Escape from Alcatraz" and seen what happened in Alcatraz when it was operating as a prison. Tickets for the Ferry to Alcatraz are available at the Alcatraz Cruises website , but they sell out fast so buy in advance.
- Angel Island. Island in the bay that housed Asian immigration (exclusion) camp, becoming the "Ellis Island of the West". Ferry over and rent a bicycle or walk around this beautiful island that is now a large and wide open park.
- Coit Tower. Built in 1933 on top of Telegraph Hill, a former signaling point for sailing ships, It is dedicated to the San Francisco firefighters (who fought a massive blaze in 1906 after the earthquake that destroyed much of the city center), and it was designed to resemble the nozzle of a fire hose. At 250' high, it is a healthy hike from the Embarcadero (steps at Greenwich and Montgomery) or from . Muni bus #39 goes from Washington Square in North Beach up the hill to the base of the tower.
- Twin Peaks, accessible by car or on foot via Twin Peaks Boulevard . The small parking area at the northern tip of Twin Peaks Boulevard (875' above sea level) is near the physical center of the city, and one of its highest points, providing spectacular views in all directions. Tour buses can get backed up here during the day, but it's a great place to really appreciate the City from above, especially at and after sunset. Temperatures up there can be quite a bit lower than in the rest of the city, so bring a jacket. Muni bus #37, a scenic ride from the or and Market streets, gets you close, so you only have to climb the last 120' up.
- Treasure Island. An artificial island half-way between San Francisco and Oakland connected to Yerba Buena Island which the Bay Bridge passes through. The Island has excellent views of San Francisco & Oakland skylines and quirky structures from the international fairground-turned-navy base-turned neighborhood. Accessible by Muni bus line 108 from the Transbay Terminal downtown.
- Mission District. Containing one of the oldest structures in the City - the Mission Dolores Church - as well as superb City views from Dolores Park, the Mission is an offbeat tourist destination where Hispanic families mingle with Hipster night-owls, artists, lesbians, and just about every one else in this eclectic neighborhood. The walls of many buildings, especially on alleys between Market and Valencia are painted with a fantastic collection of murals of all sorts.
- Presidio of San Francisco. The Presidio was founded in 1776 and was the longest-running military post in the U.S. before closing as a base in 1994. It is now a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area . Within the Presidio of San Francisco is the Fort Point National Historic Site . From its vantage point overlooking the spectacular Golden Gate, Fort Point protected San Francisco harbor from Confederate & foreign attack during & after the U.S. Civil War. Its beautifully arched casemates display the art of the master brick mason from the Civil War period. At the end of 2005, about 2,500 people lived in the Presidio and it is home to the headquarters of Lucasfilm, a unique situation for a national park. Part of their drinking water comes from Lobos Creek (Rio de los Lobos), the last free-flowing creek in San Francisco. It is best approached from the Marina District along the water through the kites and bay-views of the connected Chrissy Fields Park.
- San Francisco Zoo. If you are traveling with children or have a fondness for penguins, primates, lions or llamas, the large and well maintained Zoo is located at the end of the L streetcar line near Ocean Beach.
Golden Gate Park
Once an area of sand dunes, Golden Gate Park is a roughly 1/2 mile-by-four mile urban oasis, with windmills, bison, museums, and a carousel hidden among its charms. At 1,017 Acres, it is 174 acres larger than New York's Central Park, so unless you rent a bike , you'll want to plan which area you want to visit, especially along the East (Stanyan street) to West (the Ocean) axis. During the summer to October a free shuttle bus circulates. On Sundays and holidays, JFK Drive between Transverse and Kezar is closed to vehicular traffic; this car-free zone is popular with walkers, cyclists, and runners. The number 5 trolleybus runs along its North boundary, and offers the most frequent service across the park and to downtown. The N streetcar two blocks south of its South boundary with similar service. The antique palatial greenhouse of the Conservatory of Flowers is near 2nd Avenue (4 small blocks West of Stanyan). To the South are tennis Courts, a classic Carousel, and playing fields for Frisbee. At 8th Avenue is the Shakespeare Garden with roses and other flowers mentioned in his plays. The modern and ethnic art focused de Young Museum has recently reopened (see "Hide in a Museum"), although its neighboring museums are still under construction. West of the de Young it is the large Japanese Tea Garden at 12th Avenue, and South of that is the Strybing Arboretum, a collection of plants from across the temperate world. Boating (several types for rent) on Stow Lake is available at 18th Avenue. The Marx and Speedway meadows for picnicking and music festivals are near 30th. Ave. Model boating is at 35th Ave., fly-casting at 36th Avenue, and a Petanque (lawn bowling) field is at 38th Ave, just north of the Bison Meadow, where buffaloes roam. Golf and Archery are available at at 47th Avenue. Finally, beyond 48th Avenue are the Dutch windmills that were used for Park irrigation in the past and the beautiful 1930’s Beach Chalet for lunch, drinks, or dinner overlooking Ocean Beach and its brave surfers.
