San Francisco is considered one of the prettiest and most unique cities in the United States, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.
Fashionistas, techies, hippies and all other types of residents are proud of its place in history: once a Spanish fort, it zoomed to prominence during the Gold Rush Days and later demonstrated its resiliency after three-quarters of the city was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. Today, it is a towering financial and cultural center that cherishes old traditions while embracing diversity and community.
Built on steep hills, the city is a cluster of eclectic neighborhoods - like the Castro, Pacific Heights, Chinatown, Russian Hill or North Beach (Little Italy) - each with its charm, own attractions, and festivals.
Whether navigating the twists and turns of Lombard Street, shopping in Union Square, or enjoying all that the Fisherman's Wharf and the Marina have to offer, this quirky city will enchant you - and if you're not careful - you could end up leaving your heart in San Francisco (queue that Tony Bennett classic).
Attractions in San Francisco
There are things to do or see almost in almost every corner in San Francisco, but a delightful experience can be had simply by hopping aboard a cable car or wandering the hilly streets before stopping in a pleasant cafe to people-watch.
Golden Gate Bridge, and yes, Alcatraz - There is nothing like being around San Francisco's picturesque bridge, whether you are on a rented bike, strolling on Baker Beach with the view in front of you, or driving on it on your way to Sausalito.
Then, although you won't find locals there, you can head out to the old island prison that housed the likes of Al Capone and the Robert "The Birdman" Stroud. The prisoners are all gone now, but some say ghosts remain. Bring a local along, as it may be their first time too!
Aquarium of the Bay - See sharks, octopus, colorful stars and masses of jellyfish; then head to the hands-on exhibits and pet a Bat Ray - if you dare.
Chinatown - There are actually two Chinatowns in San Francisco if you can believe it. In the Chinatown close to Union Square, visit the Chinese Historical Society, shop for jade or herbal remedies, and even tour the century-old Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. The 'second' Chinatown lies on Clement Street in the Richmond district. Regardless which one you visit, make sure you have an appetite; Chinatown in San Francisco lives up to its rep for traditional and delectable dim sum. Go have dim sum particularly during the weekend, and join many locals in this delicious tradition.
Shopping and Restaurants in San Francisco
Did you get a deal on flights to San Francisco? Good - now splurge on food and fun.
Dining: San Francisco is a banquet, and everything's on the menu: excellent, fresh seafood, fine Italian fare, authentic Chinese, and cuisines from almost everywhere else in the world. Enjoy a romantic dinner in quaint neighborhoods like Russian Hill (take a cable car right to the restaurant door). Oh, and while you're visiting, grab an Irish Coffee - San Francisco introduced it to America.
Shopping: Union Square will impress you with stylish boutiques, famous stores, and unique shops. It is a wonderful place to get antiques and art, flowers and produce or stunning hand-crafted jewelry. Don't forget the chocolate; the name Ghiradelli should ring a delicious bell.
You'll recognize the beautiful Victorian row houses at Alamo Square, as it's one of the most photographed scenes in the city. Take your own souvenir photo of San Francisco here - just drop by Hayes and Steiner Streets.
Flights to San Francisco
Flying to San Francisco is a breeze. Finding cheap flights to San Francisco is so easy, thanks to two convenient airport options:
San Francisco International Airport (SFO): This facility is home base for Virgin America as well as a United hub; SFO serves North America and is a gateway to Asia, Europe, and Australia.
Oakland International Airport (OAK): This is a popular domestic alternative to San Francisco and is a focus city for Southwest.
More Information on San Francisco
What else is there to do in San Francisco? Millions of things - and these sites can tell you all about them:
Only in San Francisco - As this official visitors site puts it, "Cool fog, hot restaurants, neighborhoods to explore, cultures to experience." And they provide the "who, what, where, and when" on how to see and do it all. Numerous attractions and an "insider's guide".
San Francisco Guide -For a simple evening itinerary, grab dinner, hit up a book signing and grab ice cream for dessert.
Bay City Guide - Guide to custom tours, events, and festivals, plus discount coupons.
Popular flights to San Francisco
- From Chicago to San Francisco$80RTGOOD4/3 - 4/9
- From Dallas to San Francisco$115RTGOOD4/16 - 4/23
- From London, United Kingdom to San Francisco$505RTGOOD3/30 - 4/7
- From Tokyo to San Francisco$557RTGOOD4/10 - 4/17
- From Singapore to San Francisco$772RTGOOD3/2 - 3/18
- From Ahmedabad to San Francisco$960RTGOOD4/14 - 4/16