Iconic landmarks in San Francisco to see
An icon of San Francisco, the red-hued Golden Gate Bridge is a must-visit landmark. Built in 1933, this art deco suspension bridge transports vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians across its 2.4-kilometre span over 250,000 times a day! Crossing on foot is the most enjoyable way to experience the bridge, especially as you can sometimes see whales passing (in season). For an alternative vantage point, take a Golden Gate Bay cruise.
Another area worth a stop on your cable car is Fisherman's Wharf, a family-friendly hotspot with attractions galore, where you can wave at the sea lions in the bay, explore Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, take a tour of the Ghirardelli chocolate factory or explore the free performances at PIER 39. The area is also home to a range of shopping and dining options for a bread bowl of famed clam chowder or wine tasting by the bay.
Over the waters, is there a more famous prison in the world? While prison stops don’t feature on many tourism itineraries, in San Francisco, Alcatraz is one of its most famous attractions. Hop aboard a 15-minute ferry ride to reach Alcatraz Island before touring the prison and wandering the grounds. The evening tour is a top pick for its sunset bay views.
Another great spot for sunset (and sunrise) is atop the Twin Peaks summits, another of the Golden City’s iconic destinations. Take the easy 1-hour walking trail or drive to the summit of the north peak to experience impressive 360-degree San Francisco Bay views.
Arts and culture in San Francisco
Built to resemble Greco-Roman architecture, the Palace of Fine Arts is a beautiful domed building on the northern side of San Francisco’s Marina District. Constructed for a 1915 expo, you can now watch music, comedy, and theatrical performances at this architectural landmark.
Experience the best local and global modern art at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Home to more than 33,000 works of art, SFMOMA is one of the largest contemporary art museums in the US. Housed in a cutting-edge, architecturally impressive buildings, allow 2-3 hours for your visit.
If classic art is more of interest, be sure to visit the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. Between the permanent collections and visiting exhibits, the museum houses arts and crafts from the 17th century onwards.
For San Francisco’s best street art, head to the Mission District for a self-guided tour. The best colour-drenched murals are around 24th Avenue, Balmy Alley, and Clarion Alley.