Golden Gate Bridge
Highway 101 N , 921-5858 . Open 24 hours, occasionally closed Sunday morning for events. $5
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in the United States, and has been called one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. The bridge spans the Golden Gate, a strait between San Francisco and to the north, and is one of the major road routes into and out of the city.
Vehicular traffic in both directions share a single deck; yellow pylons are used to allot lanes to one direction or the other depending on traffic conditions. Observation areas and parking lots are provided on both the north and south sides of the bridge; the best way to enjoy the bridge is to park and walk across, not least because you don't have to pay a toll. Note that winds are high and it can be cold and foggy; dress appropriately. Bikes can also be difficult to navigate in the high winds and narrow pathway.
The masterwork of architect Joseph B. Strauss, whose statue graces the southern observation deck, the bridge took seven years to build, and was completed on May 27, 1937. Not actually golden in color -- a common misconception -- the bridge is painted a deep red-orange. Erroneous legend has it that the bridge is continuously painted, with crews starting at one end and, on getting to the other end, turning around and starting over again. In fact, the bridge is only painted once every few years, with some touchup done continuously.
The San Francisco end of the bridge is accessible by the Muni 28 bus line from Fort Mason in the Marina District near Fisherman’s wharf. The fastest way to reach it from downtown is to take the the 38 or 38L up Geary to “Park Presidio” (after 12th ave) and transfer to a Fort Mason bound 28. Golden Gate Transit busses serve the bridge on request, but busses are very infrequent and unpredictable except at afternoon commute times, when they are crowded.
Alamo Square Park
At Steiner Street and Hayes Street, it has the famous Painted Ladies row of Victorian houses on its east side along Steiner Street, but many other pretty Victorians encircle the lovely park. The Hayes street Muni bus #21 goes along its south side, for the postcard view. If you enjoy walking and don't mind modest grades you can get there by walking west from or north from .
is a great place to see amazing street entertainers, eat excellent seafood, watch sea lions, visit the Fisherman's Wharf Wax Museum and go to the Aquarium Marine Museums and exhibits. Working fishing boats still come into the small harbor at Jones and Jefferson, the endpoint of the Muni Historic F-streetcar. There are also small day and party boats available. The fresh breeze from the bay can provide a bracing setting.
Stand on the stern of Balclutha, face west to feel the fresh wind blowing in from the Pacific Ocean. Located in the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park offers the sights, sounds, smells and stories of the Pacific Coast maritime history.
The has impressive Beaux Arts buildings and the celebrated Asian Art Museum, but the main reason for going there are its music and theater venues, including large concert halls and a renowned Symphony and Opera. On an historic note, the Charter for the United Nations was signed in the War Memorial Veteran's Building at the corner of Van Ness Avenue and McAllister Street. Nearby along Hayes Street (West, past Van Ness Avenue) is a neighborhood known for its sophisticated yet funky shops, bars and restaurants. The large, modern public library bordering Market is great for browsing, free internet connections (card not required) and occasional events in its theater.
The Yerba Buena Gardens, above the Moscone Center, at Mission and Third streets provide a nice urban oasis. There is a carousel, a museum, and play places for kids, movie houses, various exhibit spaces, and the Museum of Modern Art across the street. A big garage at Mission between Fifth and Fourth streets makes it quite accessible for drivers. The Moscone Center itself houses major exhibits and conventions. Half of all Muni lines come within a few blocks of the area. The conference center itself is home to a number of major (especially IDG) expos that occur each year, including Apple Computer-related expos such as Macworld and Apple's WWDC, and LinuxWorld.
The original Chinatown, centered around Grant Street from Bush to Columbus is part tourist trap, part an exhibit of local life. Good eating places remain, and the side streets especially have stores one wouldn't find in a mall. Stockton Street, the street paralleling Grant to to west is the main street where most locals do their shopping for groceries. Be sure to sample some of the Dim Sum and other specialties offered in the many bustling shops. However, many local Chinese prefer to eat and shop in the located in other neighborhoods such as the Inner neighborhood or on Clement Street between 2nd and 12th Avenues. The Muni #1 (California) and #2 (Clement, does not run at night) buses get people from one Chinatown to the other.
Chinatown is easily accessible from the downtown area via the 30 Stockton or 45 Union-Stockton Muni bus routes. Expect frequent crowding during peak hours. The Cable Cars also run fairly close to Chinatown as well.
Lincoln Park defines the extreme Northwestern corner of San Francisco. It provides majestic views of the Marin Headlands, the Golden Gate Bridge from the Ocean side, and the Pacific Ocean itself. At the extreme western end the well known Cliff House provides both semi-casual and a more formal eating and drinking place. The #18 Muni bus goes from the center of the park via the Cliff House to Golden Gate Park, while the very frequent #38 Geary buses terminate in between. Drivers will want to take the El Camino del Mar Drive through the small Seacliff area on the northwest side to view some fancy mansions between Lincoln Park and the Presidio.
Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco, CA (2002)
tape in a drawer from a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California in 2002 while attending a conference. Great video shows how the fog