Explore the hills of San Francisco, one of the most popular destinations in the US. The "City by the Bay" is steeped in history and has an endless array of things to do.
Hop on an iconic San Francisco cable car. British promoter Andrew Hallidie and engineer William Eppelsheimer designed and started the city’s cable car system in 1873. Of the 23 lines established between 1873 and 1890, only 3 routes remain, 2 of which stretch from downtown near Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf, and a third that runs along California Street.
One of the 44 hills in San Francisco, the Russian Hill neighborhood is most famous for being home to what's been called <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/video/is-lombard-st-the-crookedest">"the crookedest street in the world,"</a> Lombard Street. This picturesque street was designed with a series of switchbacks to help vehicles make it down the extremely steep hill. We definitely recommend taking a drive down the perfectly manicured street, but look out for the hordes of tourists snapping photos at the bottom.
Perhaps best known for being the setting of the <i>Full House</i> opening sequence, Alamo Square Park offers spectacular views of the city, perfect for a picnic of your own. But the best view is along the east side of the park, where the famous <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/daily-escape/the-painted-ladies">Painted Ladies</a> sit along Steiner Street. Sometimes called “Postcard Row” for obvious reasons, the houses were built between 1892 and 1896 by developer Matthew Kavanaugh, who lived next door to the row houses, in the mansion at 722 Steiner Street.
The Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood is home to Pier 39, the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, the Cannery Shopping Center and Ghirardelli Square, as well as several museums and famous restaurants.
Get out of the city and head north to take a 3-hour ride on the <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/video/napa-valley-wine-train">Napa Valley Wine Train</a> through stunning vineyards, while indulging in elegant food and, of course, tasting local wines. The vintage train has been running since 1989 on a rail line first established in 1864 by San Francisco’s first millionaire. A ride on this train is the epitome of luxury.
Stop by Pier 39 for a ride on the carousel, as well as for a visit to the Aquarium of the Bay, a meal at the floating Forbes Island restaurant and a glimpse of the sea lions that hang out on the docks.
At the Aquarium of the Bay, stroll through 300 feet of tunnels to see over 20,000 marine animals from San Francisco Bay and its surrounding waters. The aquarium also has fun activities for kids, touch pools with sharks and an interactive Bay Lab station.
Take a short road trip to see the Cliff House, located at San Francisco’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area -- the largest urban park west of the Mississippi River. Learn about the house’s rich history, dating back to 1863. Looking for a bite to eat? The Sutro Wing houses a 2-story dining room with a view overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Once a collection of isolated farms and acres of sand dunes in the 1800s, the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco maintains its bohemian vibe, which started when the neighborhood was the epicenter of the hippie movement in the 1960s.
Locals and tourists alike enjoy a 1.7-mile stroll or bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge for breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay. The city celebrated the famous bridge’s 75th anniversary in 2012.
Originally the site of a chocolate factory, Ghirardelli Square is now a large retail and restaurant complex. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is considered the first adaptive reuse project in the country. We recommend tourists stop here for a tasty ice cream sundae or to sample some delicious Ghirardelli chocolate. Simply follow the intoxicating smell of chocolate wafting through the air.
Add a little culture to your San Fran trip. Stop by the Precita Eyes Muralists Association, one of only 3 community mural centers in the US. Established in 1977 in San Francisco’s Mission District, the multipurpose community-based organization sponsors and organizes ongoing mural projects throughout the Bay Area and internationally. Weekly art classes are also offered for children, ranging in age from 18 months to 19 years old.
Explore Chinatown and enter the gateway, located on Grant Avenue at Bush Street. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese community outside of Asia. Seen here, the Dragon Gateway -- installed in 1969 -- is a gift from the Republic of China.
Nob Hill is one of San Francisco’s signature neighborhoods, renowned for its swanky character, city landmarks and famous hotels that border Huntington Park. Some popular places to visit when you’re in the hood include Flood Mansion, the Cable Car Museum, Lumiere Theatre, Bigfoot Lodge, You Say Tomato and the Big 4 Restaurant.
Take the steep walk or drive up to the 210-foot-high Coit Tower for the best views of San Francisco. Located in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood, the Art Deco tower was designed to resemble a fire hose nozzle in tribute to local volunteer firefighter Lillian Coit’s affinity for the San Francisco firefighters of her youth. Architects Arthur Brown Jr. and Henry Howard designed the tower, while 27 on-site artists and numerous assistants created the beautiful murals.
Alcatraz Island was once home to some of America's most notorious criminals. Al "Scarface" Capone, the "Birdman" Robert Stroud and James "Whitey" Bulger all served time at Alcatraz during the 29 years that the federal prison was in operation.
The San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts was constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, but rebuilt in 1965 along with the renovation of the lagoon and walkways. It remains a popular attraction for tourists and locals, as well as a popular location for weddings. It has become such an iconic structure that a miniature replica was built in Disney’s California Adventure Park in Anaheim, CA.
Located in the heart of Golden Gate Park, the Japanese Tea Garden was developed for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition. Unwind and experience the garden’s natural beauty and tranquil atmosphere. This popular San Francisco attraction features classic elements such as pagodas, stone lanterns, stepping-stone paths, native Japanese plants, koi ponds, a Zen garden and the Temple Gate (pictured).