I love being a tourist! Not the kind that walks around mindlessly taking a bazillion photos but the kind that gets ridiculously excited about seeing a places landmarks in real life, learning the history behind it and experiencing it for myself. Those landmarks make a place special.
Last Summer I worked and lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. I made a promise to myself that I would still do and see the touristy things and I ended up working at number 8 on this list. If you are off to San Francisco this summer firstly I am hugely jealous and secondly do not leave without doing some of these things (if not all of them!)
1. Pier 39
Pier 39 is where you will see the sea lions San Francisco is famous for. Ironically, I never got to see them on any of my visits but I am told they usually be there. But Pier 39 is so much more! I’m not sure how to exactly explain it but it’s just this crazy collection of shops and restaurants. There’s outdoor performances every day and it’s always full of hustle and bustle. It’s an experience in itself just visiting Pier 39. Oh and there are some incredible views from it too!
2. Golden Gate Bridge
Chances are when you think of San Francisco, you’ll think of Golden Gate Bridge. It is the most photographed bridge in the world. It’s amazing in real life and at night it’s even more spectacular. You can rent bikes and cycle across it or take a bus tour across it. Be sure to wear plenty of layers though as it can get really windy.
3. Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park is huge, it’s bigger than Central Park in New York. There’s so many different areas including the botanic gardens and the Japanese tea gardens. It’s the perfect place to spend a sunny day in San Francisco. Be aware that the areas like the Japanese tea garden and the botanic garden have an entrance fee.
Visiting Alcatraz was one of the highlights of my whole time in San Francisco. Alcatraz is where all the worlds most serious criminals were held between 1934 to 1963. You’ll take a boat across to the Island and get to explore the prison by yourself while listening to recorded tour information. We even got to experience what solitary confinement was like for one minute. Believe me those sixty seconds were enough for me! The view from the island is amazing. You get to take in the whole of the San Fransico Bay Area in. I can only imagine what seeing these views everyday while improsoned did to the prisoners.
5. Baseball Game
We went to see the SF Giants play a game in the incredible AT&T park. I’d never been to a sporting event before this. From the moment we went to the park everyone was so welcoming which just added to the atmosphere even more. Again the views from here were stunning and we got to see it in both the day and the night.
6. Cable Cars
You can’t visit San Francisco and not take a spin on the cable cars! Invented to help get around better with those huge hills, there’s still 3 cable car routes in use today. I’d advise not going on them when you’ve lots of shopping as they get very crowded.
7. California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences is located in Golden Gate Park. The best part for me was the indoor rainforest, where you had to be careful that no butterflies tried to escape on you. There’s also an albino alligator (yes they do exist) and lots of different fish exhibits to see. Then there are lots of different experiments to try out and see.
8. The Zoo
Ok I may be a little biased as I did work here for the summer but I loved visiting the zoo even on my days off. It’s next to a beach and has so much to see. Make sure to take a map as its so big! Oh and stop by the gift shop on your way out.
9. Go on a bus tour
There really is so much to see in San Francisco. We took a hop-on hop-off bus tour which meant we got to see a lot more stuff than if we just explored by foot. It was also great because like all good tours it told you what to look out for and the history behind it all.
Have you ever been to San Francisco? What are your must see tourist places?