Spring is the ideal time to vacation in San Francisco, California. The weather is pleasantly mild compared to many parts of the U.S., and the crowds are thin to non-existent. Millions of visitors have left their hearts in San Francisco, as the song goes. Yes, it’s a cliché but it’s also true. When you vacation in one of the most delightful of all cities, it’s inevitable that you’ll leave a piece of your heart behind.
A San Francisco vacation has many wonderful things to offer beyond the typical tourist attractions. Nevertheless, visitors always seem to want to see and do the things that have made this “City By The Bay” famous. What follows then, are just a few of San Francisco’s popular tourist attractions. Of course, to properly plan your San Francisco vacation, you should really pick up a good tour book.
Lombard Street: drive or walk down the “crookedest street in the world,” a one-block series of S-curves that descends down a steep 40-degree slope.
Ghirardelli Square offers hundreds of unique boutiques, bakeries and restaurants located in a sprawling complex of white-trimmed brick buildings. Don’t even think of skipping the Ghirardelli Chocolate factory. Here, you can see a giant vat of swirling chocolate that looks so good, you’ll be tempted to jump in. (Their chocolate sundaes are worth the long wait).
Alcatraz Island: a scenic 20-minute ferry ride takes you to “The Rock” where you can learn all about the history of this former maximum security prison. It’s spooky, fascinating, educational and fun for all ages.
Pier 39: take a spin on the beautiful San Francisco Carousel, which features classic horses, rocking chariots, spinning tubs and swings. Handcrafted in Italy, this intricately hand-painted carousel depicts famous San Francisco landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Coit Tower. For lunch, get the infamous clam chowder served in a huge, hollowed out sourdough round, then watch the amusing antics of the sea lions sunning themselves on the docks. Pier 39 also has a host of zany mimes, magicians, jugglers, comedians and other talented street performers that entertain the crowds for free (tips welcome of course).
Aquarium of the Bay is another fun tourist attraction located at Pier 39 in San Francisco. Here, you can walk through crystal-clear underwater tunnels surrounded by thousands of fish, sharks and other fascinating marine animals.
Japanese Tea Garden: pagodas, statuary, bridges, ponds and miniature waterfalls create authentic Oriental ambience in this nearly four-acre garden located in Golden Gate Park. It’s especially lovely in the springtime, when the cherry trees are in full bloom.
Whether you stick to the well known tourist attractions or explore its hidden gems, a San Francisco vacation will stay in your heart forever. Once you’ve experienced the wonders this beautiful and unique Northern California city has to offer, you’ll surely want to return again next year.