Coit Tower picture
Taisia Postolati /Getty Images

Key Info

1 Telegraph Hill Blvd

Details

Monuments and Memorials Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
3.6scorecard
  • 3.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Rising from its position on the peak of Telegraph Hill in Pioneer Park, Coit Tower serves as a vantage point to take in the northwest corner of San Francisco. Visitors might think the 210-foot-tall tower was designed to resemble a firehose nozzle. While Lillie Hitchcock Coit commissioned the tower as a monument to volunteer firefighters, the concrete pillar's nozzle-like appearance is coincidental. The tower was completed in 1933, while artists painted the murals around its base (and repainted them due to some illustrations containing communist imagery) in 1934. The Coit Tower currently resides on the list of San Francisco Designated Landmarks and the National Register of Historic Places.

Recent travelers suggest you visit the tower early in the day to avoid the inevitable crowds. Once there, they suggest taking your time to enjoy the tower's murals before heading to the top to take in the 360-degree view of San Francisco.

The easiest way to access the Coit Tower is via the N line of the MUNI. The attraction is open April to October from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and November to March from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets sales end 30 minutes before the tower closes. The elevator entrance fee is $9 for adults, $6 for youths ages 12 to 17 and seniors 62 and older, $2 for children 5 to 11 and free for children 4 and younger. San Francisco residents receive a slight discount. There are docent-led tours that highlight the murals and the tower's history for $8, while visitors can alternatively opt for a shorter tour on the tower's second floor for $5. Check the San Francisco Recreation and Parks website to learn more and purchase tickets in advance.

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#1 Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge's vaulting, orange arches amidst the rocky seascape of the San Francisco Bay have made it one of the West Coast's most enduring symbols and the city's most popular tourist attraction. The bridge's name, "Golden Gate," actually refers to the body of water it spans (the Golden Gate Strait that connects the Pacific Ocean with the San Francisco Bay), and was built to make travel between San Francisco and Marin County an easier feat. 

There are plenty of great spots to capture a snap of the majestic bridge. But if you want a truly postcard-worthy shot, head to the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point, situated high on a hill overlooking San Francisco. If you have extra time, make sure to explore the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The actual span of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area encompasses multiple places in San Mateo (south of San Francisco), San Francisco and Marin Counties (Alcatraz and Muir Woods included), but notable parts of this recreation area can be found just a stroll away from the Golden Gate. From the bridge, travelers will find some scenic, bayside trails, some of which lead to secluded beaches, including Kirby Cove and Black Sands Beach. If you really want a trek, journey to the Point Bonita Lighthouse for sweeping views of the bay, found at the very tip of the Golden Gate Strait.

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