There is so much to do and see in San Francisco! San Francisco sightseeing is found in abundance. That’s what makes San Francisco such an important and vibrant city. We suggest you take at least one walking tour to see the city up-close-and-personal. Another fantastic trip you can’t miss is to visit Alcatraz Island and see the world-famous prison and grounds. Just the boat ride is fabulous and you’ll get so many great pictures. If the fog is behaving, you can get a wonderful shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. And if it’s not, be sure to take plenty of warm clothes, because it gets really chilly out on the bay when the fog rolls in!
There are cultural events, sports teams, shopping, public parks and beaches, and amusement parks to enjoy.
Don’t forget to walk through the Pier 39 area and browse the shops. You’ll see a crowd watching the sea lions sunning themselves and making a lot of noise. Years ago, Pier 39 tried to get rid of the seal lions because they were smelly and made a big mess on the floating docks. They tried many things to drive them away, but nothing worked. At some point, the Pier 39 management noticed that there was always a crowd looking at the sea lions and taking pictures. So they turned a liability into an asset. Now people come to Pier 39 just to see the sea lions do their thing (sleep, fight and make noise). They’ve turned out to be a big hit, so I guess they’ll be welcome as long as they continue to attract big crowds.
If you like fresh crab and seafood, Fisherman’s Wharf is just a short walk from Pier 39. Stroll up the street and wander through some of the stores. You can get some nice take-away food and see the workers cooking and cleaning the crab. There’s all kinds of things to eat and drink. If you’ve never tried sourdough bread, then you should make a beeline for one of the local restaurants to enjoy some. So spend some time enjoying the local flavors.
After looking around Fisherman’s Wharf, walk up the street about two blocks to watch the cable cars come into the turntable at the end of the line. The cable car conductor will turn the car around and move it back to the pick-up point where you can board the car for a ride. Be sure to get a ticket from the machine. Ask someone if you’re not sure how to buy your ticket.
A walk through Chinatown is fun and interesting. The streets can be a little steep (just a slight incline) and the sounds and smells are so interesting. People live here as well as work in the restaurants and stores, so a stroll through Chinatown is an authentic look at life for many of the people here. There is lots to look at, good shopping and some excellent restaurants to explore.
There is also Japantown to explore, which is located along Geary Blvd. and Laguna St. The food and atmosphere of the Japantown area is really enjoyable. Take some time to visit Japantown while in San Francisco!
A visit to North Beach (also called “Little Italy” by some) is a sensory experience of sights, smells and delicious food. Some of the best restaurants in the city are found here.
San Francisco Sports Teams
San Francisco is the home to the S.F. Giants and the S.F. 49ers. The Giants won the World Series in 2010 and then again in 2012. Congratulations to the World Champions!
San Francisco Giants
There are several ways to get to A T & T Ballpark where the San Francisco Giants play. You can drive, but parking is scarce and very expensive with prices above $25.00 depending on what lot you choose to use. If you do not mind a short walk, then try the lots on Townsend Street, 2nd Street and 3rd street. Many fans find the best choice is to take BART and get off at the Embarcadero station. The ballpark will be a short walk to the south. It is also possible to take the trolley to the ballpark. Other fans prefer to ride the bus to the park. Get on buses running on lines 10, 30, 45 and 47. The trolley will drop you off right in front of A T & T Park. Many fans choose to bike to watch the San Francisco Giants play baseball. The park offers free bike storage that opens two hours before the game and remains opens a half hour after the game is over. The park is one of the few in the world, which is also accessible by ferry. It is also possible to take a taxi to the park, although taxis are a very expensive option, as they will charge you for the time that you are stalled in traffic.
If you are going to watch the game from inside the park, then consider three sections of seats. The reserved box seats offer great views of the game. Visitors to the park can use a special elevator to the second floor, so they can avoid the ballpark crowd. If you are not willing to pay for reserved box seats, then consider sections 137 to 139 for the best chance to catch a home run and sections 101 to 103 for the best chance to catch a foul ball. If you want to see the game for free from the public promenade on the waterfront.
