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Top 20 Tourist Attractions of San Francisco

  1. Legion of Honor
Legion of Honor

The city of San Francisco is home to several museums, but this one stands apart for its architectural grace. The Legion of Honor is a part of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco in Lincoln Park. It can be identified with its stunning Neo-classical Beaux-Arts façade complete with a fine array of Corinthian columns. The museum itself is also quite significant with its large collection of paintings and sculptures, mostly focusing on European masters. One of its most prized collections is the iconic The Thinker by Augsute Rodin.

 

  1. AT&T Park
Aerial view of the AT&T Park

The AT&T Park is a baseball park that is home to the famous San Francisco Giants team. Located on the eastern shoreline, the park was opened to the public in the year 2000. It can accommodate nearly 45,000 spectators. Even if you do not get to watch any baseball game at the park, you can opt for the guided tour which will give you insights and exciting stories of the park.

 

  1. California Academy of Sciences
California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is a part of the Golden Gate Park, which is already listed. However, the attraction deserves a separate mention due to its cultural significance and popularity. This natural history museum is one of the largest of its kind in the  world with a collection of around 26 million specimens. Although the academy was established way back in 1853, the present museum building is from 2008, after the previous building was damaged in the 2006 earthquake. The attractions of the Academy include Rainforests of the World, Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium, and Kimball Natural History Museum.

 

  1. de Young Museum
de Young Museum

The de Young Museum is dedicated to the fine arts and is located inside the Golden Gate Park. It was established in 1895 and is presently named after its founder M H de Young. It is housed in a Spanish-Plateresque styled building and attracts over 1.5 million visitors every year. The museum has historical exhibits from all over the world. There is a 144-foot tall twisting tower that has become a signature of the museum building. Visitors are allowed free access to the top of this tower, which has sweeping views of the Golden Gate Park.

 

  1. Angel Island
View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Angel Island

Angel Island is situated to the north of San Francisco, beyond Alcatraz Island. The whole island, covering 1.2 square miles, is part of the Angel Island State Park. It has an elevation of over 788 feet offering magnificent panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island, Golden Gate Bridge, and the city of San Francisco. If you are a hiking or camping enthusiast then you will certainly enjoy a visit to this island which has 11 campsites and 5 picnic areas.

 

  1. Twin Peaks
Bird’s eye view of San Francisco from Twin Peaks

The Twin Peaks are two identical hills located right in the geographical center of San Francisco. Although they are not the highest in the city, the Twin Peaks are best known for the sweeping views of the city of San Francisco that they offer. The peaks have an elevation of 925 feet with the northern one named Eureka and the southern one Noi. If you are visiting San Francisco on a clear sunny day, then a visit to the Twin Peaks is a must. From the Twin Peaks, you can even see Santa Ana Mountain which is 143 kilometers away.

 

  1. Asian Art Museum
Asian Art Museum

The Asian Art Museum is located on Larkin Street in San Francisco. With a collection of over 18,000 items, this museum boasts the most comprehensive Asian art collections in the world. These items, some dating back to almost 6000 years ago, are displayed in an area of about 185,000 square feet. The museum was established in 1966 and used to share space with the de Young Museum until 2003. The galleries in the museum are divided into several sections like Central Asia, South Asia, Iran, China, Japan, and the Himalayas.

 

  1. Palace Hotel
Palm Court Restaurant in the Palace Hotel

The Palace Hotel is one of the historic landmarks of the city of San Francisco. The original hotel dates back to 1875. However, that building was destroyed in the earthquake of 1906 and the one that we see now dates back to 1909. It is for this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the New Palace Hotel. The hotel may seem rather simple from the outside but will amaze you with its grandeur inside. Even if you are not planning to stay in the hotel, you can visit the classy Palm Court Restaurant for a tea and snacks. The restaurant was the shooting location of the Hollywood film ‘The Game’ starring Michael Douglas.

 

  1. Exploratorium
Exploratorium

The Exploratorium is a science museumon Pier 15 in San Francisco. New York Times described this museum as the ‘most important science museum to have opened since the mid 20th century.’ It has a wide array of displays and interactive exhibits that will excite not only  children but also adults. It was founded in 1969 at the Palace of Fine Arts, but moved to its present location in 2013. So if you are visiting with kids, then the Exploratorium is certainly a stop for you for a few hours of science and fun.

 

  1. Palace of Fine Arts
Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts is the only remaining piece of architecture from the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. The whole area went through a major restoration in 1965 to give it the present-day look. The ‘palace’ and its surroundings make up one of the most beautiful places in San Francisco, where you can go for a relaxed afternoon stroll. The place has a serene scenic ambiance making it a popular venue for weddings.

