Golden Gate Bridge (And Seven Other Must-Visit San Francisco Sights)
Overlooking the Pacific coast, San Francisco is a Northern Californian gem with plenty of history, culture, fun, and nature to offer. Here’s what you shouldn’t miss on your next visit to San Francisco.
Sightseeing in San Francisco can seem to be never-ending. After all, there are rolling hills, the gorgeous oceanside, and several world-renowned attractions – and that’s only what immediately comes to mind.
No visit can be long enough to cover all of the city’s attractions. From the famed Golden Gate bridge to the idyllic Angel Island, here are the eight sights you mustn’t miss on your next trip to San Francisco.
1. The Golden Gate Bridge
Of all the sights in San Francisco, the iconic orange bridge certainly needs no introduction. And if you haven’t seen it getting destroyed in one of the many disaster movies, you’ve been watching the wrong ones.
Luckily, the Golden Gate is safe and sound, looking over the San Francisco Bay like it has been since 1937. About two miles long, the bridge is open to vehicles, bikers, and pedestrians alike, although you can traverse it without a car only when there’s daylight.
It’s understandably the most photographed site in San Francisco by far. The Golden Gate Bridge even has several well-established vantage points ideal for snapping a photo.
2. Walt Disney Family Museum
Disney has built up a legacy with its beloved cartoons, garnering millions of fans worldwide. And in San Francisco, you can visit the expansive museum that documents Walt Disney’s life.
The Walt Disney Family Museum features plenty of historical items placed throughout the 40,000 square feet of the establishment.
You’ll see the numerous awards Disney won over his prolific career, as well as a miniature replica of the famed Disneyland. Especially worth seeing are the early drawings of some of the most iconic Disney characters.
If you want to see your favorite Disney heroes come to life on the silver screen, there’s a theater inspired by Disney’s Fantasia that has daily showings of the classics.
Tourist attractions are rarely as notorious as Alcatraz Island and the eponymous penitentiary on it. The prison was in operation until 1963 when it closed, only to reopen 10 years later as a historical tourist attraction.
The site tour includes audio recordings of former guards and inmates of the infamous prison, giving you a vivid insight into the life that went on behind the impenetrable walls.
What might be more impressive for some is the fact that the history of the hundreds of people that inhabited the island at one point or another still echoes through the empty cells – perhaps even more loudly than the recordings.
But another kind of inhabitant has settled on Alcatraz Island – ones that sing an altogether different song. They are the seabirds that chose this spot for nesting. They bring a brighter tone to an otherwise sad place.
4. Yerba Buena Gardens
You can find the exceptionally beautiful gardens downtown, where they serve as a decoration to the urban landscape. The gardens are full of theaters, museums, restaurants, and cafes, but the central point of interest is undeniably the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial.
The outdoor events held in Yerba Buena Gardens take place throughout the year and include carousels, ice skating, bowling, and much more. Yerba Buena Gardens count as among the best in the whole country and the reasons for that are quite apparent.
5. Fisherman’s Wharf
Another heavy hitter among San Francisco’s attractions, Fisherman’s Wharf is a tourist area with a unique charm.
It’s home to several amazing museums, but this city section is best-renowned for authentic restaurants and shops. The view of the city further contributes to the area’s beauty.
As if all that wasn’t enough, you can see many restored historic ships at the pier that has become the Maritime National Historical Park.
6. Ocean Beach
With so many sights all over the city, it can be easy to forget that San Francisco actually has a gorgeous beach. Covered in white sand and rarely crowded by visitors, the Ocean Beach is a wonderful, quiet, and peaceful spot in the city, with the only sounds you’ll hear often coming from the water and the birds chirping in the distance.
The beach belongs to the Golden Gate National Park, which means you’ll seldom see traces of human interference with the natural order. That is if you choose to ignore the iconic bridge that’s clearly visible from the location.
7. Cable Cars
It’s another part of San Francisco that’s often seen in movies. After all, the iconic cable cars have traversed the city streets for about 150 years.
But besides bearing historical value, these vehicles still serve as means of public transportation and are the only system of that kind that’s considered a monument of history.
8. Angel Island
With a population of no more than 60 lucky souls, Angel Island is a beautiful feat of nature that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
You can jump on the air tram for a tour as soon as you get on the island from a ferry. Alternatively, you could get coffee and some snacks in one of the excellent bars.
You might also be lucky enough to catch a live music event – or check the schedule in advance if you don’t want to rely on luck.
The City of Beauty
San Francisco undeniably has plenty of wonders, both artificial and natural. That’s why if you’re looking for a place where you won’t get enough of your sightseeing, look no further than the jewel of the Bay. While certain attractions are well-known to everyone around the globe, some hidden gems await those willing to do some more exploring. One thing is certain: One visit to San Francisco will not be enough. Once the beautiful sights leave you in awe, you’ll want to return to see even more.