Those lucky enough to live or work in San Francisco understand why it is one of the top tourist destinations. In fact, San Francisco is one of the 100 most visited cities in the world, and attracts the 5th highest number of foreign visitors of any city in America. One cannot possibly take in all of the sights and sounds the city has to offer, but here are 5 activities that everyone needs to do to enjoy an authentic San Francisco experience.
1) Visit the Haight-Ashbury
Centrally located in the city, Haight-Ashbury district is notable for being the epicenter of the “hippie” movement. The counterculture, steeped in its love of art, psychedelic rock music and sticking it to “the man”, came to ahead in the summer of 1967 when thousands of young men and women converged on the quaint neighborhood to take in concerts and participate in demonstrations. Today the neighborhood still boasts the counterculture aesthetic, but has slowly transformed into a popular shopping hub, offering a mix of unique boutiques, record stores and mainstream shops.
2) Take in Chinatown
[Image Credit: Z & Y Restaurant]
Many large metropolitan areas have a Chinatown, but none are as prolific as San Francisco’s. Established as a port of entry for working-class Chinese immigrants in the 1850’s, Chinatown remains an important epicenter for the Chinese culture in America, with dozens of social clubs, places of worship, shops and restaurants committed to maintaining cultural authenticity. San Francisco’s Chinatown is noted for being the birthplace of westernized Chinese cuisine, bringing dishes like Dim sum to the forefront. If planning a day in Chinatown, prepare for crowds; the district is the most densely populated area of the city.
3) Catch a game at AT&T Park
You don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy an afternoon at AT&T Park, the home of the MLB’s 2012, 2014, & 2016 World Series champion San Francisco Giants. Located along the water in the cities China Basin neighborhood, the stadium has been home to the team since 2000, when they moved from the aging Candlestick Park. The beautiful stadium offers gorgeous views of the bay that visitors can take in while scarfing down a helping of the famous garlic fries offered there.
4) Fisherman’s Wharf
Another heavily visited area, Fisherman’s Wharf has so many things to do it can be a bit overwhelming at times. Established as the home base for seafood in the mid to late 1800’s, mainly by immigrant fisherman from Italy, the Wharf is still dozens of great seafood restaurants that serve fresh crab, lobster rolls, and clam chowder. The Wharf is also home to floating museums like the USS Pampanito, a World War II-era submarine. Most visitors converge at Pier 39, which features the Aquarium of the Bay, the famous sea lion enclave, and serves as the launching point for ferries to other surrounding Bay Area communities.
[Image Credit: Bistro Boudin]
5) Take a stroll through Golden Gate Park
Need a break from all the hustle and bustle downtown? Then a relaxing afternoon in the San Francisco’s largest park is right up your alley. Stretching over three miles long, thousands of visitors visit the park each year to enjoy the trails, lakes, and trees abound. The park is also home to great museums like the De Young and the Academy of Sciences, as well as the Japanese Tea Garden (the oldest in the US). After at day at the park, there is no better way to end it than a meal at the Beach Chalet, a great restaurant at the north end of the park that offers breathtaking views of the ocean