San Francisco is an eclectic city that impressed me at first glance, through the variety in its geography, topography and architectural styles.
Situated in northern California, on an 11 square kilometers peninsula, on 44 hills, San Francisco has an original architecture, a spectacular mix between Europe and America.
Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Alcatraz prison, famous Lombard Street, sea lions, Victorian houses are just some of the attractions that make San Francisco a spectacular and unique city in the world.
Before exploring the city, take a jacket and prepare yourself for a temperate-oceanic weather with wind, fog and clouds, and from time to time sunbaths.
Below are 15 attractions in San Francisco that you can visit in 3 days.
1 Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the most popular neighborhoods in San Francisco, having many touristic attractions.
Located on the waterfront, it features Ghirardelli Square, Pier 39, the starting point for the ferry going to Alcatraz, as well as many seafood restaurants and souvenir shops.
2 Pier 39
Pier 39 is located at the edge of Fisherman’s Wharf, close to North Beach, Chinatown and Embarcadero. The area is easily accessible by cable cars.
From the pier you can see Angel Island, Alcatraz Island, Golden Gate Bridge and sea lions. The Blue & Gold Fleet cruise ships depart from Pier 39.
You must try the seafood plate at Fog Harbor Fish House Restaurant, which is right at Pier 39 entrance.
The Alcatraz island is home of the former federal prison where Al Capone “Scarface”, George Kelley “Machine Gun” and Robert Stroud “The Birdman” were imprisoned.
In order to visit the prison, you have to buy the tickets long time before. Alcatraz Cruises https://www.alcatrazcruises.com/ is the official source of transport tickets on the island. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone or by person.
- Online: www.alcatrazcruises.com
- Phone: 1-415-981-ROCK (415-981-7625)
- In person: At the ferry departure point at Pier 33
We did not get tickets early on for the Alcatraz trip, so we took a boat ride, passing under the Golden Gate Bridge, where we watched the whales in San Francisco Bay.
4 Ghirardelli Square
In the Fichermans Wharf area, if you walk along the waterfront, you reach Ghirardelli Square, a public market that houses many shops and restaurants.
On the place where the market is now, before was a chocolate factory, founded by Domenico “Domingo” Ghirardelli in 1895.
The area is one of San Francisco’s most enjoyable shopping and walking spots.
Address: 900 North Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109, USA
5 Golden Gate
Golden Gate was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1964, measuring 2.7 kilometers. It is the symbol of San Francisco and is also the most photographed bridge in the world.
On January 20, 2017, San Francisco celebrated 80 years since the inauguration of the bridge, which still has a modern style and is the number one attraction of San Francisco.
6 Golden Gate Park
Having a 4,12 km2 area, the huge Golden Gate Park is an oasis of green and relaxation, having a lot of attractions such as: the Young Museum, the Academy of Sciences, Japanese Tea Garden, Conservatory of Flowers, Kezar Stadium (Polo Field.
The Japanese garden, where you can find a tea house, is my favorite attraction in Golden Gate Park. A walk through this garden creates an intense sense of awakening through the sounds of the waterfalls, the warm light of the royal headlights and the blooming smell of the flowers.
7 Cliff House
You can not visit San Francisco without stopping at Cliff House Restaurant. The location is in a building with a struggled history, that was built in 1863 by Charles Butle, a real estate mogul.
Over the time it has undergone all sorts of changes, even burned several times, but it has always been rebuilt. The view from there is amazing, the building being located on rocks, right on the ocean.
You can have lunch while admiring the hundreds of seagulls from the Seal Rock, or the ruins of the Sutro Baths.
Address: 1090 Point Lobos Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94121
8 China Beach
The beach is located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, in a small bay, between Lands End and Baker Beach. China Beach has a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Named after the Chinese fishermen who camped here in the past, the beach is a great place to relax. Also is one of the safest beaches for families, having shallow waters for children to play.
9 Nob Hill
Nob Hill is a rich neighborhood in San Francisco, one of the 44 hills of the city, its center being at the intersection of California Street and Powell Street. There are located two famous and expensive hotels: Fairmont and Mark Hopkins.
‘Nob’ is a scornful British abbreviation of the words noble/nobility referring to the upper classes. The neighborhood is also derisory termed the “Snob Hill”.
10 Lombard Street
The bizarre Lombard Street is considered almost the closest street in America, and you really need to see it, but especially to take a car ride on it.
The famous part is located between Jones Street and Hyde Street, an exact address to reach it is: Lombard Street 1070, San Francisco, California 94109.
11 Cable Cars
Cable Cars are a symbol of San Francisco and are part of the urban transport network operated by the Municipal Railways.
The historic trams run on 3 lines: California St. line: 1878; Powell-Mason line: 1888; Powell-Hyde line: 1957.
We went on line 1888, from Fichersman’s Wharf station to Market Street, then we walked on the streets of the financial district.
You can see below how the cable car line is change
12 Union Square
Union Square is the financial, shopping, theater and art center of the city, along with many skyscrapers.
Transamerica Pyramid is also located in the area. The building on Montgomery Street, 600, is 260 meters high and has 48 floors.
13 Castro-Noe Valley
The colorful Castro district (Eureka Valley) is the cultural center of the LGBT community in San Francisco. Nearby Noe Valley is full of restaurants, shops and Victorian houses along the streets.
14 Twin Peeks
Twin Peaks is truly one of the most spectacular attractions in San Francisco! This is the place where the locals prefer to take their guests for a panoramic view of the city.
The two 241-meter-high hills are in a more isolated residential neighborhood, but it’s very easy to reach it, if you have a car. Walk straight on west Market Street, until you are close to the top of the hill (where the name changes to Portola Drive), then turn right on Twin Peaks Boulevard.
A short, sloping road takes you to the top, in the parking, where you can see many of San Francisco’s landmarks: Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Transamerica Pyramid, skyscrapers in the city center and Market Street.
15 Painted Ladies
Painted Ladies are Victorian and Edwardian houses painted in three or more colors to showcase their architectural details. About 48,000 such homes were built in San Francisco between 1849 and 1915.
There is, however, a place that has become famous because you can surprise in one frame the eclectic architecture of the city. In the Alamo Park area are 7 Victorian houses built on Steiner 710-720, and behind them rises the skyscrapers from Union Square.
Address: Steiner Street 710-720, opposite Alamo Square near Haight Ashbury.
After exploring this city for three days, by car, on foot, by cable car, with uber or boat, my favorite place in San Francisco was the Pacific Heights neighborhood.
Here I could admire some of the most beautiful and expensive houses in San Francisco, many of them having ocean views.
San Francisco is charming, beautiful, eclectic.