Best Places to Visit in SAN FRANCISCO (USA)
Are you planning to visit San Francisco, and want to know what are the best places to visit in San Francisco?
San Francisco is the fourth most populous city in California. It is the cultural, commercial, and financial centre of Northern California. With an abundance of fascinating places to see, San Francisco is one of the best places to visit on the West Coast of the USA.
With its hilly landscape and steep streets, San Francisco is a fun and picturesque city to visit.
Here is a list of some of the best things to do in San Francisco.
Check it out for some travel inspiration!
7 Best Places to Visit in San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge that connects San Francisco to Marin County.
It is one of the most famous bridges in the United States, and one of the most photographed bridges in the world. The Golden Gate Bridge is the most recognised symbol of San Francisco.
There are a number of places where you can view the Golden Gate Bridge:
- Golden Gate Observation Deck (Conzelman Road);
- Golden Gate View Point (Old Conzelman Road);
- Hawk Hill (Marin Headlands, Golden Gate National Recreation Area);
- Battery Spencer;
- Fort Baker;
- Baker Beach;
- Marshall’s Beach;
- Golden Gate Beach;
… and more.
Alcatraz Island is a former maximum-security federal prison.
Now it’s a museum and one of San Francisco’s major tourist attractions.
Located 1.25 miles (2 km) offshore from San Francisco, Alcatraz Island has a military fortification, prison and lighthouse. The island was developed in the mid-19th century, but it was converted into a federal prison in 1934. The prison ceased operation in the 1960s because it was too expensive to continue operating, compared to other prisons.
Alcatraz was known as one of the most secure prisons in the United States. It was used to house some of the most famous and dangerous prisoners in the country.
Alcatraz Island is one of the best places to visit in San Francisco.
Fisherman’s Wharf & Pier 39
Fisherman’s Wharf is a waterfront neighbourhood and one of the busiest tourist spots in San Francisco. Restaurants and tourist attractions are plentiful there.
Some of the best San Francisco attractions are located in Fisherman’s Wharf, such as Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Musée Mécanique, Ghirardelli Square, Pier 39 and the historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier.
Perhaps the best place to visit in Fisherman’s Wharf is Pier 39. It is an outdoor shopping centre best known for its sea lions. Head there to see the large mammals chilling on the docks. Pier 39 also boasts good views of Alcatraz Island, Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Golden Gate Park & San Francisco Botanical Garden
Golden Gate Park is a large urban park with an area of 412 ha.
It is one of the most visited urban parks in the United States. The park contains a number of gardens, lakes, monuments and playgrounds. It is also home to San Francisco Botanical Garden.
The park has a number of walking trails, with Golden Gate Park Loop and Stow Lake and Strawberry hill walk being the most popular ones.
Golden Gate Park is one of the best places to visit in San Francisco.
Union Square is a public plaza located in the heart of the city.
It is a bustling gathering place circled by palm trees and surrounded by elegant buildings. It is one of the liveliest areas in San Francisco. The area around the plaza is also called “Union Square”. It is the most visited neighbourhood in San Francisco.
Here you’ll find cafes, bars, art galleries and high-end retail stores and boutiques.
Beaches in the San Francisco Area
San Francisco is surrounded by water on three sides.
So, it’s not a surprise that there are quite a few beaches.
Some of them offer nice views of the Golden Gate Bridge, but some of them are nice for chilling and a relaxing stroll. Some of the best beaches, however, are located outside the city, in the San Francisco Area.
The most popular beaches in San Francisco Area are:
- Baker Beach — known for great Golden Gate Bridge views;
- China Beach — a lovely, small beach surrounded by cliffs, one of San Francisco’s most beautiful beaches;
- Fort Funston Beach — a pretty beach backed by tall bluffs;
- Ocean Beach — a long beach west of Golden Gate Park, great for walking, surfing and windsurfing;
- Muir Beach — a small beach set in a cove, a part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area;
- Stinson Beach — a long beach in Bolinas Bay.
Despite having so many wonderful beaches, San Francisco is not really for swimming. The water is cold, and there are strong currents making San Francisco beaches unsafe for swimming.
The Twin Peaks are two hills located in the middle of San Francisco.
Due to the location, the Twin Peaks boast some of the finest views of the city.
The hills are easy to access. You can drive there — there is parking on the north peak. Alternatively, you can hike to Twin Peaks. There are several paths leading to the top.
San Francisco Travel Tips
- Citizens of many European countries don’t need a visa to travel to the U.S., but are required to obtain an electronic authorisation (ESTA).
- There is only one official ESTA website and that is https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. The official fee is $14.00. All other sites offering this service are the third party, and they charge extra.
- The power plugs and sockets are of type A and B. The standard voltage is 120 V. Buy a travel adapter and converter to safely use your electronics.
- Tipping is customary in the United States. A tip of 20% on top of the bill is standard.
- The best time to visit San Francisco is May-June and September-October. The peak tourist season is during the summertime.
- Make sure you ride the iconic San Francisco cable car — the world’s last manually operated cable car, and one of the symbols of the city.
- San Francisco has a great transport network. You don’t need to rent a car when travelling to San Francisco. It is one of the best cities in the United States for getting around without a car.
- But probably the best way to explore San Francisco is on foot. In fact, San Francisco is one of the most walkable cities in the United States. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes though!
- San Francisco has cool weather, even in the summer. So, pack jeans and a warm jacket too.
- San Francisco is known for its great food. It’s one of the best destinations for foodies in the United States.