When it comes to finding San Francisco area attractions, you don’t have to look far. From iconic attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz to beloved destinations like Fisherman’s Wharf, China Town and Union Street, there is something amazing for everyone to enjoy in San Francisco.
Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the opening of the San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean. As part of both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1, the structure links the city of San Francisco, on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, to Marin County. It is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States. It has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Frommers travel guide considers the Golden Gate Bridge “possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world”
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park is a large urban park consisting of 1,017 acres of public grounds. Configured as a rectangle, it is similar in shape but 20 percent larger than Central Park in New York, to which it is often compared. It is over three miles (5 km) long east to west, and about half a mile north to south. With 13 million visitors annually, Golden Gate is the fifth most-visited city park in the United States after Central Park in New York City, Lincoln Park in Chicago, and Mission Bay and Balboa parks in San Diego.
Alcatraz Island is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) offshore from San Francisco. Often referred to as “The Rock,” the small island was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison (1868), and a federal prison from 1933 until 1963. In 1972 Alcatraz became a national recreation area and received designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
Fisherman’s Wharf is a neighborhood and popular tourist attraction in San Francisco. It roughly encompasses the northern waterfront area from Ghirardelli Square or Van Ness Avenue east to Pier 35 or Kearny Street. The F Market streetcar runs through the area, the Powell-Hyde cable car lines runs to Aquatic Park, at the edge of Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Powell-Mason cable car line runs a few blocks away.
Chinatown in San Francisco is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia. Since its establishment in 1848, it has been highly important and influential in the history and culture of ethnic Chinese immigrants in North America. Chinatown is an enclave that continues to retain its own customs, languages, places of worship, social clubs, and identity. There are two hospitals, numerous parks and squares, a post office, and other infrastructure. Visitors can easily become immersed in a microcosmic Asian world, filled with herbal shops, temples, pagoda roofs and dragon parades. In addition to being a starting point and home for thousands of Chinese immigrants, it is also a major tourist attraction, drawing more visitors annually than the Golden Gate Bridge.
Union Square is a 2.6-acre public plaza bordered by Geary, Powell, Post and Stockton Streets. “Union Square” also refers to the central shopping, hotel, and theater district that surrounds the plaza for several blocks. The area got its name because it was once used for rallies and support for the Union Army during the American Civil War, earning its designation as a California Historical Landmark. Today, this one-block plaza and surrounding area is one of the largest collections of department stores, upscale boutiques, gift shops, art galleries, and beauty salons in the United States, making Union Square a major tourist destination, a vital, cosmopolitan gathering place in downtown San Francisco, and one of the world’s premier shopping districts.
Coit Tower, also known as the Lillian Coit Memorial Tower, is a 210-foot (64 m) tower in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood. The tower, in the city’s Pioneer Park, was built in 1933 using Lillie Hitchcock Coit’s bequest to beautify the city of San Francisco; at her death in 1929 Coit left one-third of her estate to the city for civic beautification. The tower was proposed in 1931 as an appropriate use of Coit’s gift. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 29, 2008.
Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District is a monumental structure originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in order to exhibit works of art presented there. One of only a few surviving structures from the Exposition, it is the only one still situated on its original site. It was rebuilt in 1965, and renovation of the lagoon, walkways, and a seismic retrofit were completed in early 2009.