Enjoying this beautiful city of San Francisco in Northern California

I have been visiting America since 2004 and like many other visitors, visiting San Francisco was a dream of mine. San Francisco city, best known for the Golden Gate and cable cars is beautiful, spectacular and fun city. Located in northern California is set on the tip of a peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area and is about 700 kilometres from Los Angeles. It is a bursting city with a youthful energy that will guaranteed you with an amazing and unforgettable experience and adventure. This lively city offers tourists with an abundance of exciting things to see and do.

Getting around

After a day of refuelling from traveling, it was time to explore this fun city that I heard so much on television, magazines and movies, especially the Great Prison Escape from infamous Alcatraz prison, a tiny island off the shores of San Francisco city. Like many other modern western cities, many forms of transportations are readily available from push bikes to rental cars and makes it so accessible to move around in every destination. Getting around in San Francisco is easy and readily available. Here, I used local bus services as my main form of transportation to move around the city. Sometimes, it can be a little surprising because some places, the bus drivers do not carry cash on hand at all. You have to purchase the tickets in advance to board local buses. Most bus ticket vendors are located along the streets near bus stops but for a first time visitor to the area, you are more likely to mistaken them for car parking meter machines.   

Attractions and Activities

After visiting many attraction sites along with never ending activities, I was so amazed to see and learn so much about this city so rich in history and culture. Known for its lovely Victorian homes and ethnic neighbourhoods, Chinatown, especially most famous for displays its colourful arrays of shops, markets, architecture, traditions and food. Apart from this, I have found that this city is packed with many world-class art galleries, museums, theatres, operas and ballets which present a variety of live performances. If you want to take a break from history, museums and shopping, visitors can indulge themselves at the San Francisco Zoo, Steinart Aquarium and the Morrison Planetarium which are best great family attractions. Right outside the city are beaches and recreational areas which San Francisco visitors can relax, swim, sail, surf, camp and see local marine and land species. There is no end of things to see in San Francisco.

Like many countries I have visited, taking time to see some of the cities best iconic places or landmarks are first priority to me before leaving to my next destination. Taking a visit to the Golden Gate was something that I had to do in San Francisco city before driving up to Portland, Oregon and Washington State.

Union Square

Staying right in the heart of San Francisco downtown, meant that I was able to explore this city on foot, especially the downtown area before visiting other places of interest. Taking a stroll down to Union Square, I must admit, it is the best people watching in San Francisco. Made up of just one square bordered by four roads – Geary, Powell, Post and Stockton streets in downtown San Francisco, it is actually a lot packed into this dense area that serves as the city’s main commercial heart. To make it so surreal, many major hotels are jammed into Union Square itself where I was staying in one of the hotels. This is the central commercial, shopping and theatre district where everything happens here. It is certainly the place that I didn’t want to miss out on. However, there are many major tourist attraction at the intersection of Powell and Market street and also the place where the manual cable car turnaround.

Downtown Union Square
Waiting to take a cable-car downtown

 Fisherman’s Wharf

One of the most popular tourist attractions in San Francisco is the Fisherman’s Wharf area. A popular waterfront district lined with souvenir shops and seafood restaurants. Like any other first time visitor to San Francisco, my first visit to this area of Fisherman’s Wharf was just amazing. Without a doubt, this is a great place to be to see the best sights and attractions that this city has to offer and must-visit place for any visitor. Being a very popular place in a touristed area, there are endless lines of chain stores and tourist traps all around and all these can be spotted from a mile away. This historic waterfront was the hub of San Francisco’s fishing fleet and is still famous for having some of the best seafood restaurants in the city. Also, here at the wharf is where tourists are able to catch a ferry across to Alcatraz Island to take a tour of this famous notorious prison in American history.

Apart from the endless line of chain stores, there are so many impressive things to do and it is a perfect place to enjoy outdoors. There are other endless tourist attractions at the wharf include museums, souvenir stores, historical buildings, scenic vistas over the Bay and the famous sea lions at Pier 39. Whilst I was there, I took a short ride on the Sausalito Ferry about 30 minutes ride to Sausalito for a day visit. One of the interesting part of taking this journey itself is – it is one of the best ways to experience San Francisco Bay first-hand. It is unbelievably a perfect way to see this place from a different angle. In fact, this was voted by the Society of American Travel Writers as the second best ferry crossing in the world. With various piers and vibrant and buzzing seaside atmosphere of the place makes, Fisherman’s Wharf a great place to stay if you like your city holiday destinations to be busy and by the sea. 

Attractions at Fisherman's Wharf
Pier 39 - Sea Lions

Golden Gate Bridge 

San Francisco’s most iconic man-made structure and undoubtedly the city’s number one attraction is the Golden Gate Bridge. This amazing bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the strait between San Francisco and Marin County to the north. 

This bridge was completed in 1937 after taking four years to build and it the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed. Today, this bridge has become an internationally recognised symbol of San Francisco and California. With its famous red-orange colour of the bridge was specifically chosen to make the bridge more easily visible through the thick fog that frequently shrouds the bridge.

Many tourists today, coming from all over the world, including locals take a drive, bike ride or walk across this famous suspension bridge, just to admire and photograph stunning views. To me, this was one of the highlight on my bucket-list that I had to tick off. Apart from this incredible bridge and stunning views, one of the other city’s most prominent landmarks are its historical cable cars which are memorable way to experience the steep inclines and main sights that can’t be missed out. 

The city of San Francisco today is definitely an exciting destination to visit, home to endless streets of cuisine and independent chain of stores, art galleries, museum historical buildings and cocktail of culture and ethnicity makes it an internationally recognised tourist destination. Here you find locals ranging from the bohemian to the hipster, from the homeless to multi-millionaires, diverse of population and vibrant and yet laid-back city makes it a very rewarding and friendly destination – a must-visit city for San Francisco visitors.

From personal perspective: Having enjoyed this city from historical perspective to outdoor attractions, it certainly gave me great knowledge about how history transits – changes over time, like any history of any country around the world. Having read or heard so much about a particular place, area or destination and to be physically visiting the place, gives me a different perspective. To be able to understand and absorb the history and knowledge that we gained through our travels is something that we walk away either accepting it or not depending on each individual. 

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