San Francisco Sightseeing
The AT&T Stadium
Go and visit the home of the world famous San Francisco Giants baseball team. Although tickets are hard to come by (just 500 are released to the general public via lottery), you can go on a guided tour of the stadium and venture behind the scenes. The tour takes you to the press box, the dugouts, the suites, the changing rooms and much more.
www.sfgiants.com, Embarcadero, Tel: 415 972 2000.
Adults $10, children $6. Open daily except for match days.
You will need to arrive 20 minutes before each boat departs from Fisherman’s Wharf to go on a guided tour of the famous Alcatraz Island – home of course to the notorious former prison of the same name. The island is visible from Fisherman’s Wharf as you board the boat to the island where the maximum security prison opened its doors for the first time in 1934. Surrounded by sheer cliff drops, rough seas and cold water temperatures, the prison was regarded as completely escape-proof. Among its most famous prisoners were gangsters Al Capone, Robert Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz), Machine Gun Kelly and Alvin Karpis. The prison was closed in 1963 following a large-scale escape effort from its confines, although no bodies were found subsequently. In 1969, Native Americans reclaimed the island for the Indian people, until the government took action in 1971 and removed them. The fascinating two and a half hour tour takes you around the island (now home to a variety of wildlife) and of course the prison itself, which includes an audio tour and talks from the on-hand guides.
www.nps.gov/alcatraz, (boats depart Pier 33, Fisherman’s Wharf) Tel: 001 415 981 7625
Adults $24.50, children $15.50.
San Francisco’s Cable Cars
What visit to San Francisco can be complete without boarding one of its famous cable cars, which saunter up and down the city’s steep hills? The cable cars were introduced to San Francisco in 1873 to the wonder of the general public, who gazed in astonishment at how the cars (each weighing six tonnes) ran without an engine (they run on a steel cable via electricity). Each cable car holds around 100 people, with conductors on hand to stop any possible overcrowding, although be warned: Queues of up to two hours to board are regular occurrences during the summer months.
Because of the numerous hills and vantage points, there are many places to get an incredible view of this wonderful city. However, nothing compares to the views seen from Coit Tower on Top of Telegraph Hill near North Beach. This round stone tower offers unbeatable panoramas of the city itself and of course San Francisco Bay for a picture-perfect setting.
Telegraph Hill, Tel: 001 415 362 0808. Free admission.
The Ferry Building Marketplace
You don’t have to be a food lover to enjoy a visit to this gourmet marketplace as you take in the smell and the taste of the very essence of San Franciscan cuisine. Stroll through the Ferry Building sampling local produce such as fine cheeses, wines, meats, fish, chocolate and much more. The marketplace also offers a myriad of restaurants, coffee shops, speciality food shops and cafes, with many of them offering superb views of San Francisco Bay. This is simply a ‘must do’ part of any visit to San Francisco.
www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com, The Ambacadero, Market Street.
Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco is of course home to the most photographed and most famous bridge in the entire world. San Francisco’s defining landmark was opened in 1937, comprising 1.7 miles in length, sitting 746 feet above the water. Park your car and traverse the bridge by foot to truly understood what a monstrous, yet staggering engineering feat the Golden Gate truly is.
www.goldengatebridge.org $5 toll if crossing by car.
San Francisco is famous for its large, steep, descending streets, with Lombard Street being its most famous. Known as the “most crooked street in the world,” thousands of visitors marvel at just how steep it is and the bizarre snaking route cars have to take in order to get up and down it. The brick-lined street zig-zags around houses and makes for an odd, yet great photo opportunity!
Situated between Hyde Street and Leavenworth Street
Many consider the Exploratorium to be the best science museum on the planet. Both adults and children will adore the amount of amazing activities and exhibits to explore which include everything from giant bubble blowing, the “Mad Scientist’s Penny Arcade” to an experimental laboratory and more. Here you are able to ‘touch a tornado’, shape a live electrical current or partake in a fascinating interactive guide to Einstein’s theory of relativity. Hours can be spent within the Exploratorium marvelling at all the different exhibits, so be sure to leave a morning or afternoon free to get the most out of a visit.
www.exploratorium.edu, 3601 Lyon Street. Tel: 001 451 561 0360
Adults $13, children $8.
The Legion of Honour
This exact replica of the same name in Paris is designed as a memorial to the people of California who gave their lives during World War I. This moving memorial sits in a large grassy area alongside cliffs which yield awesome views of the Golden Gate Bridge and downtown San Francisco. Inside, you will find an impressive museum which houses a collection of paintings, art and sculptures which date back some 4000 years and also one of the world’s most elaborate collections of Rodin sculptures.
www.thinker.org, 34th Avenue, Lincoln Park. Tel: 001 451 863 3330
Adults $10, children $6.
De Young Museum
De Young is San Francisco’s oldest museum, first opening in 1895 and exhibits one of the greatest collections of American paintings in the entire country, dating from Colonial times right through to the modern day. As well as conventional paintings from America, you will also find arts, crafts and textiles from across the globe, with many exhibits displayed through state-of-the-art revolving displays. The museum itself is worth visiting for the architecture alone, with a striking exterior consisting of almost 950,000 pounds of perforated copper at the forefront, coupled with a 144 foot tower which also encompasses an observation deck that looks across San Francisco Bay and the city itself.
www.thinker.org, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park.
Adults $10, children $6.