Take the 30 Bus then the 29 Bus to the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of hanging around with all the tourist, head straight down to the pier (can't miss it!). You will get a great view of the bridge and brilliant aspect of Alcatraz! There's also a cafe down there and it's not too crowded.
There are plenty of oportunists trying to make an 'easy' buck in the streets of San Francisco.
Some are entertaining others might scare the hell out of you.
Some paint themselves in gold or silver.
Some act like robots.
Some jump out from behind a bush (the bush man).
Some pretend like they are desperate and that they need money to get home (I saw different people using the same sign in the same place on different days).
Paying them encourages them to stay and to continue their trade.
Unique Suggestions: Don't feel like you are obliged to pay them as you are not.
(1) Underwater World Aquarium at Pier 39, overpriced! (2) Most sit-down restaurants at Pier 39, overpriced! (except for the Eagle Cafe which has superb breakfasts and generous portions); at Pier 39, stick to Boudins Bakery; Blue Chip Cookies; and the other fast food joints.
Here's a pizza coupon (hopefully this website still has them). North Beach Pizza is the City's best:
Unique Suggestions: Miscellaneous Facts:
- on the Golden Gate Bridge, each section of cable is made of precisely 27,572 individual wires that together stretch more than 80,000 miles
- there's an hourlong Blue and Gold Fleet Bay Cruise, leaves regularly from Pier 41 (next door to Pier 39) from 10 a.m. to late afternoon (time varies during the week.) $20 at ticket counter; $15 if booked online at www.blueandgoldfleet. com/bcruisesc.html.
- the Presidio is barely a century old - it was all sand dunes before that
- the Golden Gate was named by John C. Fremont
- "Tiburon" is Spanish for "shark"
- "Alcatraz" is Spanish for "pelican"
- Rudyard Kipling once described San Francisco as "a mad city inhabited for the most part by perfectly insane people"
- the smell of Pier 39's resident population of 700 barking, jostling sea lions, combined with the cloying aroma of baking waffle cones, is a remarkably potent appetite suppressant
- the parking rates around Pier 39 are sky high, walk & take public transportation everyweher you go in the City
If you see a really cheap ticket round trip to San Francisco in May or June there's a reason for that, it can be the coldest time of year due to the unrelenting fog. There are many days you wouldn't even know we were surrounded by water and that huge red bridge were so famous for. I can't tell you how many tourists are spotted in shorts and a t-shirt walking accross the Golden Gate freezing their you-know-what's and cursing their travel agent.
Alcatraz is not fun, it's boring and actually quite morbid unless you enjoy old, dirty jail cells. Save the $10 per person and use it to take a cruise around the bay at Sunset.
..where you won't encounter many San Franciscans.
You might enjoy these places, a lot of people do, but think twice about spending any money and think three or four times before going to a restaurant. You will find better food at better prices in any neighborhood restaurant.
Grant Avenue in Chinatown
Powell Street Between Market and Geary
The Art Galleries on Geary West of Union Square
Broadway Between Columbus and Montgomery
Pier 39 and Ghiradelli square are considered some of S.F.'s most notorious tourist traps. However, done properly you can still have fun there. First of all Pier 39 has a great view of Alcatraz (it's also where you catch the boat to tour it), plus it's a total hot spot for the stinky but cute California sea lions who litter the docks. There is also a candy store at the very end of the dock which has the best fudge and chocolate covered stawberries around. From Pier 39 walk west to Ghiradelli Square. When touring this area of the city you always want to end up at Ghiradelli Square for one simple reason: The Sharper Image Store. The Sharper Image Store, with it's big plush massage chairs, is the only place in town to get a free massage and after a long walk on the pier you'll thank me for this tip. Ghiradelli square also sports a beautiful mermaid fountain and some of the world's best chocolate. So you see, these tourist traps are worth visiting, just don't spend too much time there.
Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf - These two areas feature shops that sell cheap knick-knacks that you probably can't anywhere else in the city. These shops are geared to sell stuff for tourists. You can go to both places in a day to grab souvenirs for relatives back home. Otherwise, go to other areas of SF (i.e. Haight-Ashbury and North Beach) to get a better feel of the city. If you are heading to Alcatraz, the ferry is located in Fisherman's Wharf.
#1 - Pier 39. I can't even tell you how many visitors I've taken to Pier 39... The lazy sea lions are the most interesting--otherwise, SKIP it! Same goes for Ghiradelli Sq.
#2 - Cable Cars. You can always hop on the cable cars at different locations (other than Powell Street). Look into that, instead of wasting time.
Powell St, China Towne, Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39, great shops to browse, don't plan on buying anything of significant value, these shops change mgmt, come and go, you can forget good customer service if something goes wrong...
They are only tourist traps in terms of popularity. There are no overrated sites or places that are a waste of time in Tony Bennett's city where he '...left my heart in SF.' Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, Lombard St., Howe St./Taylor St.,California Cable Car routes, Fisherman's Wharf, Union Square for shopping junkets.
Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf.
If you like homogenized mall-like environments, then knock yourself out. The city is too diverse to waste time playing tourist with the shopping masses. With the exception of catching a ferry nearby, the place isn't worth visiting.
Yes, I am a geek. I am not ashamed to admit this fact. One of the things that I wanted to see during my trip to San Francisco was the street named after Jack Kerouac.
Lombard Street is touristy, you'll find it's very busy. More importantly, skip Fisherman's Warf & Pier 39.