2013 Tourist Information for San Francisco

Positioned along a bay on the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco is the 14th largest city in the United States with over 8.3 million residents. This booming metropolis has plenty to offer, including thriving business, distinctive culture and ample recreational opportunities. All this makes San Francisco one of the most alluring skylines on the entire West Coast.

While people from all walks of life call San Francisco home, the city also welcomes countless tourists each year. Fortunately, San Francisco is well developed for tourism, giving guests a full range of choices for everything they need for a perfect getaway.

Historic Neighborhoods

As one of the largest cities on the West Coast, San Francisco has a colorful history. Although much of the city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1906, there are still many areas that are recognized by tourists. San Francisco is broken down into distinct neighborhoods. In total, there are more than 40 such sections throughout the city. Each neighborhood has its own ambiance, often reflecting a different piece of San Francisco’s eclectic history. For example, many people enjoy visiting the Mission District. This neighborhood is the oldest in the city with a history that can be traced back to 1776. Because of this, the Mission District has strong Mexican ties, and many guests enjoy visiting Mission Dolores, where the earliest Mexican residents of the city are buried.

Another unique neighborhood is Japantown, which is also known as Fillmore. This area was established in 1906 and is home to nearly 12,000 people with Japanese ancestry, making Japantown one of the most vibrant Japanese communities in the United States. Interestingly, Japantown also has a soulful connection, and every summer guests visit the neighborhood to attend the Fillmore Jazz Festival, which is an open-air celebration of jazz music.

One of the most recognized neighborhoods is Haight-Ashbury. Haight-Ashbury is perhaps best known for its iconic Painted Lady Victorian homes. These historic homes are still well maintained, attracting visitors looking for a quintessential San Francisco experience. This neighborhood was one of the few to survive the earthquake in 1906 with relatively little damage. However, Haight-Ashbury has not been without its share of drama. In the 1960s, this neighborhood was the center of the Summer of Love, attracting hippies from around the country. Since that time, the area has been significantly renovated and now Haight-Ashbury is thriving with independent music shops and art galleries.

Recreational Activities

San Francisco is not just popular for its history. To the contrary, people love visiting San Francisco for all the things to do. To start, San Francisco has some of the best parks in the world. In particular, Golden Gate Park is a must to visit. With over 1000 acres, this sprawling park was established in the late 1800s. The vast grounds have something for everyone, including a Japanese tea garden, museums, lakes, wooded areas and more. Of particular interest is the Conservatory of Flowers, which houses over 1,700 plant species. There are also iconic windmills, sports complexes and even a bison paddock.

In addition to other parks throughout the city, San Francisco is also well developed for biking. There are over 200 miles of bike paths in San Francisco, including several that offer impressive views of the bay. In fact, the city is planning to start a bike sharing program downtown to promote the use of bikes throughout the area. San Francisco also offers plenty of options for water sports, including boating, sailing and windsurfing.

For those who enjoy watching more than doing, San Francisco also has several professional sports teams. In the fall, the San Francisco 49ers are a popular draw, and during the summer months, many guests like to catch a game with the San Francisco Giants.

Cultural Attractions

SF is often noted for its vibrant culture. There are countless options for museums throughout the city, ensuring that everyone can find a cultural attraction that suits their interests. One of the most visited attractions is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. This museum features 20th century art, including an impressive selection of works by artists like Andy Warhol, Ansel Adams, Henri Matisse and Jackson Pollack.

The California Academy of Sciences is another popular option. Located in Golden Gate Park, this museum provides an impressive look at natural history. The museum was rebuilt in 2008, and now features numerous exhibits. The grounds are divided into three major sections, including a planetarium, an indoor rainforest and an aquarium. While visiting, guests can see unusual habitats and rare animals, making the California Academy of Sciences a great choice for the whole family.

Other museums in the city include The Palace of the Legion of Honor, the Asian Art Museum and the Cable Car Museum. There are also two historical ships that now serve as museums in the bay, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien and the USS Pampanito.


It is not just culture that draws people to San Francisco. The city also offers diverse shopping options for those in need of a little retail therapy. Many tourists like to start in areas like Pier 39 or Fisherman’s Wharf. Both of these areas are designed for tourists with numerous shops featuring trinkets and other novelty items. However, for a bit more refinement, many people try Union Square. Located in the Financial District, Union Square is home to a number of high end stores and boutiques. There are six major department stores there, and numerous upscale brands have boutiques in Union Square. Some of the stores include Macy’s, Prada, Apple and more.

Other Attractions

No trip to SF is complete without taking in a few of the classic sights. In particular, the Golden Gate Bridge is simply a must during any trip to San Francisco. While crossing the bridge by car may be time consuming, some people opt to walk or bike its length for a more distinctive experience. If crossing is unnecessary, there are still several iconic lookout points to take in the spectacle, including South Vista Point and Fort Point.

Another must-visit is Alcatraz Island. This famous island has an unusual history. Located just off the coast in the bay, Alcatraz was developed as a prison and once housed some of the most notorious criminals in American history. When operating costs became too much, it was closed and eventually turned into national park. Now, guests can take a ferry to visit Alcatraz and go on a tour of the facility.

Other famous sights include Coit Tower, Chinatown, the Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf. Many people also try to take at least one cable car ride during their stay in San Francisco.


With so much going on, it is no wonder that San Francisco has a wide range of dining options. The city has over 200 restaurants with menus featuring every style of food imaginable. This range includes casual eateries and upscale dining rooms with everything in between. Many local restaurants are proud to feature fresh food and local ingredients, often with seafood plucked right from the bay.

For pizza, guests can consider Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. For Italian, the landmark John’s Grill is a good choice. Hearty burgers are available at Super Duper Burgers, and sushi fans will love Ichi. La Taqueria is good for Mexican, and for classic seafood, be sure to try the Swan Oyster Depot.

If all this eating makes guests thirsty, there are fortunately many options for wine and spirits in San Francisco. With Napa Valley nearby, there are numerous wineries and microbreweries open to the public. One option is Anchor Brewing, which has been making beer since 1896. Although tours must be booked in advance, many guests find it well worth the effort. For the refinement of wine, Treasure Island Wines is a good choice. This winery is open for public and private tastings, and it is among the best urban wineries in California.

Hotels and Lodging

In a city like San Francisco, the idea of sleep may seem like a secondary concern. However, San Francisco does have numerous choices for hotels and lodging. This includes a wide selection of high end hotels. For travelers on a budget, there are affordable options as well. San Francisco also has an ample selection of bed and breakfasts. Lodging facilities include new developments and historical buildings. This ensures that guests can find accommodations in any part of the city and at any price point.

SF = San Francisco