With vibrant street art and Pacific Ocean views, San Francisco is can’t-believe-your-eyes beautiful. But it’s not just a pretty face. Take a tour of San Francisco in 59 seconds and find out just how exciting this Californian city can be.
Golden gate gazing
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the seven wonders of the modern world and it’s not hard to see why. This bright red structure is 2.7 km long and you can drive, bike or walk across. As one of the most photographed bridges in the world, you’re going to need to get snap happy. Get a great vantage point for an Insta-perfect shot from Fort Point National Historic Site.
Fisherman’s Wharf is a wonderful place for a wander. Kitsch souvenir shops, steaming chowder in sourdough bread bowls, historic ships, a resident colony of sea lions and stunning bay views make it a firm favourite for any visitor. But children in particular will love all the family-friendly attractions – the Cartoon Art Museum always goes down well!
Also known as The Rock, the notorious Alcatraz Island Prison is a small island with an outsized reputation. Formerly a maximum security home to Al Capone among other criminals, The Rock waved goodbye to its last inmates in 1963. But its complex history isn’t just about the prison – from Civil War politics to Native American activism, there’s a lot to discover on Alcatraz.
Dreaming of setting sail on the Pacific Ocean? Well luckily there are tonnes of options that take you around San Francisco Bay and its iconic surroundings. Hop on a ferry to visit Alcatraz, make the short trip to Sausalito on water or see the city lights shine on a thrilling catamaran boat tour.
Enter the Dragon Gate
The biggest Chinatown outside of Asia and one of the oldest in North America, San Francisco’s Chinatown is a must-visit neighbourhood. Enter through Dragon Gate and lose yourself in the famous alleyways. From Taoist temples to seeing how fortune cookies are made, it’s easy to spend a whole day in this lively neighbourhood.
On a mission
San Francisco has long been a magnet for artists – just look at Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo’s relationship to the city. One of the best places to see the thriving art scene is in the Mission District, where well over 400 murals can be found. Take a tour or simply walk the streets yourself.
Touch the sky
The Transamerica Pyramid looms large on the San Francisco skyline. Completed in 1972, this was the city’s tallest skyscraper until 2017. Redwood Park lies at the base of the building and, true to its name, you can find towering trees here. The park is studded with curiosities, including whimsical sculptures and a plaque marking where a Gold Rush-era whaling vessel once lay.
Tree of life
There’s nothing more life-affirming than walking through a Giant Redwood Forest. These trees have stood the test of time – they can live for thousands of years. There are lots of amazing forests you can see just outside of San Francisco. Muir Woods is an easy day trip. Hop on a shuttle bus from Sausalito to walk below the ancient canopy.
Lombard Street is a fantastic example of making a city work in challenging terrain. This steep one-way block has eight hairpin turns. One of the most crooked streets in the world, it’s well worth taking a look for yourself. If you don’t fancy the steep hike up to the top, hop on a cable car and stroll down the winding road.
With its open rotunda and colonnades seemingly floating on a lagoon, the Palace of Fine Arts is a breathtaking sight. You can catch a show in the theatre inside, but really the biggest attraction here is the grounds. Walk around the building, examine the intricate details and enjoy a picnic while watching the swans float by.
Make a splash – San Francisco’s Bay Area has so much to offer surfers of every level. If you’re just starting out, Bolinas is a great spot to get your bearings. Meanwhile, Mavericks Beach is best suited to advanced surfers. This striking surf spot is best known for its annual big wave competition.
Looking for a mini road trip? Look no further than Highway 1, taking you from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. Simply rent a car and head on your way. This coastal route takes a little under 90 minutes in no traffic, but the stops along the way are half the fun. Hike Mori Point, discover the joys of artichoke bread, meet the elephant seals of Año Nuevo State Park and much more.
Mcway to go
McWay Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Bay Area. Depending on the tide, this 24m-waterfall cascades straight into the Pacific Ocean or onto a little beach. For unobstructed views, try the short hike on the McWay Falls Overlook Trail. It takes around half an hour and is suitable for all fitness levels.
Hole in one
San Francisco has a love affair with golf. Major tournaments have been held in the city, so its courses will be familiar to golf fans all over the world. Presidio Golf Course is one of the oldest on the West Coast, with a history dating back to 1895. Nestled within a national park, this is a picturesque place to play a few holes.
Raise a glass
With rolling hillside vineyards and luxurious boutique hotels, touring Napa Valley’s wineries is a fantastic way to spend a few days. The woman-run Tres Sabores is gorgeous and unpretentious – they even encourage you to bring your own picnic. For an opulent treat, check out the Inglenook Chateau. Or splash out on the famous Napa Valley Wine Train!
Are you ready for your own San Francisco adventure? Book now at www.aerlingus.com