No other city combines sea breezes with Victorian architecture quite like San Francisco does. With its Gold Rush roots, worldwide fame through the film industry and its proximity to modern Silicon Valley, San Francisco spans eras as easily as its famous bridges span the shark-filled bay.
At the heart of its seafaring history is the city's bayfront, where many of San Francisco's most famous attractions lie. For fresh seafood, don't miss the steaming sidewalk crab pots of Fisherman's Wharf. Then swing by Ghiradelli Square for a bite of world-famous chocolate before you check out the historic sailing vessels at the National Maritime Historical Park. To round out your waterfront adventure, peruse the more than 100 stores, restaurants and amusements of Pier 39.
When you're ready for a more pastorale escape, Golden Gate Park awaits. Here you'll find the glass-enclosed Conservatory of Flowers and its hundreds of rare and tropical plants. San Francisco's Asian culture is evident in the Chinese-style Golden Gate Pavilion as well as in the classical Japanese Tea Garden. Then journey east--literally and figuratively--to Japantown's massive pagoda and varied import stores.
At the northwest tip of the San Francisco area is the former army base best known as the Presidio. Until its closure in the 1990s, it was America's longest-used military base. Today, the Presidio encompasses recreational areas like Baker Beach and family attractions like the Exploratorium science museum in addition to historic architecture found at Fort Point and the Palace of Fine Arts, which dates to the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area is another must-see and spans both north and south sides of the entrance to San Francisco Bay. To the south is the Cliff House, whose panoramic views have lured visitors since the mid 1800s. Above the Cliff House, Sutro Park provides equally breathtaking scenery. Nearby is the Legion of Honor, which commemorates the fallen heroes of World War I and is the home of Rodin's famous statue, "Thinker."
After heading north over the city's most famous landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge, you'll enter the Marin Headlands portion of the recreation area. In addition to stunning views of the famed bridge, the headlands area offers hiking trails, beaches and access to historic military installations.
There sure is a lot to see when you visit one of the most distinct, beautiful, and internationally recognized cities in the world. So don't blame us if this online preview has you checking plane ticket prices a moment later.