Things to do and see on your first visit to San Francisco
Going to San Francisco for the first time? This city has something for everyone; the must-sees for first-timers, enough outdoor activities, plus food and wine. Here are a few tips to help you plan an unforgettable visit.
1. Golden Gate bridge
A good place to start your visit is a trip across the Golden Gate Bridge. This iconic symbol of the city and the city's most popular tourist attraction spans the Golden Gate Strait that connects the Pacific Ocean with the San Francisco Bay, and was built to ease travel between San Francisco and Marin County. The beautifully evergreen Central Park is about 174 acres bigger than New York’s Central Park. The park offers much to see and do; trails, picturesque picnic spaces, playgrounds, sports courts, gardens, museums and more. Because of its size you’d better plan ahead and decide where you want to go and what you want to see.
2. Take a ride on a Cable Car
Cable cars are an integral part of San Francisco’s history and the system is the last of its kind in the United States. A ride on a cable car will help you fully experience San Francisco's charm. Cable cars date back to the late 1800s and you can visit the Cable Car museum to learn more of its (and San Francisco’s) history.
3. Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz is rich with history, best known as the site of the infamous and now closed federal prison, which has been featured in a number of movies. A tour to Alcatraz Island, a small, rocky island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, will bring the sometimes tragic but always interesting history of the island to life. The attraction receives about one million visitors per year.
4. Fisherman's Warf
Although Fisherman's Wharf tends to swarm with tourists, this waterfront neighborhood still has a multitude of draw cards; one of these is Pier 39. The Pier’s attraction features plenty of shopping and restaurant options for tourists and also offers sweeping views of the bay, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.
5. Ferry Building Marketplace
Make sure you’re hungry when you visit the Ferry Building Marketplace, it’s the only way to enjoy this scrumptious attraction. The food market features a range of food stalls that act as small restaurants, snack stops and grocery stores. Here you’ll find everything from staples, like seafood, burgers, Mexican food and coffee, to a Japanese delicatessen, nut shop and a cheese and dairy bar.
6. AT&T park
AT&T park is the home stadium of the San Francisco Giants and has hosted multiple World Series games. It is one of the most scenic baseball parks in the United States because of its picturesque position along the San Francisco Bay. If there’s a game on during your visit, try to take it in – even if just for the prime views of the bay from many of the seats.
7. The Mission District
Despite attracting San Francisco's young bohemian crowd in the past decade, the neighborhood has retained its authentic, local Mexican ambiance. Check out a local eatery for burritos as it from here that they have become famous worldwide. Visiting the Mission also provides a nice change from the heavily visited tourist areas. On a sunny day, try the nearby Dolores Park, a popular spot for sunbathers.
8. Wine tasting
The area around San Francisco is world renowned for its fine wines, and if you like a glass with your meal, be sure to make time for a wine tour. There are a number of wine tours, Max Napa wine tours, or take the wine country tour shuttle to move between wineries.
9. The Exploratorium
The Exploratorium is half museum, half learning laboratory. It features 600 hands-on exhibits with standout interactive offerings. It’s a must see for anyone interested in how the world around us work.
10. Take in a summer concert
If you visit San Francisco during summer, do take in a summer concert. Outside Lands is a three-day concert held every summer (usually 11 to 13th August) in the beautiful Golden Gate Park. It features a wide variety of performances as well as access to restaurants, wineries and breweries.
Travelers tip: The San Francisco website is packed with useful information about what’s going on in the city; from the usual tourist attractions to theaters, bay cruises, walking and biking and gardens to visit.