Chances are that you will get hungry while you are at the AT&T Ballpark. The best choices in food are the garlic fries at the booth underneath the center field wall. The best hot dogs come from the bratwurst cart near the third street gate. Make sure to top off the bratwurst with grilled peppers and onions.
San Francisco 49ers
Candlestick Park is home to the San Francisco 49ers. The best way to drive to Candlestick Park from San Francisco International Airport is to follow the 101 North for six and a half miles until you reach the exit to Candlestick Park. This road will lead directly into the parking areas at the stadium. Many drivers prefer to skip this option and continue straight ahead to Third Street. The driver should then turn right on Third Street where drivers will find a large variety of private parking options. The parking area opens four hours before the game. For many people, the best choice is to skip the driving and take the bus to the park. Leave the airport and ride the bus downtown where you can catch a bus straight to the park.
The best seats at Candlestick Park are on the west side of the stadium. If you choose seats on the east side, you will be looking into the sun all day, except for the rare night game. Look for seats about the 50-yard line, but try not to buy the first few rows. The players will block your view of the game. Instead, look for seats in row J, K or L. If you are going to pay for the lower reserved seats, then look for seats in the first six rows. Any seats further back than that and the atmosphere becomes very gloomy.
Fans of the 49ers are anxiously awaiting the completion of their new stadium. It’s being constructed in Santa Clara, which is a few miles south of the current location. It will be a state-of-the-art facility, with shopping, restaurants, a museum, and much more. The stadium is well under way and should be completed in the very near future. The new venue will be a big improvement over their current stadium (Candlestick Park), which is cold, drafty and is very dated. Besides the Giants and 49ers, you can find the following teams playing in the San Francisco Bay Area:
The San Jose Sharks call the HP Pavilion home.
The Cal Bears play in the California Memorial Stadium
The Oakland A’s and the Oakland Raiders call the Oakland Coliseum home
The Golden State Warriors play their games at the Oracle Arena in Oakland
The Stanford Cardinals play their home games at Stanford Stadium
See the map below for these locations.
Bay Area Amusement Parks
Everyone likes to see new and interesting things while on vacation or a business trip. There are a number of amusement parks in the San Francisco Bay Area. However, San Francisco does not have an amusement park in the city limits. You’ll need to take a drive to one of the terrific parks. You can make a day of it and be back to San Francisco for a late-night dinner at one of the many fine restaurants.
San Francisco is home to a variety of activities. One thing it does not have within the city limits is a roller coaster. The parks listed below are 25 to 50 miles from San Francisco. Plan your sightseeing around a trip to one of the parks below!
California’s Great America
The largest amusement park close to San Francisco is California’s Great America. This is the only combination amusement park and water park in the San Francisco Bay area. The park has seven roller coasters with one, the Gold Striker, currently under construction. The park’s most popular ride is the Flight Deck roller coaster. The 2,260 foot coaster has a 91 foot drop. At top speed, the roller coaster reaches 50 miles per hour. Unlimited daily ride passes can be obtained for $27.99. A season pass is $57.99. Click Here to get a map with driving directions.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the oldest amusement park in California. The park contains the fifth oldest roller coaster in the United States. The 2,640 foot long roller coaster has a 65 foot drop. At top speed, the roller coaster reaches 55 miles per hour. The amusement park has several times been awarded the best seaside amusement park in America. During the week, the rides are open from 11 AM to 11 PM. On the weekends, the rides are open from 10 AM to 10 PM. A season pass to the park is $69.95. A daily unlimited ride pass is $29.95. Click here to get a map with driving directions.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is a combination amusement park and animal park located in Vallejo, CA. The park has 45 amusement rides and two water rides. Guests can interact and pet stingrays as well as Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. At the park, many guests are allowed to get closer to South African penguins than they will at any other point in their lives. The season pass is $54.99. Daily passes are available from $57.99 at the gate. Click here to get a map with driving directions.
Gilroy Gardens is one of the most unusual theme parks in the United States. Each ride at the park has a horticultural theme. The park contains two roller coasters. The daily ticket cost is $29.99. Gilroy Gardens is located south of San Francisco in Gilroy, CA. Click here to get a map with driving directions.