 

  1. Ghirardelli Square
Ghirardelli Square

Ghirardelli Square is a beautiful public square in the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood of San Francisco. The square gets its name from the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company which owned the site until the early 1960s. In the following years it went through changes in ownership before being converted to a restaurant and retail commercial complex. Ghirardelli still owns a store in the lower level of the complex. The square is a great place to spend some time shopping and snacking.

 

  1. San Francisco Zoo
San Francisco Zoo

The San Francisco Zoo is located on the western coastline of San Francisco, just north of the Lake Merced Park. It was established in 1929 and presently spans over an area of 100 acres. The zoo is home to over 1000 animals belonging to over 250 different species. Some of the most popular sections of the zoo include the Primate Discovery Center, Cat Kingdom, and Penguin Island.

 

  1. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
SFMOMA – Museum of Modern Art

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – SFMOMA – is a prominent modern art museum of California. It was established in 1935 and presently has a collection of over 33000 pieces of art. With a display space of over 170,000 square feet, SFMOMA is one of the largest modern and contemporary art museums in the world. Keep some time in hand if you are planning to explore the museum in full, as it is spread across 10 floors after the major 2016 renovation. Artists featured in the museum include Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Diego Rivera, and Larry Sultan, to name a few.

 

  1. Golden Gate National Recreation Area
View from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Not to be confused with the Golden Gate Park, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is located on the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is one of the largest urban parks in the world spanning over an expansive 82,000 acres. The park was established in 1972 and is one of the most visited attractions in the US, with an annual footfall of over 15 million. There are several attractions that fall within the park premises. Some of the most notable attractions include several forts and beaches, the historic Sutro District, the ridges of San Mateo County, and Oakwood Valley. It also has several campsites.

 

  1. Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island is located in the San Francisco Bay, about 1.25 miles from the coast. This rocky island of 22 acres is home to several attractions, most prominent being the oldest lighthouse on the western coast of the US, and a former federal prison. The federal prison, officially the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, was claimed to be the most secure prison in the world. It held some of the most notorious and high-profile criminals and convicts like Al Capone, George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly, Robert Stroud, and Bumpy Johnson. The island and the prison have been featured in several popular Hollywood movies like Escape from Alcatraz, The Rock, Catch Me If You Can, and Point Blank.

 

  1. Cable Cars
Cable Car in San Francisco with the Alcatraz Island in the background

The Cable Cars of San Francisco is not only a cultural icon and heritage of the city, it is also one of its most prominent tourist attractions. The cable car network was introduced in 1873 and today remains the last manually operated cable car system in the world. Although only 3 of the original 23 routes are operational, the cable cars are a great way to explore several attractions of the city in a vintage fashion. One of the most popular routes is the one from the Fisherman’s Wharf to Union Square, as it passes several attractions of the city.

 

  1. Chinatown
San Francisco Chinatown

Almost every major city in the world has a Chinatown, so what makes the San Francisco Chinatown so special? It is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinatown outside Asia. The neighborhood was badly damaged in the earthquake of 1906 but was completely renovated and revamped to make it even more appealing. Enter the neighborhood through the Gateway at Grant Avenue and you will be transported to a world miles apart from the rest of San Francisco. Chinese temples, antique stores, traditional medicine shops, and the occasional Chinese restaurant are the main features of the San Francisco Chinatown.

 

  1. Golden Gate Park
Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden in the Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is a large urban park a few miles south of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is rectangular in shape, much like the Central Park in New York City, but is 20 percent larger in size. The park, with an annual footfall of about 13 million, is one of the most visited parks in the US. It was established in 1870 and spreads an expansive 1017 acres. It has a number of attractions including the Music Concourse – an open air plaza, De Young Museum of fine arts, a natural history museum, the Japanese Tea Garden, and the Conservatory of Flowers. There are several gardens in the park, dotted with statues, windmills, eateries, and walkways.

 

  1. Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is a very popular tourist attraction in San Francisco. This neighborhood is located at the north eastern tip of the city, looking straight at the Alcatraz Island. The place gets its name from the Italian immigrant fishermen who populated the neighborhood during the years of the Gold Rush. Today, it is a major commercial center, with plenty of shopping and dining options. You can explore the whole area by foot. A good place to start would be Pier 45. Walk southward to Jefferson Street and then walk eastward to Pier 41. Attractions at Fisherman’s Wharf include several art galleries, Madame Tussauds, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

 

  1. Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most-recognized bridges in the world, thanks to it being featured in numerous movies and television shows over the decades. This 2.7 km long bridge joins the city of San Francisco with Marin County across the San Francisco Bay. For 27 years since its opening in 1937, this was the longest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge rises to a height of over 227 m and one of the most unique images of the bridge is when it is covered with fog with only the two towers peaking above it. The bridge has cycling path as well as a walkway for pedestrians. The Bridge Pavilion on the San Francisco side of the bridge has a café, visitor center, and a gift shop.

Originally posted 2017-07-18 06:59:38.

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