San Francisco is not only one of the most popular travel destinations along the east coast; it is one of the most visited destinations in the entire United States. With its consistently fine weather, beautiful sites, and stunning beaches, it is no wonder people from all over the world visit San Francisco every year.
The multi-cultural destination has attractions everyone has heard of, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as lesser-known ones, such as various parks.
To make sure you see all the important places, keep this list of top San Francisco attractions in mind.
The Golden Gate Bridge is probably the best known San Francisco attraction and it is more than just a gorgeous place to take a photo. The bridge has over 10 million visitors annually and connects San Francisco with the northern counties of California.
Some of the bridge's towers extend 746 feet tall. You can choose to simply drive your car across the bridge, walk across it, or even go on a guided tour. When visiting, be sure to head to the Bridge Pavilion for historical information and souvenirs as well as the chance to view the original "test tower." There is also a Bridge Cafe so you can get a quick bite to eat during your visit.
Address: Lincoln Boulevard, near Doyle Drive and Fort Point, San Francisco, CA 94129
Fisherman's Wharf is one of the sites in San Francisco with a great deal of history and culture. It began as Meigg's Wharf, which was city's principal port of entry, where food as well as immigrants arrived. Today, this is the best area in the city to get fresh seafood, whether you want to prepare it yourself or eat at a restaurant.
You can walk among the historic piers, talk to local fisherman, or even take a cruise that shows you the waterfront. There are also numerous city tours that leave from the wharf, making it easy to fit into your trip.
Address: Jefferson Street, Between Hyde and Powell Streets, San Francisco, CA 94133
Alcatraz Island may be well-known for the Alcatraz prison, but it offers more than that. It was also the location of the very first US built fort and lighthouse along the West Coast and where Indians from All Tribes occupied for 18 months to save their tribes.
Visitors can see these historic sites, go on a tour of the prison, or simply enjoy the park itself, which is filled with bird colonies, tide pools, and gardens. Keep in mind that if you want to visit the island grounds and prison, you will need to make a reservation.
Address: Bay Street and Embarcadero, Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing, San Francisco, CA 94133
The cable cars of San Francisco may not be a specific location, but they certainly an iconic part of the city. You can ride along one of three lines, the California Line, the Powell-Mason Line, and the Powell-Hyde Line and this is actually a great way to get around the city and travel between attractions.
Most visitors ride the cable cars as a unique experience as San Francisco is one of the few cities in the country to have this form of public transportation. You can also head to the Cable Car Museum, which is within a quick walk of any of the three lines.
Address: Powell-Hyde Cable Car, San Francisco, CA 94109
The 13 million annual visitors to Golden Gate Park agree that it is one of the top San Francisco attractions. The park covers 1,017 acres with picnic groves, monuments, trails, lakes, playgrounds, and gardens.
There are also occasional events at the park, so check its calendar before planning your visit. You can even take a segway tour of the park or visit one of the many attractions within the park: De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park Aquarium, Japanese Tea Garden, Strawberry Hill, and more.
Address: 501 Stanyan St, San Francisco, CA 94117
San Francisco's Chinatown is famous for being the oldest Chinatown within North America and the largest one outside of Asia. Whether you choose to simply walk down the streets of Chinatown or get a bite to eat at one of the authentic Chinese restaurants, this area is worth a visit.
While there, be sure to visit the Bank of Canton, which was restored in 1960 and the Sing Chong Building, which was among the first to be rebuilt following the 1906 earthquake. You can also go shopping at various herbal shops or visit the beautifully decorated Bank of America building.
Address: Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94108
San Francisco streets are known for being incredible steep, but Lombard Street takes this a step further as the most crooked street within the city. Driving along the street will show you what it truly means for a road to zig-zag, and along the way you will see some of the most expensive and gorgeous homes in San Francisco.
The street is crooked as a safety measure to combat its steepness and it is the perfect spot for scenic photos.
Address: Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94133
The Exploratorium is a science museum, human perception, and art museum that encourages visitors to ask questions and explore their curiosity. It is great for all ages and features specific programs and events for children as well as adults.
You will find the museum at Pier 15, where there are hundreds of different exhibits, both inside and outside. Just some of the galleries include Living Systems, Tinkering, and Human Phenomena.
Address: Pier 15, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111
The California Academy of Science is a large building with numerous exhibits and smaller areas, such as the Morrison Planetarium, Kimball Natural History Museum, Steinhart Aquarium, and Osher Rainforest.
The aquarium alone houses almost 40,000 live animals or you can spend some time at one of the hands-on exhibits, such as the Discovery Tidepool, Naturalist Center, or Early Explorers Cove, the last of which is perfect for children. There are even special night events for adults, complete with cocktails.
Address: 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118
Twin Peaks is commonly considered the best attraction in San Francisco for those looking to get the perfect view of the city. The area measures 922 feet tall and most visitors will focus on getting views from the north peak, which gives you the entire Bay Area with 180-degree views. In addition to the view, there is also a 64-acre park with grassland, coastal scrub, strong winds, native plants, and the endangered Mission Blue Butterfly.
Address: 501 Twin Peaks Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94114