Thoughts of San Francisco bring images of the wonderful Golden Gate Bridge, the incredible Alcatraz Island and the old cable cars that have run up and down the hill here since 1873. It is a city that combines historic landmarks with a modern economy for a unique holidaying experience.
California is often pictured as a year-round sun worshippers paradise but it is the fog and unpredictable weather that gives San Francisco a certain charm. It is a seven-by-seven-mile peninsula that has 43 hills and an array of microclimates.
A vibrant and exciting city, if you go with an open-mind then you will be talking about this trip for many years to come. Whether you use it as the final destination for a US break or add it to a trip through California, the Bohemian neighbourhoods and iconic locations are all there ready to enchant you.
The most iconic attraction in San Francisco is Alcatraz Island. Reservations are needed to visit this place so make sure you have these before arrival as you go to what was once the home of super criminals like Al Capone. A prison with the feel of a fortress building, the spot is surrounded by a wild and freezing sea, which claimed the lives of any prisoner who attempted to escape.
During its time, this has also been a Civil War Fort, a symbol of Native American plight and a military base. Now it is purely a tourist hotspot and you can take a sightseeing tour around Alcatraz as you hear the infamous tales of the past.
You can’t go to San Francisco without crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Arguably the most incredible suspension bridge in the world, it was finished in 1937 and links the northern tip of the peninsula with Marin County. At three-miles long it might be ambitious to walk the distance but you really need to take a drive across and get a picture of this beautiful piece of engineering.
Not quite as awe-inspiring, but still stunning, is Bay Bridge which connects San Francisco and Oakland. The double decker bridge carries almost a quarter of a million vehicles each day.
San Francisco has the oldest Chinatown district in the United States and this cannot be missed as you try some of the delicious cuisine. If you are here in January then the Chinese New Year is met with a spectacular parade that you won’t want to miss.
If you feel up to the walking task then stroll through the city stopping at various intervals, including the crooked and steep Lombard Street, as you go. Alternatively, hop on one of the old fashioned cable cars to give you the chance to see this city in all its glory.
Places to look out for include Telegraph Hill with its soaring skyscrapers, like the Transamerica building, and the unique Coit Tower as well as Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill. For the best view of the city, take a trip to Buena Vista Park and enjoy the stunning panoramic. Be sure to take a trip to the Pier 39 area if you are here in January to watch the arrival of the barking sea lions.
Family fun can be found at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park and you can head to Fisherman’s Wharf for some child-focused entertainment. For something a bit different, try the Bay Vista helicopter tour to get a wonderful view of the whole city.
The city has long championed the idea of using sustainable farm-to-table produce for seasonal menus. This is widely used throughout the city and has played a part in the locals feeling that San Francisco is the best dining destination in the United States. From Chinatown to Italian bistros at North Beach to vegetarian and ethnic food at Haight-Ashbury, you have plenty of choice. After food, there are a great deal of options for dancing or drinking the night away. From bars to lounges to nightclubs to comedy to live music, the city comes alive - North Beach is a great place to spend an evening.
A city filled with an eclectic mix of things to see and do, San Francisco isn’t your classic Californian location. Iconic destinations like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz entice tourists but it is the character of this destination that sticks in the mind of visitors.
San Francisco is a melting pot of old meets new, a place with an exciting, forward-thinking population but one that also has a spot in its heart for the fascinating history of the city. From riding a traditional cable car to watching sea lions at Pier 39, each day is a new adventure.
Discover how true the hype is by taking the opportunity to visit one of the most impressive cities in the United States.
Things to do in San Francisco
San Francisco is an incredible city with diversity and a free spirit. Find out more about adding this on to a California tour or taking a break there now by calling Travelbag today.
The peak season of June through August sees the majority of visitors and, whilst this is the summer, the microclimates in San Francisco can change the temperature rapidly.
There is a more professional look to the city than the rest of California, so you might want to consider this when packing. It is recommended that you pack layers for your trip because of the way the weather varies.
You might not get the chance to break out the shorts and t-shirts so be sure to have a sweater, long sleeved shirts, jeans, black pants, light jackets and comfortable walking shoes that are ready for the trials of this great city.
To protect yourself from the elements then a hat will be useful, sunglasses and sun cream is needed whenever you travel and a travel-sized umbrella will come in extremely useful. As you are in the United States, most toiletries and medical supplies are easily available so just pack the essentials.
San Francisco enjoys dry summers and mild winters and you will tend to find that cool mornings with fog moves towards afternoons of temperatures between 12ºC and 21ºC before it cools off again once the sun sets.
Although it isn’t far from Los Angeles, you get a completely different type of holiday from the City by the Bay. You don’t get much rain, although chances do increase between December and March, but you need to pack with layers because it isn’t a place for inland summers and the temperature can drop very quickly.
Check out our Blog to see some of the amazing experiences San Francisco has to offer
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