San Francisco: city of brotherly love with an action hero for a governor. Although you should no longer wear flowers in your hair in the city that was the rallying point for the flower power movement, San Francisco is still known as one of the most relaxed cities in the US and offers a plethora of things to do.
A visit to San Francisco is not complete without exploring Fisherman’s Wharf. Fisherman’s Wharf offers great wining and dining as well as wonderful views over San Francisco Bay and offers easy access to Alcatraz, the Maritime Museum, Coit Tower and the cable car lines.
The infamous Alcatraz is now a museum and open to visitors at varying times over the course of the year. This spooky site is a good place to visit not just for its history as one of America’s grimmest prisons (and former home to Al ‘Scarface’ Copone), but for the tremendous views over the bay and the nature reserve there. If you see Sean Connery, however, run. For more information, consult the US National Parks website.
San Francisco has one of the largest Chinatown areas in North America, which provides visitors with the opportunity to see something other than mainstream culture. The main street in Chinatown is Grant Avenue, which features Chinatown’s famous Dragon Gate and a war memorial to Chinese veterans, but intrepid travellers will want to look down Stockton Street, which is less touristy and offers authentic Chinese markets.
Coit Tower is the magnificent structure sitting between Fisherman’s Wharf and the financial district, looking like the love child of the leaning tower of Pisa and a lightouse. The art deco tower was built at the top of Telegraph Hill in 1933 and houses what is considered to be the best collection of depression era public art in its foyer. The tower looms over the surrounding park, providing tourists with an opportunity to access its splendid views.
‘Great views’ is a phrase that will occur frequently to any visitor to San Francisco, as the city is situated on a series of hills by the bay. The absolute kings of these hills are the Twin Peaks (no, not anything to do with David Lynch), just three miles inland from the bay. The Peaks are elevated at 1,000 feet and catch the cool breeze even in the height of summer, when the rest of the city is sweltering.
For tranquil walks and intriguing floral life, take a wander through Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden. This serene garden was created as part of the city’s Exposition in 1894 but holds fresh fascination for every visitor, its seemingly authentic Japanese design sitting smack bang in an iconic US city. The rest of Golden Gate Park is well worth exploring as well.
When you’re finished visiting the grown-up stuff, take a trip to the Exploratorium, a science museum with many worthy exhibits and – the important bit – a pitch-dark labyrinth called the Tactile Dome. When you’re finished there, head over to the Wax Works for more spooky fun.
San Francisco is a gorgeous city by the sea and visitors will find more to do there than any short trip can really handle. Whether your style inclines to galleries and museums, exploring the lifestyle of the city or crazy party fun, your visit is sure to be an excellent one.