Eight Things To Do On Your First Visit to San Francisco

  • Group in front of Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Famous for its liberal attitude, hilly streets and summer fog, San Francisco is quite unlike any other city in the USA. Made up of a cluster of smaller neighbourhoods, this 7x7 mile city of only 850,000 people feels more like a friendly town than an internationally-acclaimed metropolis. We've got eight things to do to make your first visit a truly memorable city adventure! 

1. Visit Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island

The world’s most famous prison closed in 1963, but visitors to San Francisco can now tour the prison building and island, and hear tales of the most fascinating inmates and escape attempts. If you’re planning a visit, book in advance – tickets are rarely available on the day.

2. Watch the sea lions on Pier 39

Sea lions on Pier 39

These lovable creatures appeared at Pier 39 in 1989, and have been regular inhabitants since. Once you’ve checked them out, grab a delicious bowl of clam chowder in Fisherman’s Wharf.

3. Shop for vintage finds in Haight-Ashbury

Tie dye shop in Haight Ashbury neighbourhood

Haight-Ashbury is known for being the city’s countercultural hub, and a central part of the hippie movement in the 1960s. Today, you’ll find boutiques, vintage stores, and plenty of tie-dye!

4. Stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

We almost didn’t even add this to our list, because it’s THAT obvious – but walking across this infamous structure is a rite of passage on your first visit to the City By The Bay!

5. Ride the Cable Car

Girl on San Francisco Cable Car

Although compact San Francisco is a happily walkable city, give your tired legs a rest and ride along the city streets in an iconic cable car.

6. Walk the bends of Lombard Street

Lombard Street in San Francisco

‘America’s most crooked street’, Lombard features a total of eight tightly-packed hairpin switchbacks. Not for the faint hearted drivers, but pretty fun to check out on foot!

7. Eat authentic Chinese food in Chinatown

Lanterns in Chinatown, San Francisco

Often referred to as America’s best Chinatown, this is the place to go to grab a plate of tasty dim sum.

8. See the iconic ‘Painted Ladies’ houses

Painted Ladies in San Francisco

These brightly coloured abodes are a San Francisco Instagram staple – and you’ll get the best snaps from nearby Alamo Square Park.

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