I've lived in S.F. for 30 years. There are so many nice little corners of the city that tourists never see.
It seems the usual tourist destinations are the least interesting parts of the city. If you want to see the
REAL San Francisco neighborhoods, try these. Richmond District (north of Golden Gate Park) take a walk
on Clement Street between 2nd Av & 12th Av. This is a largely Chinese neighborhood. Sunset District
(South of Golden Gate Park) walk around 9th & Irving Street. Noe Valley, 24th Street between Church &
Castro. Drive around Noe Valley to see some great Victorian architecture. Chestnut Street in the Marina
District. Take a walk along the Marina Green at Marina Blvd. It's a flat, easy walk along the water with spectacular views
of the Golden Gate Bridge & hills. These are nice, safe neighborhoods but not fancy. You see few if any tourists
at most of these and will get a taste of the real San Francisco.
San Francisco CityPass includes six attraction admissions and a seven-day MUNI & Cable Car Passport. In Golden Gate Park, see the new de Young Museum, then visit the Legion of Honor for free on the same day; Exploratorium in the Presidio near the Golden Gate Bridge; the California Academy of Sciences & Steinhart Aquarium or Asian Art Museum (ticket 3 gives you a choice); SF Museum of Modern Art in the cultural district; Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure from Pier 41; and the Aquarium of the Bay on Pier 39, with its wealth of restaurants, shops and fun. Bonus tickets make the value even better. Taste San Francisco chocolate and sourdough bread, shop at Bloomingdale’s, tour the baseball stadium, and visit the sea lions at Pier 39.
CityPass ticket booklets blaze a path to San Francisco’s landmarks – on its romantic cable cars -- in a tidy collection of pocket-size tickets. Visit them in any order you please and enjoy the neighborhoods, parks, piers and cultural buffet you’ll encounter along the way.
Unlimited transportation on the San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI) for 7 consecutive days beginning day of first CityPass use. Not including BART; Candlestick Ballpark Express an additional $3 per person. Use is subject to all existing rules, regulations and charges approved by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
CityPasses are available at those attractions above, at the Visitor Information Center at Powell & Market Streets, and at the SFMTA Customer Service Center, 11 South Van Ness Avenue at Market.
Cost is $ 54 for adults and $ 39 for kids!
First you need this online map:
The blue lines represents the 49-Mile Scenic Drive (which is fun to cover by car.) Whether you have a car or not, a lot of your touring of the City will take you along this route.
Let your fingers do the walking, as I give you a desk top tour of SF.
Start at the reddish letters on the map that say 'Visitors Information Center' (on Market Street) --
It is hard to pick highlights, but if I was pressed for time I would pick these ***
Embarcadero (Justin Herman Plaza/Ferry Building***)
Pier 39*** and Fisherman's Wharf***
Aquatic Park*** (nearby Ghirardelli Square**)
Palace of Fine Arts***
Golden Gate Promenade/Crissy Fields
Golden Gate Bridge***
California Palace of Legion of Honor, Museum in Seacliff District
Cliff House*** & Seal Rocks
Here are 2 options -
-Great Highway to the SF Zoo or
-Cut into Golden Gate Park*** (via John F. Kennedy Drive)
In Golden Gate Park there's
Buffalo Paddock (i.e. live buffalo in a pasture)
Stow Lake (duck feeding!)
Strybing Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
Japanese Tea Garden
California Academy of Sciences***
Conservatory of Flowers***
This little exercise was only intended to get you acclimated to the better sites to see. To tour all these sites, you will need to cut it up into different day intineraries. Some things you will have to skip and see on your NEXT visit. :o)
Do you love the sea? Besides the ferry to Alcatraz, there's a ferry boat to the cities of Sausalito and Tiburon, and another ferry boat to Angel Island (which was a former military base, now a park. Go to www.redandwhite.com.
Do you love Redwood Forests? Muir Woods is 12 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, via US 101 & Calif Hwy 1, you reach by car or tour bus. Go to: www.visitmuirwoods.com.
If you have time rent a car and go north. Cross the Golden Gate and discover a whole new world. You got Muir Woods and Mt.Tamalpais in Marin County then go further north (about an hour from the bridge) and get your drink on in the Sonoma Valley Wine Country. It's beautiful, great wine and food and not as crowded as the city. Just make sure you have someone to drive your drunk butt back.
These places are not necessarily in SF, but in the surrounding communities...
#1 NAPA VALLEY - Even if you're not a wine connoiseur, take a 1/2-day trip and visit a winery. The Mondavi Winery is probably the most visited. I wouldn't buy wine at the wineries (ironically, they overcharge!), go to the local supermarkets or liquor marts. If you have the time & desire, take a wine train... relish in the natural hot springs.
#2 HIGHWAY 1 (aka 'Pacific Coast Highway') - stretches all the way down to Southern California, but the most scenic parts are in Northern California. Once you get into Los Angeles or Orange County (SoCal), it becomes disappointing--sometimes you become diverted from the coast and have to deal with stop-n-go traffic--as there are traffic lights!
Stop at one of the many beaches along PCH. It will eventually lead you to Santa Cruz/Monterey.
Muir Woods, Mill Valley, Sausalito, Princeton-by-the-sea, Half Moon Bay, Pacifica, Pedro Point, Carmel, Noe Valley... is there a max space allowance here?