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Top Destinations  ·  Northern California  ·  San Francisco Area

San Francisco Area Vacation Travel Guide to Activities and Recreation

 San Francisco Fun Attractions, Historic Sites, and Neighborhoods
 
Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco.  Shops, restaurants, trinkets, street theatre, Wax Museum and the Aquarium of the Bay.  Sea lions lounge on platforms near Pier 39.  Transit hub for cable cars, street cars and ferries.
 
Coit Tower, San Francisco.  Landmark tower with WPA-era frescos and a fantastic view of the Bay. Very limited parking, especially at sunset. 
 
Union Square, San Francisco. Newly designed city plaza ringed by fancy stores and hotels with a vibrant street scene and weekend art shows or performances.  Many nearby hotels and resaturants with easy cable car access.
 
Chinatown, San Francisco. A large, busy neighborhood with shops, restaurants, parks, tearooms, and temples. Authentic food markets are crowded with local shoppers.
 
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Huge, diverse park runs three miles east to west with roads, trails, pathways and many open spaces. Houses numerous museums, the Japanese Tea Garden, a lake, botanic gardens, an AIDS Memorial Garden, playing fields and other public facilities.
 
Ocean Beach, San Francisco. Stretches along the western edge of the city with easy access and plenty of sand and wind.  Watch surfers, fly a kite but leave the swimming to to the very strong.
 
The Presidio, San Francisco. Once a military garrison, now converting to civilian uses.  Beautiful hiking and viewing from the coastside paths toward the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean.
 
Alamo Square, San Francisco. Hilltop pocket park offers a famous view of Victorian cottages fronting the park.  See map below for location.
 
Nob Hill, San Francisco. Hike up the hills between Union Square and Fisherman's Wharf for a view of the grandest addresses in the city.  The cable car runs to the top and people watching is free.
 
Cable Car Museum, San Francisco. See how they work and learn about the history of these unique trolley cars.
 
Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Bay. Former prison now managed by the National Park Service. Tours leave from Fisherman's Wharf. Reservations recommended.
(415) 705-5555.
 
Muir Woods National Monument. Pristine redwood grove with trails and limited guided tours - across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County. (415) 388-2595.

Muir Beach. Scenic beach in southern Marin County.

Angel Island State Park, access by ferry from Tiburon, San Francisco, Vallejo, Oakland/Alameda. Historic park; once a military post and immigrant processing station. Bunkers and small beach inlets offer good picnic sites and short hikes. Ferry (415) 435-2131.

San Francisco Bay. The largest northern California fishery. Good sailing available. Excellent views of city skylines, especially from the ferries connecting San Francisco with Oakland, Sausalito, Alameda and Vallejo.

Farallon Islands. A haven for sea mammals and the largest colony of nesting sea birds. Protected refuge, boat tours only. Good seasonal whalewatching. (415) 474-3385 Oceanic Society.

Fort Funston Beach, San Francisco. Southernmost of San Francisco's oceanfront beaches; popular with hang gliders.

Sausalito. Shops and dining along Bridgeway with Bay views, steep wooded hills and a houseboat community.

Tiburon. Colorful Main Street overlooks the Bay and Angel Island.

Mill Valley. The picturesque town center is nestled in a deep wooded valley below Mount Tamalpais.

Stinson Beach, Marin County. Very popular, often crowded on weekends. Good for surfing and swimming.

Alameda. The island city has one of the largest collections of Victorian and early 20th century homes in the State.

Benicia. Once the state capital, the town center has many fine old buildings.
 
University of California, Berkeley. Internationally known university, academically and politically. Nicely landscaped campus. Berkeley Art Museum, Lawrence Hall of Science, and the Botanical Garden are notable.
 
Botanical Garden, University of California, Berkeley. Over 30 acres of plants organized by their place of origin.
(510) 643-2755.
 
Lawrence Hall of Science, above the campus on Centennial Dr, University of California, Berkeley. Aims to teach children about science through hands-on exhibits. Extensive view of the Bay Area.
(510) 642-5132.

Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts., Oakland. Innovative museum showcasing California's nature, environment, history, and art.
(510) 238-3401, (510) 238-2200.  


   


 
Wernher Krutein/photovault.com
If climbing the hills becomes too much, jump on one of the cable cars for an open air ride

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