San Francisco is a spectacular, fun city on the central coast of California, about 350 miles from L.A. It’s bursting with a youthful energy that will guarantee you have an amazing and unforgettable adventure. On the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula, the city invites you to explore hip neighborhoods, elegant buildings, beautiful parks and gardens, and enjoy a liberal, relaxed atmosphere.
And there’s no end of things to see. Union Square, in the heart of downtown, is San Francisco’s finest shopping region. The neighborhood is famous for wide streets, clanging cable cars and some amazing shopping. And don’t forget about the Square itself, which is a great place to sit back, relax and do some serious people-watching. Just a few minutes north, San Francisco’s Chinatown is 8 blocks of bustling activity with storefronts and alleyways selling all manner of strange and exotic goods.
One of the largest Chinese communities in the US, San Francisco’s Chinatown is filled with exotic sights and sounds and a little bit of eastern mystique. Less than a mile to the east, the Embarcadero is a busy waterfront roadway that runs right around the port area, with some of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks, including Market Street, the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco Ferry Building.
Fisherman’s Wharf is at the northern end of the Embarcadero and has a great assortment of shops, bars and restaurants, and is right on the bay. Here you can grab a relaxed meal and a cool drink and be entertained by colorful street performers, or just enjoy the views along the waterfront.
A short stroll away is Pier 39 which has some of the best views of San Francisco Bay, and a resident sea lion community that has been basking in the sun at the Pier for more than 20 years. The island fortress of Alcatraz sits ominously in the bay and is now a popular attraction, with tours departing from Fisherman’s Wharf several times a day. Up until 1963, The Rock was home to America’s hardest prisoners but where there was once only concrete, steel and barbed wire, there are now gardens and wildflowers. If you listen carefully, the eerie passages and cramped cells still echo with footsteps from the past.
Not far from downtown is the Haight-Ashbury district where Victorian-styled buildings echo with memories of the hippy days of the 60s. There are still many pockets of counterculture where the Summer of Love lives on, and cafés, smoke shops and music stores still sell peace and love. Halfway between Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge is the Palace of Fine Arts.
A survivor from the 1915 Panama-Pacific Expo, and built in the Beaux-Arts style, it’s covered in greenery and surrounded by a peaceful lagoon. It’s a perfect place for a quiet afternoon stroll. At more than a thousand acres, Golden Gate Park stretches almost halfway across the peninsula and contains the Conservatory of Flowers and the tranquil Japanese Tea Garden. The park is the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors, or just relax and recharge in some peaceful surroundings.
The Golden Gate Bridge sits majestically over the mouth of the bay, and invites millions of visitors to the city each year. Almost 2 miles long and 750 feet high, the Golden Gate Bridge connects San Francisco to the nearby Marin Headlands. The pedestrian walkway spanning the length of the bridge is a superb way to see sweeping views across the bay and out over the Pacific Ocean. Golden Gate Bridge is also among the best things to do in California and making the San Francisco one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Baker Beach is located just to the west of the Golden Gate Bridge and has spectacular views across the mouth of the bay to the distant Marin Headlands. It enjoys a reputation as San Francisco’s best sandy beach, but the views alone are worth the trip. Just north of San Francisco in Marin County, the ancient redwoods of Muir Woods National Monument tower up to 260 feet high with some dating back almost 800 years. Local rangers can provide guided tours along pathways that loop through the forest, or visitors can enjoy the hush sounds of nature and explore one of America’s natural treasures at their own pace.
On the eastern side of Marin County is the charming bayside hamlet of Sausalito. In its early days it was a small artist colony, but now it’s a relaxed bayside community filled with cafés and art galleries. A short stroll down any street will bring you to some of the most beautiful views across the bay. And over there, in the distance, beckoning like a siren’s song is dazzling San Francisco — tempting you back for another taste. A temptation you’ll find hard to resist.