Tips on What To Do in San Francisco
San Francisco's most popular places for exploring include the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, Nob Hill and North Beach. San Francisco's diverse neighborhoods are attractions themselves and definitely worth exploring. Castro is a hotspot for the city's gay residents, Chinatown hosts a vibrant immigrant and Chinese-American locale, and Union Square houses many of the city's best arts and theater performances. Cultural travelers might want to visit the diverse de Young Musuem, while adventure and outdoors travelers should check out the nearby Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Couples will enjoy the scenic views from the Golden Gate Bridge. Luxury travelers should be sure to check out the excellent shopping in nearby Union Square.
- San Francisco makes it wonderfully easy to tap into the Good Life. Between the hot arts scene, the tempting boutiques, the awesome bay views, and all those stellar, locally focused restaurants and wine bars, it's the perfect place to indulge yourself." -- Fodor's
- Skip the less-scenic California line and take the Powell-Hyde cable car down to Fisherman's Wharf -- the ride is worth the wait. When you reach the top of Nob Hill, grab the rail with one hand and hold your camera with the other, because you're about to see a view of the bay that'll make you all weepy." -- Frommer's
- Prosperity hasn't sapped the Mission District of its eclecticism. With a population that is about half Latino, a third white and an estimated 11 percent Asian, it's still a wonderful mishmash." -- New York Times
A scenic, windy walk over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge is listed as a must for any traveler. The nearby Golden Gate park also provides some beautiful sights. Nearby, Fisherman's Wharf draws crowds with its lively atmosphere, souvenir shops and eateries. From here, you can hop a ferry to Alcatraz Island: The infamous former federal penitentiary is now open to visitors.
However, San Francisco is better known for its neighborhoods. Take some time to get the know some of the city's vibrant districts, such as the Mission District and the Castro. You can also see the city from the San Francisco hills on board a class San Francisco Cable Car.
- With its gracefully suspended single span, spidery bracing cables, and zooming twin towers, the bridge looks more like a work of abstract art than one of the 20th century's greatest practical engineering feats." -- Frommer's
- From Pier 33, ride an Alcatraz Cruise ferry ... to the infamous US fort turned federal penitentiary. Tours explain the island’s colorful (and scary!) history. Book ahead as ferry tickets can sell out up to a week in advance during peak season." -- Sherman's Travel
Sports & Leisure
If you're looking for a typical beach vacation, you're better off heading to Los Angeles or San Diego. Swimming isn't the most popular San Francisco attraction, but residents and tourists alike enjoy heading to the shore for the views. Try Ocean Beach off of Golden Gate Park for a glimpse of San Francisco's shorebirds and sea lions. When the weather is slightly too chilly for a dip, stretch your legs along one of San Francisco's hiking areas. Recent travelers strongly recommend a stroll around Muir Woods National Monument.
- "Most days it's too chilly to hang out at the beach, but when the fog evaporates and the wind dies down, one of the best ways to spend the day is oceanside in the city." -- Frommer's
- "Stretching 3 mi along the western side of the city from the Richmond to the Sunset, this sandy swath of the Pacific coast is good for jogging or walking the dog—but not for swimming. The water is so cold that surfers wear wet suits year-round, and riptides are strong. As for sunbathing, it's rarely warm enough here; think meditative walking instead of sun worshipping." -- Fodor's
When the fog becomes too much to bear, spend some time in one of the city's numerous museums. In San Francisco, several excellent art museums are within a few minutes of each other. Favorite art galleries among travelers and writers include the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in Union Square (which contains famous works from Henri Matisse and Georgia O'Keeffe) and the Palace of Fine Arts on the edge of the Presidio. Nearby, the Asian Art Museum provides tourists with thousands of years of art and artifacts.
- With its brick facade and a striped central tower lopped at a lipstick-like angle, architect Mario Botta's SFMOMA building fairly screams "modern-art museum." Indeed it is. The stripes continue inside, from the black marble and gray granite of the floors right up the imposing staircase to the wooden slats on the ceiling." -- Fodor's
- Until some mad San Francisco inventor finally succeeds in inventing the combo time-machine-teleporter, the Asian remains the best way to cover 6000 years and thousands of miles of astounding terrain in a single afternoon." -- Lonely Planet
San Francisco has unique and stylish boutiques and clothing stores, especially in the area around Union Square. The city should please those with deep pockets as well as those on a budget.
- San Francisco is simply one of the best shopping destinations in the United States. Deep-pocketed consumers as well as window shoppers visit the dozens of pricey international shops packed into a few blocks around Union Square, and bargain hunters who would never dream of paying full price frequent used-record and thrift shops in the Mission District and the Haight." -- Fodor's
- For a more intimate shopping experience, complete with one-off boutiques, head further out of the center of town to the quieter, sophisticated rows of the Marina neighborhood. Hunting for cheaper, more Bohemian digs? Chances are Haight-Ashbury will have what you seek." -- Sherman's Travel
San Francisco has a rich an unpretentious nightlife, ranging from an assortment of casual bars and nightclubs to some excellent piano halls, jazz clubs and concert halls. The atmosphere is relaxed, the people are friendly and the music is excellent. Excellent San Francisco nightlife neighborhoods include Nob Hill, the Castro and Chinatown.
- Dozens of piano bars and top-notch lounges augment a lively dance-club culture, and skyscraper lounges offer dazzling city views. The city's arts scene is also extraordinary: The opera is justifiably world renowned, the ballet is on its toes, and theaters are high in both quantity and quality." -- Frommer's
- Nob Hill is noted for its plush hotel bars and panoramic skyline lounges. North Beach -- though it still has a short stretch of strip clubs along Broadway -- is mostly known for historic bars that invoke the city's beatnik past and sleek lounges full of locals and visitors alike who stop in before or after dinner at one of the area's many mom-and-pop Italian restaurants." -- Fodor's