BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN SAN FRANCISCO
Alcatraz Island: Located over a mile off-shore in San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz is an island just over two acres that originally served as the sight for the first lighthouse and fort to be erected on the West Coast. It’s most famous role in history was becoming the nation’s first maximum security prison. This place served as a federal penitentiary from 1934 – 1963, housing infamous prisoners such as Al Capone. As the island was surrounded by open water with a healthy shark population, the prison never experienced a successful prisoner escape. Shortly after the prison was shut down, Native American activists occupied the island for nearly two years. Recently, Alcatraz has become a must-see spot for anyone visiting San Francisco. Taking a guided tour is worth the extra expense here, as you will learn about everything from the history of the island to exploring a chance to experience an encounter with one of the many spirits that is rumored to remain behind the prison’s walls!
Fisherman’s Wharf: One of the most popular spots for tourist to visit, this area encompasses the northern end of San Francisco’s historic waterfront district. This is the home of Pier 39, which is where some of the most exciting attractions can be found, including The Aquarium of the Bay, arcades and plenty of shopping and dining options. This is also an excellent opportunity to spot sea lions, who rest upon the docks and even the shoreline! Another popular option is visiting Ghirardelli Square, which served as the manufacturing plant for Ghirardelli chocolates for approximately seventy years. Today, it is a mecca for shopping, including stores such as Mashka Jewelry and Vom Tass. If you can eat at only one place while exploring Fisherman’s Wharf, make is Scoma’s. With their “pier to plate” philosophy, it is at once an excellent spot to enjoy incredibly fresh seafood while still maintaining a relaxed, less formal pretense. For lunch, you can’t beat the open-faced albacore tuna melt while the dinner menu offers a delicious lobster bisque or clam chowder. The Prawns Annuzzi are a particular favorite amongst customers as a main course, as is the Oyster a la Scoma.
The Golden Gate Bridge: This fabulous, bright orange suspension bridge is probably the most iconic landmark associated with the city of San Francisco. Opened in 1937, the 1.7-mile-long bridge connects San Francisco with the Marin counties of Northern California. With towers reaching almost 750 feet tall, this is a prime tourist destination, attracting more than ten million visitors each year! While it may seem silly to visit a bridge, there is far more to the Golden Gate than can be seen simply by driving or walking over the bridge. The visitors center is a valuable resource for learning about the history of the bridge and the area surrounding it, while there are guided tours available as well! If you are planning on walking across the bridge, please be sure the pay attention to the weather forecast, as rain, fog and chilly conditions can make the excursion far less exciting!
Union Square: Heralded as the most frequently visited neighborhood in the entire city, this place can be rightfully named the Rodeo Drive of Northern California. Here, you will find a wide array of high-end stores boasting top designer names such as Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vitton and Valentino. During the milder months, the outdoor cafes here are a spectacular spot for relaxing and people-watching! The Rotunda Café located at the fourth level of Neiman Marcus is a must visit area for anyone seeking to break up the day of shopping with a delicious meal located in a polished setting. They are only open for lunch, but what a lunch you will have here! An impressive wine list pairs with signature cocktail options such as the gorgeous Mary or blackberry julep, leading to lobster fries or a shrimp and crab cocktail as a beginning to a wonderful culinary experience. For the main attraction, the crab and shrimp Louie salad is out of this world, as is the lobster club and Dungeness crab melt!