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San Francisco in One Day

San Francisco--the City by the Bay--all major sights in one guide
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 6 miles
Duration: Full day
Family Friendly

Overview:  San Francisco--beautiful city by the bay. Over the years so much has been said and written about San Francisco, does it even need an... more »

Tips:  The trip conveniently starts and ends close to BART (subway) stations. If you're looking for parking in downtown then try the lot on... more »

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Points of Interest

It's the central plaza of San Francisco's shopping and hotel district, sometimes also considered the "heart" of the city. In the middle of the square is a 100-foot-tall monument of Adm. George Dewey; surrounding the square are shops, restaurants and department stores. Very festive during holiday season, Union Square hosts the tallest Christmas... More

2. Gateway to Chinatown

Dragon Gate on the intersection of Grand and Bush Street is the iconic entrance to San Francisco's Chinatown.

San Francisco Chinatown holds a few accolades: It is not only the largest Chinatown outside of Asia but is also the oldest in North America. Grant Avenue is the main touristy artery with a lot of souvenir stores. While you are here try to wander off this main street to also see other parts of the Chinatown. Right after you pass Old Saint Mary's... More

There are several little streets (Waverly, Spofford, Ross) that still reflect Chinatown's appearance a century ago. Some of them are quite narrow and maybe also little on the shady side, but do tread with no hesitation.

After you find your way out of this little maze continue on to Stockton Street--this is the newer Chinatown of today, where the ... More

This part of town famous is for a medley of things: It is San Francisco's Little Italy--home to a large Italian-American community; it's historically famous for the Beat Generation of 1950s and '60s; and it's also is a red light district.

With tons of restaurants everywhere, the view down the Columbus Avenue toward the iconic Transamerica... More

The white St. Peter and Paul Church dominates this popular park/square.

The "crookedest" street of America and one of the most photographed places in San Francisco. Pricey and pretty homes line both sides of the street. From the top of the street are beautiful sights of Telegraph Hill, San Francisco Bay and Alcatraz Island.

Home to the famous chocolate company is a little square with many specialty stores, restaurants and--as the name hints--chocolate. Do walk into the store for free samples or to order something delicious from Ghirardelli's menu.

Ghiradelli Shop
Hours: Mon-Thu,Sun 9am-11pm; Fri-Sat 9am-12am
Phone: (415) 771-4903

What started during the gold rush as a common place where fisherman settled is now a buzzing neighborhood popular with tourists. You'll find seafood restaurants, street food stands and, of course, Dungeness crab, clam chowder and sourdough bread. If you decide to try only one thing here, pick clam chowder in a bread bowl--yummy!

Also here are... More

This pier is one of the many attractions in the Fisherman's Wharf area. It offers scores of shops, restaurants, an aquarium and lazy, sleepy, smelly sea lions. The California sea lions of Pier 39 are a must-see in San Francisco. You can find them at the west end of the pier any time of the year, although their numbers may vary. An interesting fact... More

There are two steep stairway paths to the top of Telegraph Hill; Filbert Steps are one. Most people access the Coit Tower on the top of the hill from the North Beach/Washington Square side. Another way is to climb the quaint Filbert Steps. Almost resembling a walk through a botanical garden, these steps are worth the climb.

From the top of this 200-foot-tall tower is an unobstructed 360-degree view of the city. The only inconvenience hindering a picturesque shot from the top of the tower is the glass that protects you from trying to fly off the tower.

Near the entrance of the tower is a bronze statue of Christopher Columbus donated by city's Italian-American... More

Telegraph Hill is one of the original seven hills of San Francisco (there are more than 40 hills around the city). This is a much quieter part of town, especially when compared to neighboring North Beach. Here find typical San Francisco-styled architecturally pretty street corners with cute, colorful houses.

14. Red Light District

Today, San Francisco's Red Light District is more of an artists' hang out. There are a few striptease clubs but they are outnumbered by restaurants and galleries. An interesting--maybe--historic fact is that Condor Club at corner of Columbus and Broadway was America's first-ever topless bar, opened in 1964.

15. Beat Generation

Another famous fact about constantly buzzing North Beach is that during 1950s it became a center for the Beat Generation. Names like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and City Light Bookstore still ring around here.

Cafe Vesuvio and Kerouac Alley are some of the many businesses that actively participated in this cultural phenomenon.

The oldest commercial neighborhood in San Francisco, Jackson Square provides a glimpse back into times around the California Gold Rush. Despite the modern development all around, this district retains a lot of its original charm.

Symbolic and still, to date, the tallest building in the city.

There are four office towers in the main complex that span across several blocks. They offer three levels of stores, restaurants, galleries, cinema and more.

A few other buildings belong to the center, including the Hyatt Regency hotel with a glistening atrium inside (access it from Drumm Street or across the pedestrian bridge from Embarcadero 4 ... More

As you crossed Justin Herman Plaza to the east end of the Embarcadero Center with a very dominant (and to be honest quite, ugly) water sculpture, "Quebec Libre," you've reached the San Francisco Ferry Building.

What used to be a dedicated ferry terminal is now an upscale gourmet marketplace with a wine bar, burger joints, seafood restaurants, an ... More