San Francisco

Last Updated: 7th Jun 2012

golden gate san francisco guys

by – Jordan Allen, Tour Manager, North America

Welcome to the West’s most ‘Eastern’ city. San Francisco, USA is a city that sprung up overnight following the discovery of gold, a city that has rebuilt itself in the wake of devastating earthquakes, and a city that prides itself on its cultural and ethnic diversity.

There is never a shortage of things to do in San Francisco. Live music, architecture, shopping, sightseeing, sports, and food are all part of the city’s endless supply of activities. The number one attraction is the world’s most famous prison: Alcatraz!

San Francisco’s geography is as unique as the city itself. Surrounded on three sides by water, the term ‘Golden Gate’ refers to the magnificent harbor that flanks the city. The buildings in the city scale more than forty different hills in the city area. Great views can be found at the top of these hills for those who can make it to the top. It was these very hills that provided the inspiration for the nation’s only moving national historic landmarks: the San Francisco Cable Cars!

san francisco cable car

Major Sights

by – Ellen Nowakowski, Tour Manager, USA

San Francisco is home to countless famous attractions that have become icons of the city. This beautiful city set on the San Francisco Bay boasts the famous Golden Gate Bridge, the intriguing Lombard Street (the crookedest street in America), and the historic San Francisco Cable Cars.

In addition, Fisherman’s Wharf and neighborhoods such as Haight Ashbury provide eclectic shopping and dining experiences. Visit the gorgeous Golden Gate Park and don’t miss the Victorian homes known as the Painted Ladies which you will recognize from countless TV shows and movies.

Finally, the celebrity that the locals refer to as the Bushman is a must see attraction. This street performer earns a living by hiding behind a small bush on the street and attempting to frighten passer bys for tip money.

The Golden Gate Bridge

by – Jordan Allen, Tour Manager, North America

The Golden Gate Bridge with its distinct orange color is the greatest icon of the city. Whether you are driving in a car or on a bicycle, this architectural marvel adds to the distinct setting of the Bay. From the north end of the bridge, you can view the bay itself, Alcatraz, Angel Island (sometimes called the Ellis Island of the West), Coit Tower, the Transamerica Pyramid, and all the hills that the city skyline traverse.

Alcatraz

Alcatraz! Famously featured in the the films ‘The Rock’ with Sean Connery and “Escape from Alcatraz” with Clint Eastwood, Alcatraz is a must-see for any first time visitor.

The San Francisco Bay

The sheltered harbor of the ’Frisco Bay is the defining feature of the city. Home to an incredible amount of history and sights, one of the most beautiful, unique and local ways to take it all in is on a sailing cruise on the harbor.

Other things to see and do in San Fran

If you are feeling limber, another fun attraction is Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world.

Those who want to get in touch with their inner flower child make their way down to the Haight-Ashbury district which has hosted San Francisco’s hippie population, both past and present. It all started in the summer of 1967, more popularly known as the summer of love where members of the hippie community congregated in the area with the promise of good music, free love, and socially conscience exchange. Today Haight Street beckons with eclectic cafes, vintage clothing shops, tattoo parlors, and the echo of its free-spirited past.

Food and Drink

Good food is just around the corner in San Francisco. If you consider the mix of Chinese, Japanese, Irish, Italian, Mexican, and American influences you can start to imagine the abundance of good food in the ‘City by the Bay’.

Start at Fisherman’s Wharf for dungeness crab and clam chowder, head to North Beach for pizza and pasta, or sample some delicious meals in Chinatown. If you are staying in San Francisco for an extra couple of days, why not head north to the Napa and Sonoma Valleys? They are the heart of California’s wine producing region.

Contiki offers Dinner in Chinatown as an Optional Excursion on tours visiting San Francisco.

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