Things to Do in San Francisco
Here is a look at some of the things to do in San Francisco,
based on our recent trip there (2008).
Alcatraz and Fisherman's Wharf
At top of the list for many people is a trip to Alcatraz,
the famous prison island in just a mile out in the San Francisco
bay. Having been there before, I can say that it is worth the
cost, which is about $25 per person at the moment. The boat ride
alone is impressive, giving you a different view of the city.
The prison is both depressing and fascinating.
Having tried to go there on our recent trip, I can also say
that it makes sense to have reservations. We arrived in town
on a Wednesday, and the next available seats on the tour were
for the following Monday. Unfortunately, that was the morning
we were leaving. If this happens to you, though, there are alternatives.
In our case, we took a boat tour ($22) which went under the Golden
Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz Island. Other tours of various
sorts are available in the Fisherman's Wharf area.
(Note: The lady at the ticket counter said there was no way
to get tickets to Alcatraz, but there may be. After a guard also
said there was no way to buy tickets of those who canceled there
reservations, I waited, and he quietly told me, "Get in
line tomorrow at 7:00 AM." So perhaps there is a way to
get on that boat if you are an early riser.)
Fisherman's Wharf is a great place to hang out in any case.
There are numerous seafood restaurants, street performers to
watch, a wax museum, Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not, and other attractions.
Tours of the city on open-top busses also leave from here. Amphibious
vehicles take you on drives that go in and out of the water.
There is also a Hard Rock Cafe.
Other Things To Do In San Francisco
There must be thousands of restaurants in San Francisco, serving
food of every type. In the few days we were in town (we drove
out to see other parts of the area) we ate seafood, Nicaraguan
food, Chinese food, and more. If you like to try new foods, plan
on exploring many areas of the city.
It can be very reasonable to eat out here if you look around.
One evening, for example, we ate at "Tuk Tuk Restaurant"
in the North Beach area. They serve Thai food, and dinners start
at about $8. I had a dish I can't recall the name of that was
unlike anything I had ever eaten before (with dried shrimp and
lime juice and cabbage), and a Singha beer. Delicious. My wife
Ana ordered a bowl of chicken soup for about $6, which would
have fed four people.
What else? You can rent a bicycle and ride across the Golden
Gate Bridge (rentals can be found in the Fisherman's Wharf area).
You can take a tour to the Muir Woods north of the city, to see
the giant Redwood trees (well worth seeing). A walk through China
town will provide you with an opportunity to buy all the unusual
things you might want. Other areas have great shopping as well.
Union Square is surrounded by stores of every sort, for example.
Parks seem to be everywhere. The Golden Gate park has hiking
and biking opportunities. The Presidio may seem familiar, since
you have probably seen it in a few movies. Lincoln Park has a
To get around, you have many options. Although the famous
cable cars cost $5, we were not charged either time we took one.
This is apparently common if the conductor is alone and you get
on in the middle of the route. There are also busses, taxis,
tour busses that you can get on and off of all day for a set
price, and electric trolleys. Most city maps show the routes
for the Trolleys, busses and streetcars.
Many hotels have coupon books and guides to attractions. Ask
about these when you check in and you'll find plenty of things
to do in San Francisco.