San Francisco is most certainly a feast for the eyes; with so many sights just waiting to be taken in, we can't guarantee you'll have an easy time packing everything into your itinerary.
Nonetheless, we've assembled a tiny sampling of some of our favorite San Francisco area attractions.
Golden Gate Bridge
This iconic bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of the United States. Constructed in 1937, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world at 4,200 feet, until 1964. The American Society of Civil Engineers has declared it one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
Formally known as Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, this was a notorious maximum security federal prison located on Alcatraz Island, just off the city's coast. Considered 'escape-proof', it housed some of the most violent criminals in the country; including the likes of Al Capone, James "Whitey Bulger", and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. Today, the complex is open to the public for tours and is a museum overseen by the National Park Service.
One of the city's most popular neighborhoods is also a must-see on our list. Besides the souvenir shops and yummy eats, the area is home to Ghirardelli Square, a landmark square with many shops and amenities listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The ferries to Alcatraz also depart from here and are very popular. But most popular of all are the hundreds of sea lions that hang out on the pier, basking in the sun.
Cable Cars (and the Cable Car Museum)
First introduced in 1873 to assist folks in navigating the numerous steep hills in the city, the cable cars truly are a national treasure. Today, although just a few remain, they have the unique distinction of being the only mode of public transport to be declared a Historic Monument and are the only manually operated cable car system in the world.
Golden Gate Park
Located in the heart of the city, this public park graces the landscape with over 1,000 acres of gardens and attractions. While either walking or cycling, visitors enjoy thousands of different plants, many species of trees, a Japanese tea garden (the oldest of its kind in the U.S.), a music concourse, bison paddock, windmills, lakes, a stadium, and much more.
While at Golden Gate Park, make sure to visit the De Young Museum; the oldest museum in San Francisco. Many works of fine art from several countries can be admired here.
You'll also want to check out the California Academy of Sciences, a state of the art eco-friendly building with over two acres of living greenery on the rooftops. Inside is a planetarium, museum of natural history, aquarium, and rainforest, all housing more than 38,000 live specimens.
The Spanish were the first to name these two unique hills "Los Pechos de la Chola", or "The Breasts of the Indian Maiden", as the area was known to have provided many useful berries and plants for medicinal purposes for the native peoples of the area. Today, these uninhabited hills provide what many consider some of the most stunning views of the city and the bay.
Palace of Fine Arts
This wondrous structure is the last remaining building from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Today, it plays host to art exhibitions, weddings, and conventions and is simply breathtaking.
Located south of Chinatown and north of SoMa, Union Square is a public plaza and shopaholic's Achilles heel; one of the largest groupings of boutiques, department stores, art galleries, and beauty salons in the U.S. are located here. There are also several art installations, theaters, and other funky and fun locales for both locals and tourists alike. It is also registered as a California Historical Landmark, as it was once host to rallies in support of the Union Army during the Civil War.
Muir Woods National Monument
Just a half-hour jaunt from the city, you'll find this old-growth coastal redwoods forest. And while the majestic trees may be some of the tallest on Earth, they share the Muir Woods with an amazing array of plants, mammals, fish, and insects. Hikers love the park for the well-marked hiking trails, and bicycles and horses are also welcome on certain specially marked routes.
Ferry Building Marketplace
Located at the foot of Market Street, Ferry Building Marketplace will be the delight of your taste buds. The shops, cafes, and restaurants embrace many culinary delights; from artisan cheeses, fresh local seafood, select coffees, artisan chocolates, fine wines, delicate pastries, and more. Have a bite and enjoy gorgeous views of the bay, too.
The most populous and oldest Chinatown in North America is loved not only by the locals; tourists flock to the area for its herbal shops, live market, delicious food, pagoda roofs, marvelous Chinatown Gate, and more. In fact, the area receives more tourists annually than the Golden Gate Bridge.
Well, there you have it...we hope to have piqued your interest in the amazing Bay Area with this brief introduction to attractions in the region. So regardless of which neighborhoods you roam or landmarks you visit, be sure to revel in the joie de vivre that the area exudes.
Pulitzer prize-winning author and playwright William Saroyan once said, "San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. That is the whole truth."
Here at Guide of US, we can't help but agree with his summation whole-heartedly.