POINTS OF INTEREST
Sutro Bath Ruins
Hike around Sutro Baths. There are gorgeous views, an amazing story and San Francisco is all about being active and outdoors. (680 Point Lobos Ave.)
Legion of Honor’s
The core of the Legion of Honor’s collection was amassed by Adolph B. and Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, whose particular collecting focus was 18th- and 19th-century French art. Prior to the building’s renovation in 1995, the collection was primarily dedicated to French painting, sculpture, and decorative art. Over the past century, the collection has grown and expanded to encompass over 4,000 years of ancient and European art. Today, the Legion of Honor’s collection contains over 124,000 works of art and is recognized for its European decorative arts, sculpture and painting; and Ancient art from throughout the Mediterranean and the Near East. It also houses the Arts’ exquisite collection of works on paper, one of the largest collections of works on paper in the country.
California Academy of Sciences
In the California Academy of Sciences’ latest original planetarium show, Habitat Earth, viewers will discover what it means to live in today’s connected world, where biological networks intersect with our own increasingly complex environment. Through stunning visualizations, audiences will dive beneath the ocean’s surface to witness the dynamic ecological relationships within kelp forests, burrow beneath the forest floor to see how some of Earth’s tallest trees depend on tiny fungi to survive, and journey to new heights to witness the intricate intersection between human and ecological networks—all from within the world’s largest all digital planetarium dome. www.calacademy.org
Walk Over the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge, the most famous bridge in the world, manages to impress even the most experienced travelers with its stunning 1.7-mile span. Approximately 120,000 automobiles drive across it every day. A pedestrian walkway also allows the crossing on foot, and bikes are allowed on the western side. The Golden Gate Bridge is said to be one of the most photographed things on Earth.
Ride a Cable Car
Cable cars have been transporting people around San Francisco since the late 19th century. The cars run on tracks and are moved by an underground cable on three routes. Their familiar bells can be heard ringing from blocks away. Tickets ($7) may be purchased at the cable car turnarounds at the ends of each route. Each one-way ride will provide spectacular views of the city’s celebrated hills as well as exhilarating transportation. Start and end your ride at the Buena Vista Café and enjoy their coffee drinks and other libations.
Visit the Rock
Alcatraz, the notorious former prison, is located on an island of the same name in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Some of the United States’ most notorious criminals were incarcerated there. Though several tried, no inmate ever made a successful escape from “The Rock.” The prison was closed in the 1960’s and stories about Alcatraz are legendary. A visit to Alcatraz today is fascinating. Recorded cell-house tours are available, allowing visitors to learn about the prison as they explore the buildings and grounds. To reach the island, take an Alcatraz Cruises ferry from Pier 33. Advance reservations are recommended, 415-981-ROCK (7625). www.alcatrazcruises.com
See the Sea Lions
Fisherman’s Wharf is also home to PIER 39, a festive waterfront marketplace that is one of the city’s most popular attractions. A community of California sea lions has taken up residence on the floats in the PIER 39 Marina and visitors line the nearby railing to watch their antics. From there it’s a short walk to the San Francisco Dungeon, Madame Tussauds, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and the famous crab vendors selling walk-away crab and shrimp cocktails.
Shop in Union Square
Union Square is the place for serious shoppers. Major department stores and the most exclusive designer boutiques line streets like Post, Sutter, Geary, Grant, Stockton and Powell. The Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre houses the largest Bloomingdale’s outside of New York and the second largest Nordstrom in the U.S.
Explore North Beach
North Beach, the city’s Italian quarter, isn’t a beach at all. It’s a neighborhood of romantic European-style sidewalk cafes, restaurants and shops centered near Washington Square along Columbus and Grant avenues. The beautiful Church of Saints Peter and Paul is a beloved landmark. Coit Tower atop Telegraph Hill offers a splendid vantage point for photos of the bridges and the Bay. Inside the tower, floor-to-ceiling murals painted in the 1930s depict scenes of early San Francisco.
Walk through the Oldest Chinatown
The entrance to Chinatown at Grant Avenue and Bush Street is called the “Dragon’s Gate.” Inside are 24 blocks of hustle and bustle, most of it taking place along Grant Avenue, the oldest street in San Francisco. This city within a city is best explored on foot; exotic shops, renowned restaurants, food markets, temples and small museums comprise its boundaries. Visitors can buy ancient potions from herb shops, relax and enjoy a “dim sum” lunch or witness the making of fortune cookies.