Is San Francisco on your bucket list? It’s no wonder! With mild temperatures, culture, history, world-class foods, and abundant activities, San Francisco is an excellent summer destination. Here’s a guide for planning activities to experience all the city offers!
One of the best ways to experience San Francisco’s culture and charm is by visiting its eclectic neighbourhoods.
Haight-Ashbury the Mission is deemed the birthplace of hippy culture as the epicentre of the flower power movement in the 60s. Today, the neighbourhood pays homage to that era with brightly coloured houses, vintage shops, and painted murals. Check out the Jerry Garcia and Evolutionary Rainbow murals on Cole Street or the Painted Ladies houses scattered throughout the neighbourhood.
Chinatown, established in 1848, is home to more than 100,000 people, making it the first and largest Chinese district in America. Eat at the numerous restaurants serving traditional foods, and immerse yourself in the culture and history of Chinese Americans. View traditional architecture at Sing Chon, the Telephone Exchange, and Dragon Gate. Visit the Chinese Historical Society of America and Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco for exhibits and tours.
North Beach, called Little Italy, is known for its Italian-American community and restaurants. The area was also a recluse for the alternative Beat Generation, including writers Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, featured at the Beat Museum. While in the neighbourhood, experience a stunning 360-degree view of San Francisco from the art-deco Coit Tower.
Castro, where the rainbow flag become the symbol of the LGBT movement, has been a welcoming community to the gay population since the 1940s. Join the neighbourhood in celebrating this community and its history with a visit to the Rainbow Honor Walk, the GLBT History Museum, or Pink Triangle Park, a memorial dedicated to homosexual victims oppressed by the Nazi regime.
Photo: xavierarnau via gettyimages.com
A trip to San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without visiting some of its most famous sites.
Probably most central and famous is the Golden Gate Bridge. Once the world’s longest suspension bridge, it is most well known for its red colour and beautiful silhouette with the backdrop of the city. There are several spots throughout the city for viewing, including Fort Point, Vista Point, Presidio National Park, and Battery Spence.
Next up is Alcatraz, an island off the city famous for once housing a maximum-security federal penitentiary. Closed in 1963 due to the high operation costs, the former prison is now open to tours. Visits require a ferry ride, and advanced bookings are highly recommended.
You will feel like you are in a scene from a movie while riding a San Francisco Cable Car. Deemed a National Historic Landmark, the cars are a piece of history and a perfect way to travel between popular sites in the city. Pay per ride or get a single-day or multi-day passport. Recommended trips include the Powell/Hyde Line from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf or the California Line over Nob Hill and into the Financial District.
Fisherman’s Wharf makes for another iconic, must-see spot during your visit. Home to Ghiradelli Square and dozens of delicious restaurants, many highlighting local seafood, it is the perfect spot to experience the local flavours. In addition, many bicycle, bus, and ferry tours start at the wharf.
Down the road is the Ferry Building Marketplace, where visitors can shop for local foods and crafts. Once a bustling ferry hub, in 2003, the building was transformed into the current market space. From sit-down restaurants to food vendors and a thriving Farmer’s Market next door, it is a culinary dream of food variety.
Museums & The Arts
San Francisco is well known for being rich in culture, education, and arts. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is one of the largest in the country, with seven floors featuring paintings, sculptures, and photography exhibits. The Palace of Fine Arts, with its 39 rooms of art, is best known for its picturesque Greco-Roman rotunda, gardens, and pond.
The California Academy of Sciences, located in Golden Gate Park, is a planetarium, aquarium, rain forest, and natural history museum all in one. The Exploratorium at Fisherman’s Warf has more than 600 interactive exhibits where visitors can engage with science. The San Francisco Zoo and Aquarium of the Bay are also popular family attractions.
Experience the world-class San Francisco Symphony with classical performances inspired by popular movies or musicians. The San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Ballet also have live performances in the historical and stunning War Memorial building.
Whether you take in a performance, eat your way through the city, or visit all the most popular tourist destinations, your summer vacation to San Francisco will be one you always remember.