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San Francisco – The West Coast Jewel

Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco – The West Coast Jewel

From its magnificent bayside vistas to the intimate cafes, San Francisco offers a visit par excellence.

Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge may be the city’s two most well known attractions – and well deserving of their reputations – but the city at the lower edge of Northern California offers much more.

Rides on the famed cable cars may not be the fastest way to get around (they never go more than 10 miles per hour), but they are one of the most fun. Up and down the steep hills near Pier 39 and through Union Square, they provide a wonderful glance back at history while seeing the latest sights.

Opera and ballet second to none are here, but the artistic delights don’t stop there. The Legion of Honor and the M.H. de Young museum provide all the fine visual art one could take in during one vacation.

But the city offers young scientists something rare and delightful as well. The Exploratorium inside the Palace of Fine Arts has over 650 interactive and hands-on exhibits. Ranging from tornadoes you can touch to electrical experiments you shouldn’t, kids and adults both will find something of interest here.

The many aquariums and the zoo give everyone a chance to experience the wonders of nature close up and even underneath. The Aquarium of the Bay offers views under the bay of local species, while on top seals offer applause to the penguins.

The San Francisco Zoo remains one of the highlights of a visit. Over 200 species – including rare lemurs and monkeys, snow leopards and white tigers, and other exotic types – populate the 100-acres of exhibits.

Down on Fisherman’s Wharf there’s much more to do than eat shrimp. Ghiradelli Square houses the famous chocolate factory and ice cream shop that continues to pack them in a hundred years after its founding.

Shopping is still one of the most popular reasons for a San Francisco visit. And, justly so. Union Square houses clothing, jewelry and many other kinds of shops that make it fourth in volume in the whole country.

Dining and clubbing has been a treat in San Francisco since before it was even a city. Whether your taste is steak at world-renowned Morton’s or vegetables from the Farmer’s Market, there’s something for everyone. And, of course, down on the pier there’s more fish than even locals or residents can consume.

Spend a couple of hours touring the famed, some would say infamous, Haight Ashbury district. Once home to the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, the area still has tie-dyed T-shirts alongside Victorian homes.

For a view of real infamy, take a tour of Alcatraz. The prison, empty since 1963, still retains its grim allure. Not for nothing was it called, by inmates and guards alike, The Rock.

And, of course, don’t leave without seeing – and walking across – the Golden Gate Bridge. This magnificent orange-vermilion structure fully deserves its reputation as the symbol of San Francisco. One of the world’s largest – and most beautiful – bridges it continues to attract thousands of visitors, just as it has since the turn of the century.

You may not leave your heart here, but you’re certain to take some of San Francisco’s with you when you go.

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