San Francisco is one of the most visited cities in the world and no wonder – few places on Earth can offer this much character in such a compact package. Known for its liberality, in this city everyone is welcome just the way they are. It’s also the perfect destination for all food-lovers – there are ten times more restaurants per resident in San Francisco compared to any other American city. While the weather in San Francisco is usually a bit cooler than you might expect for California especially during the summer, the warm and cosy atmosphere and stunning views will make it up to you tenfold. Equip with a pair of comfortable walking shoes and a sweater and embrace the eclectic City by the Bay with Finnair’s travel guide.
SIGHTS IN SAN FRANCISCO
- Fisherman’s Wharf – no visit to San Francisco is complete without a visit to Fisherman’s Wharf. Stroll along the famous Fish Alley and purchase a walkaway crab cocktail or head indoors for a steaming bowl of clam chowder cached in a sourdough bread bowl.
- Golden Gate Bridge – once called "the bridge that couldn't be built," today it is one of the seven wonders of the modern world. This magnificent bridge, perhaps San Francisco's most famous landmark, opened in 1937 after a four-year struggle against relentless winds, fog, rocks and treacherous tides.
- Alcatraz – Alcatraz was the site of the first lighthouse in the Western United States but later became a federal penitentiary housing famous convicts such as Al Capone. Located just a short ferry-ride away from Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz is one of San Francisco’s most popular attractions. A visit to the island includes a tour of the cell house where you can see where the prisoners lived.
- The Haight neighbourhood – San Francisco's iconic "Summer of Love" in the 1960s had its beginnings primarily in the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood. The free-love movement also paved the way for the area becoming a bohemian gay enclave.
- Chinatown – the second largest Asian community in North America, San Francisco’s Chinatown is as old as the city itself. Whether you’d like to find authentic Chinese food to marvel your taste buds, see some proper Chinese style architecture or uncover the secrets of making fortune cookies, Chinatown is the place to go.
- Japantown – one of San Francisco’s hidden treasures, the city’s Japantown is the oldest one of the three still remaining Japantowns in the US. The compact neighbourhood comprises only six square blocks and is packed to the brim with all things Japanese.
- SFMOMA – the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art offers an exhaustingly large array of galleries and contemporary art.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO NEAR SAN FRANCISCO
- Napa Valley – located just an hour north of San Francisco, Napa Valley is best known for its high-quality wineries. Although the wine will of course be a big part of any visit, the area also boasts biking rails, beautiful golf courses and charming towns with plenty of shopping opportunities and delicious restaurants.
- Yosemite – this world-famous national park is definitely worth seeing. On your way there, be sure not to miss the Tunnel View providing an incredibly scenic view over the Yosemite Valley. From there you can admire the spectacular vistas of the imposing granite cliff, El Capitan, the iconic Half Dome and beautiful Bridalveil Fall. If you want to stay overnight, there are also historical grand hotels in the valley such as the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, previous known as the Ahwahnee Hotel. The trip to the valley from San Francisco takes about four hours.
- Silicon Valley – famous for being the mecca of innovation filled with tech start-ups and wealthy engineers, Silicon Valley is all that and much more. Here you can take a guided tour of Stanford University, visit the famous Museum of Computer History and stroll through South Park, where several tech start-ups have taken their first steps before making it big. Less than an hour away from San Francisco.
- Sonoma County – another famous wine region near San Francisco. Here you can discover unique wineries with hidden caves, amazing vistas, historic legends and amazing food and wine pairings less than an hour away from San Francisco.
SHOPPING IN SAN FRANCISCO
San Francisco is the place to discover the best locally made fashion, art, food, drink, and home goods. Look for the label SFMade, which ensures that the product you’re purchasing was made in San Francisco.
- Macy’s Union Square – the flagship store of the West Coast located in the heart of San Francisco’s shopping district. Here you’ll find an exceptionally good selection of affordable luxury fashion as well as home goods, cosmetics, fragrances and gift items.
- Ferry Building – the 65,000 square foot Marketplace houses more than 50 unique stores and restaurants and brings together the Bay Area's agriculture wealth and renowned specialty food purveyors under one roof.
- Levi’s Store – as the birthplace of Levi's® jeans, San Francisco offers exclusive Levi's® products at their store on Market Street, including a tailor shop that will customize your own pair of denim.
- Harrington Galleries – a lifestyle emporium located in the heart of San Francisco's Mission District and a Bay Area landmark for more than 40 years. Specialized in antiques and vintage furniture and accessories.
- Alexander Book Store – one of the many fantastic independent bookstores in San Francisco, offering 50,000 books spreading over three floors. The shop is located near Union Square and Moscone Center.
- Cliff’s Variety – the ultimate one-stop shop, you’ll find everything under and over the rainbow at Cliff’s Variety in Castro. A great place for home improvement, gifts, and browsing.
AMERICAN FOOD & DRINK IN SAN FRANCISCO
San Francisco is a must for foodies because of its commitment to culinary innovation, not to mention having more than its fair share of Michelin-starred restaurants.
- Mission burrito – a large-size burrito specific to San Francisco’s Mission District. It consists of a wheat flour tortilla filled with rice, beans, meat and salsa and is often served with chips. A popular late-night snack.
- Cioppino – a seafood stew that was invented in San Francisco in the late 1800’s. Made from the catch of the day that is combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce and served with toasted bread.
- Vegan food – whether you’re looking for an all-vegan restaurant or a vegan-friendly place serving also meat-oriented dishes, San Francisco has plenty of options to choose from, from gourmet dining to inexpensive comfort food.
- Sourdough bread – white bread characterised by a pronounced sourness; a historical San Francisco specialty.
- Wines – thanks to the nearby Sonoma and Napa Valley wineries, the wine selection in San Francisco is exquisite.
TRANSPORT IN SAN FRANCISCO
Compact San Francisco is very easy to navigate, and there are plenty of transportation options available.
- MUNI – San Francisco Municipal operates buses, trains, cable cars and the F-lineheritage streetcar. Visitor Passports and CityPASS are handy for tourists as they provide unlimited rides on Muni, Muni Metro, streetcars and cable cars at affordable prices.
- Cable cars – San Francisco’s famous cable cars and streetcars run on three lines: Powell-Hyde, Powell-Mason and California Street line. Note that you may need to queue a while to get on.
- Taxi – you can hail a taxi directly on the street or use a smartphone app.
- By foot – walking in San Francisco is easy and popular. Just allow for the fact that there are quite a lot of hills!
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