San Francisco is a fascinating city with lots to see and do. Take the first day to browse this guide to San Francisco, familiarize yourself with the city, and do a few basics, such as a visit to Alcatraz or the Golden Gate Bridge. Then you can visit some or all the places below.
Chinatown is demarcated by Bush, Broadway, Powell, and Kearny Streets. Its maze of streets and alleys hide state-licensed pharmacies selling traditional herbal medicines, shops offering anything from trinkets to jade carvings, and restaurants serving dim sum and regional Chinese dishes.
- Alamo Square and the Painted Ladies
Alamo Square Park is located on top of a hill overlooking downtown San Francisco. From here you can see stunning views, including the world-famous Painted Ladies, a row of colorful 19th-century Victorian houses.
Japantown is demarcated by Fillmore, Sutter, Geary, and Laguna Streets. The main event is the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in April, with a parade, traditional music, and food. Look out for the Japan Center, the Peace Pagoda, and the Nihonmachi Mall for Japanese culture.
- Mission Dolores
Spanish colonists built the beautiful Mission Dolores in 1791, and it is San Francisco’s oldest building. The baroque altar came from Mexico in 1796. The museum displays religious articles from the Mission period in California.
- Cable Car Museum and Cable Car Rides
San Francisco’s cable cars replaced horse-drawn carts in 1873 because it was hard for horses to drag so much weight uphill on the steepest streets. All three cable car lines are towed by a loop of cable beneath the street. You can see the giant wheels in action inside the museum.
- Lombard Street
Called “the crookedest street in the world,” Lombard Streets drops from Hyde Street to Leavenworth with a series of switchbacks and hairpin bends. If you walk down the steps, you’ll be able to enjoy the fantastic views without having to negotiate the tight curves.
- Boudin Bakery
The Fisherman’s Wharf flagship store is the home of the mother dough, which Boudin Bakery has been making sourdough since the 1840s. While you wait for a table at the bistro, you can visit the museum and follow the bread-making process from the 30-foot observation window.
- Hyde Street Pier
Five historic cargo vessels from the late 1800s and early 1900s are moored at the wooden Hyde St. Pier and are open to visitors. The nearby Maritime Museum and Visitor Center highlights San Francisco’s role as a seaport.
- Muir Woods National Monument
This amazing redwood forest, with specimens as tall as 254 feet and as old as 1,000 years, is located across the Golden Gate Bridge down the Panoramic Highway. The Cathedral Grove and the Bohemian Grove contain the largest trees.
Sausalito is a quiet town that hugs the hills above the harbor and is a ferry ride away from San Francisco. Go see the shops, galleries, and restaurants along Bridgeway and the houseboats moored at Gate 5.
Enjoy your stay in the Bay Area!
*This post is a collaboration with GoDoTrip. As usual, the opinions and photos are all mine.