Welcome to the home of the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars and Alcatraz. Located along the Northern California coast, San Francisco has a special charm that draws people to the Bay and has influenced many of the artists and musicians that have called this beautiful city their home. After the devastating earthquake of 1906, San Francisco had to be almost completely rebuilt and was redesigned as the city we know today. In 1937, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge was built and around this time the island of Alcatraz began to serve as a federal maximum-security prison, housing notorious inmates such as Al Capone. San Francisco was also home to social movements like the ‘Summer of Love’ in the 1960s, which have shaped the city’s image and charm. When your bus arrives in the heart of San Francisco, you will be surrounded by world-renowned landmarks, top-notch food trucks, and almost endless outdoor adventures. Stroll along Fisherman’s Wharf and check out the shops, restaurants and infamous sea lions or hop on a cable car ride up one of the city’s 50 hills. San Francisco really has it all!
Golden Gate Bridge
Regarded as one of the wonders of the modern world, the Golden Gate Bridge is San Francisco’s most famous landmark with over 10 million visitors each year. Taking only four years to build, the bridge was opened in 1937 and has been a popular tourist destination ever since. There are a range of spots that allow you to get the best view of the bridge including Baker Beach, Fort Baker, Crissy Field, Lands End and the Golden Gate Overlook, just to name a few. You can also walk or bike over the bridge or sail underneath! At the visitor’s center, you can not only buy Golden Gate Bridge merchandise but also learn more about the history of the bridge and its construction.
Several other tourist destinations are located near the bridge, including the Walt Disney Family Museum, Fort Point and Baker Beach. The Walt Disney Family Museum offers a variety of interactive exhibits about the movie studio and its founder, as well as early drawing, cartoons, movies and a 14-foot model of Disneyland. Fort Point is a Civil War era fortress that sits on the water’s edge just inside the Golden Gates, where visitors can take tours of the inside and outside of the fort. Close to the fort is also Bakers Beach, and while there may not be perfect beach weather all year round in San Francisco, it is still worth it to take a walk along Bakers Beach for that perfect Instagram shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. Even on the coldest days of summer, you will see people trying to get a few rays of sun here.
After arriving in San Francisco by bus, head down to the bay and explore the historic Fisherman’s Wharf district with its fantastic food at several outdoor stands near iconic landmarks like PIER 39, Ghirardelli Square, the National Maritime Museum and Hyde Street Pier.
Walk along Pier 39 and discover two levels of dining, shopping and a variety of attractions, including the Aquarium of the Bay, street performers and the infamous sea lions. While Pier 39 is home to some of the freshest seafood dishes, there are all types of restaurants and food stalls on the pier.
No trip to San Francisco is complete without visiting Alcatraz Island. Head to Pier 33 where you can take a ferry to the island while enjoying an amazing view of the harbor and the bridge on the way. A visit to the former prison includes an audio tour of the cell house and island, where visitors can see the cells of former prisoners, such as Al Capone, who served their prison time on Alcatraz. The facility is still almost completely as it was when the last prisoners were transferred in 1963. Make sure to buy tickets early as they sell out fast!
After a morning at Fisherman’s Wharf, catch one of San Francisco’s iconic cable cars to Chinatown. Regarded as the second biggest Chinatown outside of Asia, this neighborhood has been an important and influential part of Chinese immigration to North America. There are two entrances to Chinatown, one off Bush Avenue, where you will find the traditional Dragon Gate, and Grant Avenue which will lead you into the heart of Chinatown. Dragon Gate is a great place to buy souvenirs, however, further up the street you will be able to find a range of tea shops, food markets, restaurants and bars that are more authentic.
Make sure to visit Old Saint Mary’s Cathedral, the first Asian church in North America, which was built in 1853 and was the only building in Chinatown to survive the 1906 earthquake. Another landmark in Chinatown is the Old Telephone Exchange, which was also formerly the Bank of Canton. The women who worked at Telephone Exchange had to know the names and numbers of every resident of Chinatown and speak Cantonese, Mandarin and English. Check out the Tin How Temple, the oldest Buddhist temple in the United States, which was built to honor the Goddess of Heaven and Sea. Even just exploring the alleys of Chinatown will let you experience Chinese culture, and you will never know what street performers you will find.
Your Bus Stop in San Francisco, CA
San Francisco (5th/Townsend)
409 Townsend Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
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