San Francisco is simultaneously romantic, exciting, relaxing and intriguing. Rent a bike, walk, ride the trolley or drive to fascinating destinations. Tour San Francisco Bay by boat for unique views from beneath Golden Gate Bridge. Stop at Alcatraz Island its former inescapable prison became famous in the film Birdman of Alcatraz.
At the bridge’s southern end is the Presidio, a former military base, now a large park with hiking trails, great bridge and shoreline views, Andy Goldsworthy sculptures, Baker Beach, the Walt Disney Family Museum and a life-size Yoda statue.
Entering the Marina District, attend a performance at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. Travel east to the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood for shopping and dining. Enjoy a chocolate sundae at Ghirardelli, a local favorite for over 150 years. Visit the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park to see ships that sailed more than a century ago. Watch sea lions lounging on rafts near Pier 39. Continue on to the Embarcadero District. The Exploratorium at Pier 15 features interactive exhibits intertwining science, art and human perception. See the Giants play football at AT&T Park in South Beach.
Inland, shop at Union Square, drive down the very crooked Lombard Street and photograph the Painted Ladies Victorian row houses. Stand at the Haight-Ashbury corner, in the neighborhood where hippie counterculture developed in the 1960s.
Enter the Golden Gate Park to visit de Young Museum, filled with art, costumes and textiles. Explore botanical gardens, play golf or tennis, photograph the Japanese Tea Garden and wade in the Pacific Ocean.
Travel north to tall redwoods in Muir Woods, wineries in Napa and Sonoma and quaint shops in Sausalito. On a foggy day, stand atop Vista Point in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area at the bridge’s northern end and gaze south across the clouds to see Sutro Tower rising from Twin Peaks, with the rest of the city hidden. When the fog clears, San Francisco’s skyline is a gleaming gem at the end of the golden bridge.