San Francisco Attractions
The toughest thing about visiting San Francisco is trying to figure out where you should go first and what attractions you'll want to visit while you're there. There is so much packed into this 47-square-mile city that you'll be hard-pressed to fit a visit into just a day or two but will instead need several. Of course, not fitting everything in the first time will give you a great reason to return.
A number of the most visited attractions and sights in San Francisco are located in the vibrant waterfront area of Fisherman's Wharf. The Wharf itself is home to a plethora of shops and stalls that are quite popular with visitors. While many stores peddle kitschy souvenirs, you'll also find everything here from art galleries to boutiques featuring locally-designed apparel. But the piece-de-resistance of Fisherman's Wharf is undoubtedly the food stands offering such delights as steaming helpings of chowder served inside a bowl of San Francisco's famous sourdough bread. In the same vicinity, you'll find other popular shopping areas, such as Pier 39, The Cannery, and Ghirardelli Square, where visitors can taste famous Ghirardelli chocolate, a sweet treat that's been delighting locals and visitors for more than 150 years. Each area includes numerous shops and restaurants. These shopping centers also boast sidewalk entertainers and are often home to some of the city's many street festivals.
Fisherman's Wharf is also the gateway to Alcatraz Island, part of Alcatraz National Park. The island, of course, was once the site of one of the nation's most famous penitentiaries. A trip to Alcatraz via ferry is one of the most popular tourist offerings in the city and anyone hoping to visit the island should purchase tickets well in advance of their visit, especially during peak tourist season.
Hop aboard one of San Francisco's famous cable cars and head to another must-see... Chinatown. This 24-block area is the largest Chinese neighborhood in the United States, and even if you're not a fan of Chinese food, you'll want to take some time to explore it. Guests can visit the Chinese Cultural Center and the local historical society to learn more about the Chinese immigrants who came to San Francisco and how they've made their mark on the city. You'll want to explore the stores that offer handmade Chinese goods including baskets, artwork and martial arts supplies, and you might even consider venturing into a Chinese herb shop, where you can buy natural remedies for any number of ailments. Of course, the Chinese food here is second-to-none and you'll have your choice of a few hundred establishments, ranging from fast food stalls to fancy sit-down establishments.
Golden Gate Bridge
Another San Francisco must is a trip across the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge. This amazing structure, the second longest suspension bridge in the world, stretches 4,200 feet and sits nearly 750 feet above the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay. Its golden-orange color is its claim to fame and a ride across the bridge from the city provides incredible views and deposits you in lovely neighboring Marin County, where can enjoy some excellent shopping opportunities.