Updated: Apr 7
Located in Northern California, the iconic city of San Francisco has a lot to offer. With amazing food, historic spots, and beautiful scenery, it’s hard to run out of things to discover in this city. This San Francisco travel guide will help make your trip a memorable one.
Golden Gate Bridge & the Marina District
Starting off with the biggest and what we consider one of the most iconic features of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge is a must-visit for your trip. You can walk on part of the bridge (or go all the way across if you have the time!) and look out onto the San Francisco Bay and the city’s coastline. Surrounding the Golden Gate Bridge are open grass fields and beaches, which are beautiful scenic places to snap a picture with the bridge in the background. Just remember to bring a jacket since San Francisco (and especially walking on the Golden Gate) can get pretty windy! If you want to check out a nearby local spot, go to Radhaus for some yummy pretzels and beer!
After visiting the bridge, the Presidio is a great area to walk around. The surrounding neighborhood, the Marina, is one of our favorites. Walk over to the Fort Mason Farmers Market on Sundays or visit Union Street for a yummy bite. Another popular place to visit is the Palace of Fine Arts, a 2-mile walk or 6-minute drive from the Golden Gate and known for its beautiful architecture.
If you are looking to go out at night, some fun local bars are Balboa, Westwood, The Dorian, Jaxson, Bus Stop, and The Tipsy Pig. The Marina is also a great and easy place to bar-hop if you want the thrill of adventure!
Fisherman’s Wharf is another popular destination for tourists. Visit waterfront restaurants, Ghirardelli Square, and lots of maritime museums. Fisherman’s Wharf is known for its wide variety of seafood restaurants, a colony of resting sea lions, and Pier 39 teeming with dining, attractions, and shopping options. If you’re up for the ride, you can also take sightseeing boats or a ferry to the prison island of Alcatraz.
The oldest Chinatown in the U.S. is the Chinatown in San Francisco, with some of the best dim sum, tea shops, and karaoke bars. TimeOut recommends visiting “China Live, a two-story marketplace, retail space, food demonstration hall, and high-end bar and restaurant, which is a must-see, as are the neighborhood’s quirkier, divier watering holes, like Buddha Lounge and Li Po Cocktail Lounge. Grant Avenue, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, is dotted with shops, bakeries, and grocers.”
Though listed in our places to avoid article, the Mission is a fabulous place to visit during the day. Soak in the murals painted throughout the district and enjoy the diversity of the cuisines. The Mission District is known for its Mexican community so there is a wide variety of good Mexican food you have to be sure to try. Also check out Mission Dolores Park, located on the western side of the Mission District, that sits on a hill overlooking downtown San Francisco and offers a great way to soak up the sun.
Located downtown, this area is a popular place for visitors to get their shopping fix. Union Square has large department stores and other entertainment options like theaters, so be sure to check out what’s on during the time you visit. Union Square is a great place to see or even ride cable cars and enjoy the big open courtyard that sits in the center. If you are visiting during the winter, be sure to stop by for some festive ice skating.
For those looking for a beach fix, visit Ocean Beach for miles of the coast. If you are looking for morning activities, visit Plow for brunch or Devil’s Teeth for a breakfast biscuit sandwich, and stop by Mollusk Surf Shop. Or you can enjoy the sunset and stay for a bonfire. Don’t forget to bring some jackets as San Francisco is notorious for its fog.
Visiting a big city like San Francisco can be intimidating if you don't know the area well. However, these are all major spots that are definitely worth checking out! The best way is always to visit it with a local. We have so many GlobeSisters who are hosting in the area and would love to meet up in San Francisco for a great time!