San Francisco is one of those places you simply must visit. Known for so many iconic sights, landmarks and attractions – from the Golden Gate Bridge to the prison at Alcatraz and those world famous cable cars – there’s so much beyond those things to see and do.
The question is, what will you do first. That’s where we come in, with www.worldfirst.com guide to exploring San Francisco.
The usual suspects
Before you veer away from the beaten track, do take the time to visit the cities top attractions. As you’re there, you might as well see what all the fuss is about. The aforementioned Golden Gate Bridge is arguably the world’s most famous, and said to be among the most photographed things on the planet. If shopping’s your thing, Union Square will be your kind of place. Big department stores coexist with designer boutiques – every taste catered for. Chinatown is a city within a city – 24 blocks of food, shops, museums and the most incredible atmosphere. A trip to Alcatraz is a fascinating one, as some of America’s most infamous criminals ended up there – and no-one ever escaped. Finally, Fisherman’s Wharf is a tourist must – a colourful, lively market at the top of Market Street, and why not also treat yourself to a seafood lunch at PIER 39.
But when you’ve done all or some of these, you may want to try some of the things that don’t automatically come to mind.
Take it easy at Crissy Field
We’ve already mentioned the Golden Gate Bridge, but for great views of the bridge and the city in a more relaxed atmosphere, head for Crissy Field. If you’ve got kids in tow, they’ll love running up and down the hills and piling up rocks, while mom and dad can get a coffee and a sandwich at the Warming Hut.
Something for everyone at the Maritime National Historical Park
Here, you can explore the old ships of the Hyde Street Pier and gaze in wonder at the swimmers in Aquatic Park who brave the Bay's chilly waters. Plus the scenery is absolutely beautiful and is guaranteed to captivate. With food stores and local music too, this trip will fill plenty of hours – not that they’ll need filling.
Elegance and views at Golden Gate Park
This place is just so relaxing. From the elegance of The Japanese Tea Garden to the beauty of the dahlia garden outside the Conservatory of Flowers and the carnivorous plants housed inside. The Three Gems structure in the sculpture garden will give you another opportunity to take five. And look out for the skate dancers near 6th Avenue and Fulton Street who come out to play on Sundays, when the park is closed to traffic.
Get out of the big city
Why not take the ferry to Marin? Catch a Blue and Gold Ferry from Pier 41 to Sausalito or Tiburon –both are small and delightful little villages. On the way, breathe in the wind and refreshing spray, and take in the views, which are amazing and all around you. Both places are rather touristy, but worth a couple of hours of your time, and having broken free of the big city you’ll feel refreshed.
The Wave Organ
This complicated acoustic sculpture is so off the beaten track that you’re likely to have the place to yourself. Again, the views are immense - the city skyline, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Plus, go at high tide, and you’ll be rewarded with your own personal soundtrack as the waves hit the sculpture and make all sorts of weird and wonderful noises.
Get on your bike
I know you’re there on vacation, but there’s nothing to stop you doing a bit of work while you’re there. With that in mind, get involved with Critical Mass, a big bike ride that takes place on the last Friday of each month. It all starts at 6pm - don’t be late - and join hundreds of other San Franciscans on this event that started in SF, but is now ridden in more than 300 cities.
The Big Chill
After all that hard work, you deserve a break, so our final suggestion is a visit to the Kabuki Springs, a Japanese style bath house with will enable your mind and body take a rest. Afterwards, eat well with a trip to nearby Japantown.
That’s our World First guide to San Francisco – hope it’s given you inspiration for your upcoming trip. Oh, and you absolutely must take a ride on one of those cable cars!