Travel to the San Francisco Bay Region
San Francisco Neighborhoods
Things to Do - Tours
For those of us with a little imagination and an interest in history, Alcatraz is an island shrouded
in mystery and intrigue. Board an Alcatraz Cruises ferry and embark on a journey to discover the real
Alcatraz Island. Upon coming ashore, you'll see an island filled with flowers and birds. You may walk
the island at your own pace, leisurely viewing buildings as you please. The 45-minute audio tour of the
prison will supplement what you've heard about Alcatraz and correct any fabricated stories you may have heard.
The stark contrast between a dilapidated prison and nature's beauty provides for an astonishing and unique experience.
"…that climb halfway to the stars." There are three main lines that run through San Francisco, and riders may
purchase either one-way tickets or day passes. Be sure to visit the Cable Car Museum
The cable car operators could be referred to as San Francisco's ambassadors, as they are often happy to provide verbal directions
to their passengers.
Insider's Tip: A 3-day metro pass, which includes access to the Cable Car system, will easily pay for itself. One- and seven-day passes
are also available.
Guided Walking Tours
Free guided City Walking Tours are available through the Library. Locals will take you around on history, architectural,
legend and lore tours, lasting one and a half to two hours. Check the web site for the tour schedule or pick one up at the
San Francisco Public Library or the San Francisco Visitors Center in Hallidie Plaza (Powell at Market).
San Francisco Fire Engine Tours and Adventures
Riding the Big Red Shiny Mack Fire Engine, you'll depart from the Cannery at Fisherman's Wharf. This 75-minute
tour will take you through the Presidio, to Fort Point at the base of the GG Bridge, and over the Bridge.
Then you'll drive through Sausalito, a beautiful little village with fabulous views of San Francisco. Traveling
through the pretty streets of Union Street, you'll return to the Cannery.
These "painted ladies" grace the streets of Pacific Heights, San Francisco's most prestigious neighborhood.
Begin your tour at Jackson Street near the northwest corner of Alta Plaza Park. The apex of the tour is at the
Broadway bluff between Webster and Lyon Streets.
Things to Do - City Sights
Cable Car Museum
Now this is really awesome. In this working powerhouse, get a first hand look at how the cable car system has
worked in San Francisco for the past 125 years. Cables for all three lines run through the Cable Car Museum on
Mason & Washington. (An easy walk downhill from the Fairmont Hotel.) Visitors may observe the sheaves and cables
running the cars either from above on the main floor of the museum or through windows below ground. Cable Car
souvenirs of all sorts, from jewelry to brass bells, may be purchased in the museum's gift shop. Authentic vintage
San Francisco street signs are also available. (The shop no longer sells cable car passes.) The museum is open free
to the public.
Dedicated to the City in 1933, the observation deck of this monument offers amazing views of San Francisco. It is located on Telegraph Hill.
One of San Francisco's most popular destinations, this entertaining walk takes you past mounds of fresh seafood choices.
Many of the dishes available at these restaurants have been passed down through generations of native Italians and San
Franciscans. Adjacent to Pier 39.
Fort Point National Historical Site
This landmark has been seen in many movies including, "Vertigo" (1958), "Point Blank" (1967), "Foul Play" (1978), "The Presidio" (1988),
and "Bicentennial Man" (1999). In real life, it began existence in 1861 to protect San Francisco Bay and was used again for that
purpose during WWII. Between 1933 and 1937, the fort was used as the base of operations during the construction of the Golden Gate
Bridge. Take a tour and you'll experience the life of a soldier, both in the fort and at the cannon bases. A great place for kids
and adults to let off some steam. Make a reservation to take part in the pier crabbing or a canon-loading demonstration. Or
sign up for the candle light tour. Located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge.
This popular destination offers shopping, waterfront dining, galleries and visitor information. Historic walking tours
take place on weekends during the summer months when docents dress up in Victorian garb and pass out samples of Ghirardelli
chocolate. It's a short walk (uphill!) from Fisherman's Wharf and the cable car stop. Be sure to indulge in the famous
Ghirardelli Hot Fudge Sundae!
Golden Gate Bridge
You can walk, bike or drive over the bridge. A toll is collected on the southbound lane for motor vehicles.
You can purchase souvenirs at the Gift Center, which is located on the southeast side of the Golden Gate Bridge
Toll Plaza. There are two great photo ops. The first is just before heading over the bridge northbound. (It comes
up very quickly, and the parking lot is just off to the left.) The second is on the north side of the bridge immediately
after crossing over. Turn left at the second exit (Alexander Avenue). While it appears on the map that this is a major
highway, the route across the bridge is actually heavily congested. It's well worth the effort, but be prepared.
This street gets its claim to fame for being the 'world's crookedest street' with its nine hairpin turns.
It's a street lined with lovely homes, landscaped with beautiful flowers, and alive with tourists. The best
photo ops are from the bottom, at Leavenworth Street, looking up.
Street performers, cable cars, sea lions, shopping, dining, a magic carpet ride, a carousel, and The Great
San Francisco Adventure playing on a giant screen. So much to do! Adjacent to Fisherman's Wharf.
In 1776, the Presidio was established by the Spanish and taken over by Americans in 1846. In 1989 the Army
closed the base and the National Park Service opened it to visitors in 1994. One of the most famous movies
filmed at the Presidio was, "The Presidio" (1988). Stroll around the grounds and through many of the buildings.
Next, head over to Union Street and get some of the best coffee in the City. Walk among these gingerbread
Victorians turned art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants.
Things to Do - Park & Rec Areas
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
This park encompasses 74,000 acres of land and 1,250 historic structures, the largest urban park in the world.
It's actually about 2 ½ times the size of San Francisco! With sweeping vistas of San Francisco Bay and miles of
trails, there's so much to explore in the park. You'll find listed a few of the highlights.
Golden Gate Park (Part of the GG National Recreation Area)
This section of the park encompasses over 1,000 acres. In the southeast corner of the park, ride the 1912 Herschell-Spillman
carousel. There's also horseback riding, paddle boating and a 9-hole golf course.
Things to Do - Performances
Golden Gate Park Band Concerts
Sundays at 1:00 pm, April through October
Things to Do - Museums
California Academy of Sciences
Explore the stars in the planetarium or the underwater world in the aquarium. Experience an earthquake
at the Natural History Museum. Programs for families.
Explore the human body; play with the stuff that makes dough stretchy; and build a zoetrope, spectroscope, telescope or solar system.
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
This shipyard floats six impressive historic vessels including the 1886 square rigger Balclutha which
measures 300 feet in length. Over 100 small crafts are on view including The Mermaid, the one-man sailboat
that carried a solo voyager across the Pacific from Japan in 94 days.
Wells Fargo History Museum
Hop aboard the stagecoach and get a glimpse of gold nuggets, working telegraphs and mining tools.
Find out how the bank dealt with Black Bart and other stagecoach robbers.
Things to Do - Retailers
Basic Brown Bear Factory
This is a real working teddy bear factory where you can tour and make your own bear. Located in the Cannery.
On Your Way Home
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Yes, it's a bit out of the way if you are traveling back to Santa Clarita on I-5, but it is well worth the stop.
If you only have an hour, take the Redwood Grove Nature Trail, a 0.8 mile trail. This is a wheelchair (and stroller)
accessible loop walk that begins near the Visitor Center. One of the tallest trees in the park, the Statue of Liberty,
is about 280 feet tall and over 17 feet wide. You'll find it about halfway through the loop.
Tip: For crystal clear photos, you'll need your tripod, but it is well worth the effort!