To celebrate its enduring allure, we’ve rounded up some of our all-time favourite San Francisco attractions that have contributed to the city’s status as one of the most beloved travel destinations, not only in America, but the entire world.
1. Golden Gate Bridge
As one of the most photographed structures on the planet – and one of the most instantly recognisable too – this feat of engineering is quintessential San Fran. It is, therefore, an all but compulsory item for any San Francisco first-timer – and an all-time favourite for seasoned travellers too.
There are a number of excellent spots from which to photograph this man-made marvel. Our top picks would include Battery Spencer for the classic postcard perspective, and Marshall’s Beach, situated on the northernmost end of Baker Beach, for extremely impressive, close-up views of the famous bridge.
Another of the city’s super famous landmarks, this former prison-on-an-island has been etched onto our collective consciousness thanks to a number of popular culture references, movies and books.
Take a tour of the prison that famously held some of America’s most notorious criminals and gangsters, for a fascinating insight into the history of arguably the world’s most well-known penitentiary.
Tours to Alcatraz depart by ferry from Pier 33 and because it’s one of the city’s most popular attractions, it’s recommended that you reserve your spot in advance.
3. Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39
Due to its waterside location, it’s unsurprising that many of the city’s best spots can be found along the water’s edge. And at Fisherman’s Wharf you can really experience some of the best that the city has to offer.
Home to the famous Pier 39 where you can find some excellent dining options, shops and even a public aquarium, this is one part of town that you’ll want to set aside a fair amount of time to explore.
Fisherman’s Wharf also boasts some interesting museums, like the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, and even provides domicile for a colony of sea lions (by Pier 39) that’s always a crowd-pleaser, especially with kids. All of this makes the Fisherman’s Wharf area a real family-friendly destination.
Major American cities are known for their Chinatown neighbourhoods, each representing an eclectic mix of oriental cultures, traditions and their communities’ adaptations to their new Western Hemisphere homes. And when it comes to US Chinatowns, there is literally none quite like the famous San Franciscan district, situated around Grant Avenue and Stockton Street.
As the oldest Chinatown on the North American continent, it is home to the largest Chinese community outside of Asia. A walking tour through the bustling and vibrant streets of San Fran’s Chinatown would, therefore, be one of the true must-do activities for any visitor.
If you’re in town around Chinese New Year, make sure to head here to witness one of the city’s greatest annual events: the Chinese New Year Festival and Parade.
5. Cable Cars
Another of San Francisco’s iconic attractions, the city’s cable cars have been transporting passengers around the city since the 19th century. In fact the cable cars have reached a status so legendary and historically significant, they were named a US National Historic Landmark in 1964.
It’s not every day you get to ride a moving national landmark, so next time you’re visiting San Francisco, make sure to hop on one of these icons of transportation. It’s also an excellent way to enjoy some great views of the city.
For a more in-depth look into the cable cars and their history, take a tour of the Cable Car Museum on Mason Street.
6. Lombard Street
San Francisco is known for its steep hills and gravity-defying roadways. And while there are more than a handful of the city’s streets that provide the backdrop for some seriously cool holiday snapshots, the most famous and unique of these would probably be Lombard Street.
A sharply meandering road that boasts eight astonishing hairpin turns, Lombard Street is a great place to visit for some fun and truly epic San Francisco memories.
SEE ALSO: An insider’s guide to San Francisco, USA
7. Painted Ladies
Made famous by the wildly popular American sitcom Full House, the Painted Ladies are San Francisco’s most renowned homes and buildings. These Victorian and Edwardian houses and buildings that have been painted in charming colours are unmistakably San Fran.
Though the famous Postcard Row houses (the block that was featured in the Full House opening credits) are not the only Painted Ladies in San Francisco, they are unquestionably the most iconic. To get the best view of these famous landmarks, head over to Alamo Square.
– TEXT BY SAUL LIPCHIK
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.