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Inspired San Francisco Travel Tips

North Beach Festival

Sixty years ago, a group of friends put together an outdoor festival celebrating poetry, music and dance. Six decades later, the party’s still going strong and you’re invited! If you’re looking for a great summer escape, scribble “North Beach Festival” on your June calendar, and get ready to make some terrific plans in San Francisco. […]

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5 Ways to Tailor Your Perfect Trip to San Francisco

Planning a trip to San Francisco? We’ve partnered with men’s lifestyle and travel expert Joe Miragliotta from Joe’s Daily to help make your vacation in the Bay area one you’ll never forget. A few weeks ago, the wife and I were invited out to San Francisco to experience their celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. […]

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The Best Chinatowns in the US

Chinatown has become a cultural institution in many cities across the country, and it’s easy to see why they’ve evolved into major tourist attractions. The crowded markets, unique architecture, rich heritage, and of course, the food! Endless options for authentic dining that you wouldn’t normally experience anywhere else, and all of it is jam packed […]

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What are the top landmarks in San Francisco?

Don’t miss these must-see sights and attractions


 A Visitor's Guide to San Francisco

Joe Miragliotta Gnational Gnomad

Planning a trip to San Francisco can be a little overwhelming, especially if you’ve never been before. From the 10,000-year history of the Ohlone and Coast Miwok peoples to the 1967 “Summer of Love,” one could easily spend an entire week focusing the city’s rich past. But then you can’t forget the array of galleries, shows, tastes, and activities to be found here either, right?

If you can’t decide where to start, have no fear! Below is a starter list to help you put together an awesome visit to the “City by the Bay”—whether you’re looking for a well-rounded experience or one of a more themed variety.

Tailor Your Stay

For as many different kinds of activities you’ll find in San Francisco, there are probably as many different kinds of hotels. So why not set the tone of your trip from the moment you check in?

   The charming Queen Anne Hotel - if your interest lies in the Victorian-era happenings like the Gold Rush

   The beautiful Palace Hotel - for glamor and luxury

   The funky Hotel Zeppelin - if you’re there to revel in city’s part in rock n’roll history

   The maritime Argonaut Hotel - to be closer to the action on the bay


Enjoy the Cuisine

If you want to properly experience a place, you’re just not doing it right if you aren’t including the food. Even if there isn’t a regional dish to try out, where and what the locals eat is integral to understanding the vibe of the city. San Francisco hosts beloved regional specialties like abalone and Dungeness crabs, as well as Green Goddess dressing, mai tais, and fortune cookies.

   Farallon - for some fantastic seafood, plus an oyster bar and raw bar

   Tommy’s Joynt - if you’re looking for some pretty amazing barbecue outside the American Midwest/South

   Don Pistos - for a delicious Mexican brunch and wallet-friendly unlimited mimosas, sangria, and margaritas (or dinner, of course)

   Aster - to try a romantic dinner that (although a little pricey) tastes as wonderful as it looks

   Tratto - if an Italian happy hour sounds like something you’d be into

   The House - for a beautiful Asian-American dinner

 

Get Around

While you can definitely drive yourself around during your visit to San Francisco, it may be more trouble than it’s worth. Traffic isn’t terrible—at least, not compared to any other city—but the hills can be intimidating, and parking always seems a little sparse and/or expensive. So why not take advantage of those historic streetcars and cable cars? Visitor Passports can be purchased for 1 ($21), 3 ($32), or 7 ($42) consecutive days of use, and will grant you access to their Muni, Muni Metro, and (yes) streetcars and cable cars. There are also options that include admission to points of interest around the city, like the Aquarium of the Bay and the de Young Museum. If you just aren’t into the public transportation scene, the usual rideshare services operate here as well.


Take in the Outdoors

When one thinks about San Francisco, the gorgeous Golden Gate Bridge is typically the first thing that comes to mind. That’s certainly a massive draw for anyone who visits the Bay Area, but the entire region is quite beautiful. Here’s some fantastic spots to visit:  

   The Presidio of San Francisco- From the Ohlone people to the Spanish to the U.S. Army, this National Historic Landmark has been part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area since 1994. With over two dozen trails and overlooks for hiking, paved roads for cycling, and a place for boardsailing and kite surfing, you might find it hard to decide what to do here. They even have a golf course, tennis courts, bowling alley, and athletic fields for those looking to play some sports.

   Yosemite and Wine Country Tours - Let’s not forget how close San Francisco is to wine country and the gorgeous Yosemite National Park. If you happen to be staying in the area for more than a couple of days, you might consider venturing out for a day or two to see the redwoods, taste some wine, or maybe both!

   Sailings and Cruises - Don’t worry—you can also spend some time on the water. Visitors to the area have some pretty spectacular options for how they want to take in the beautiful bay. Dinner and dancing cruises, sunset sailings, and champagne brunch boat tours are just a sample of the choices available.


Don't Forget the History & Art

Last, but absolutely not least, incorporating history and/or art into your visit is a must. San Francisco has so much to offer in these areas that even a themed trip could fill several blocks in the itinerary with them. So go ahead, go crazy!

   Walking tours

   Haight-Ashbury - ’60s rock n’roll/The Summer of Love

   Alcatraz - former Civil War fortification/military prison/infamous penitentiary

   Chinatown - largest Chinese enclave outside of Asia

   Historical LGBT - stomping grounds of civil rights leader Harvey Milk

   Fisherman’s Wharf - full history going back to the Gold Rush

   The Presidio - a deeper view into all that history mentioned above

   Museums

   de Young Museum - American art, textiles, and anthropological pieces, as well as special installations

   California Academy of Sciences - scientific research and education facility

   SFMOMA - nonprofit modern art museum

   Legion of Honor - world-class fine art with a focus on ancient Near East and Mediterranean pieces, along with European decorative arts, sculpture, and paintings

Of course, this is far from everything there is to do in San Francisco. For more information on everything from flights, hotels, activities, and tours, check out Travelocity.com.

Need insider tips on must-see attractions in San Francisco? Check out our San Francisco travel guide!


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