Origin of the Hippie vibe, home of the iconic Golden Gate bridge, and capital of the silicon valley, it’s a very special place in the USA. San Francisco offers tons of special things to do, but first, you’ll discover its hills that so many cars flew on, and you will enjoy them while walking in the city, it’s a permanent up and down, a real urban hike that your legs will remember. The urban design is quite unique and very charming, and you are completely surrounded by the Pacific ocean with great viewpoints all around the city. There are too many top things to do in San Francisco, I’m not a fan of the long to 50+ lists, so I’ve grouped the places by location in this top 5 things to do in San Francisco.
1- The Golden Gate bridge
The symbol of San Francisco, a majestic architectural masterpiece with an astonishing view of all San Francisco and the Pacific ocean. The best is to cross by car to the opposite side to San Francisco where the view is absolutely crazy. You can have a walk on the bridge to truly measure its size. A truly amazing experience.
2- Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 and Ghiradelli Square
The most special place of San Francisco, from rustic piers to seafood shops to see lions, you really feel like in a far Island. The pier 39 worth the visit on its own, hundreds of sea lions in one the biggest cities of the USA. Those happy animals migrated here from far Pacific islands after an earthquake in the late 80s. Get some fresh seafood snacks the American way…means huge, a crab stick can feed 3 people. You’ll find interesting shops at Ghiradelli Square especially for marine clothes and decoration. If you have time you can visit the Marine Museum to get a taste of San Francisco Whales fishing history. This is how it all started in the late 19th century.
3- Alcatraz, the Rock
One of the most iconic prisons in the world. Featured on various great movies like “The Rock” or “Escape from Alcatraz”. Visting the Rock is like living a movie, the history of the place is added to the movies heritage and you get a very impactful experience at the end. If you want to get inside the island and visit the prison, you need to take a special cruise that will land on the Rock (many companies mention Alcatraz as part of a package but you’ll just get a close view from your boat).
4- Ride a Cable car and walk in iconic streets
Another symbol of San Franciso, the rustic Cable car. A genius system to get hundreds of streetcar move between all the hills of San Francisco. Once inside, check out how the breaks work, a very basic but efficient technique.
As you go up to the new city, you need to stop at the Painted Ladies, a very beautiful set of colorful houses build in 1849.
You can end your trip in the Union Square for some shopping in the modern side of San Francisco.
5- China Town
Home of the largest Chinese community outside China. You really feel in Beijing, the whole 8 blocks of the town are very well decorated in a harmonious Chinese style. You can find some very exotic shops and restaurant to live a travel inside your travel.
Other great things to do in San Francisco
Muir Woods National Monument
It’s a small version of the Sequoia National Park and named after John Muir, the most famous California explorer and Father of all USA National parks, especially Yosemite Park. It’s a very peaceful visit in the middle of huge Sequoia trees. You can also stop at Sausalito, a very charming town north to San Francisco.
The hearth of the Silicon Valley. Worth a visit to know where all the great apps are designed and coded. And you have all the big names in one single area from Apple to Facebook to Google to Amazon. A huge concentration of brains and a big melting pot of digital savvies from all cultures. We got the interesting experience of enjoying a restaurant meal next to a table where 3 Google developers were discussing the locations search result algorithnme. This can only happen in Palo Alto!