Fisherman’s Wharf/ Pier 39
This is the place where you’ll spend the most time sightseeing and eating. It’s one of the most densely populated tourist areas in San Francisco and my personal favorite spot in the Bay Area.
The reason this area is so popular with tourists is not only the stunning views of the Bay but all the activities one can find here, it’s filled with over 100 shops and runs for eight to nine blocks filled with novelty museums, souvenir shops, seafood restaurants and free street entertainment from the Aquatic Park to Pier 39.
This area tends to be a bit pricey, so if your looking for cheap souvenirs I would look elsewhere, also eating here will impact the budget.
When it comes to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 I would say do it for the views and for the atmosphere. One of my favorite and not so expensive attractions was the 30-minute boat ride on a super tiny boat that only cost $10/person; this was the cheapest in comparison to the other boating options. And if you’re traveling with kids, they will love this place and love the boat ride.
The Embarcadero was another of my personal favorite locations, and chances are if you enjoyed Fisherman’s Wharf, you will also enjoy the Embarcadero region. This is the perfect place to dine, and the area I considered most romantic in all of San Francisco.
If you continue walking past Pier 39, the Embarcadero region begins and continues all the way to the historic AT&T Ballpark. It’s lined with piers and is good place to bike, walk and take panoramic photos.
While exploring through this area you will find that it’s one of the loveliest views of the bay, and especially marvelous at night. At night, head over to Pier 7; a wooden-plank pier decked with vintage lamp posts and overlooking a stunning view of the Bay Bridge. This is an ultra romantic spot for late night picnics or late night talks with your loved one.
Golden Gate Bridge
Not only is the Golden Gate Bridge the biggest landmark in California, it’s the number one must-see structure when visiting San Francisco. The bridge runs 1.7 miles, reaches 750 feet into the air and stands 220 feet above the water. You can experience the bridge in many ways; you can drive through it, walk or bike it.
Unless you’re a biker , I would say the best two ways to take the bridge in are either by driving through it and parking on the other side of the bridge- once you past the bridge there is a parking spot to the right where can get an exquisite view of the bridge and also make your way underneath it. Another way to enjoy the bridge is by walking it from either end point, you don’t have to walk the whole thing-unless you want to, but simply walking on it will give you a better idea of life on the bridge.
The winds will be strong, so no matter what- take a sweater. If you’re traveling with kids, hold their hands and avoid having them running around on their own, since there will be vehicles and parts of the bridge that are not safe for children. Other than that, kids and adults will enjoy the Golden Gate Bridge and is bound to be one of the highlights of your trip.
I like to consider Union Square, little tiny New York or tiny Downtown LA. It’s the urban area of the city where you can dine and shop retail. Union Square is also one of the main tourists spots to get the infamous San Francisco trolley. Yes, riding the the trolley is practically on the list of every tourist but keep in mind it has one of the longest lines. I got my fix riding the bus.
Tip: If you love burgers, I suggest visiting the Burger Bar. It serves a variety of burger types and lends a nice view overlooking the center of Union Square.
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park is the perfect place to spend a weekend afternoon, the park runs 3-miles long and is filled with all sorts of activities for families like bike-riding, rollerblading, row boats, and a lot more.
For nature lovers, you can find many lakes, gardens and meadows in this area. Even though there can be a lot of people at such attractions, the park is still grand enough for moments of peace and solitude.
Some of the attractions located here are the California Academy of Sciences, Japanese Tea Garden, De Young Museum, Stow Lake, Polo Field, windmills and more. Please note that some of these come with an admission price while others are free. I suggest checking their websites for prices.
Tip: Bring your camera for an impromptu photo shoot.
Alamo Square is located by Fulton and Hayes Street, it’s a random park hill located in the middle of a bunch of houses with some of the most famous homes in all of Northern California- the Painted Ladies. You may know these homes from Full House or any TV show or film ever taken in San Francisco.
Alcatraz Island is another one of those “must-do” when visiting San Francisco lists, and is a great place for history buffs to visit. The tour usually lasts 2-3 hours and helps you paint a picture of what life as a prisoner was like back when it was still running. Get a glimpse at the prison cells and showers that once housed some of the world’s worst criminals; Al Capone, Robert Stroud and Machine Gun Kelly. From Alcatraz Island you can also get a panoramic view of San Francisco.
At&t Park is located pass the Bay Bridge by 4th Street. It’s unique layout makes it one of the most beautiful baseball parks in the world. If you’re a sports fan there is no missing this. You can book a tour to view the park, catch a game or stand outside and watch balls fly into the water while fisherman and fans try to catch em’.
The reason I have added Chinatown to the list is because being in the midst of Chinatown makes you feel like you left San Francisco and went to China for the day. Here you can find live animals like sharks, birds and frogs being sold; the oldest Buddhist Temple- The Tien Hou Temple and so much more. It’s colorful sights, distinct smells and crowded streets will bring you to a new world.
Lastly on our list is Lombard Street, “the Crookedest Street in the World,” a curvy road traveling down Russian Hill lined with flowers and tourists. You can either drive through it or just get a glimpse of the phenomenon from across the street. Either way you can’t skip this iconic street.