“Are you going to San-Fran-cisco…?” If so, you’re visiting one of the most fascinating cities in the Union. With world-famous landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, it’s no surprise that San Francisco is used as the setting for more films and TV shows than any other city in America.
Here’s my list of the 5 best things to do while you’re in Frisco.
Escape from Alcatraz
The Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary was once the most difficult prison to access or escape. Today, you can enjoy a leisurely cruise to the island and tour the cells that once held America’s most notorious criminals. Come here to see where Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Alvin “Creepy” Karpis were incarcerated to protect the public.
Alcatraz Island sits 1¼ miles off the coast. It originally hosted a fort built in the 1850s. Between 1910 and 1912, the United States Army replaced that with a new military prison. In 1934, these structures were modernized, and the building became a federal penitentiary.See the Golden Gate Bridge
The most iconic structure in San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge. If you want the best views of the bridge, either take a river cruise that passes underneath or stroll along Baker Beach. This popular beach offers soft sand and fantastic views of the bridge. However, you might also get views you don’t want to see because a portion of the beach is set aside for nudists.
The 1.7-mile-long Golden Gate Bridge spans the 1-mile-wide strait connecting the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco Bay. This magnificent landmark was opened in 1937 when it was the tallest and longest suspension bridge on Earth.
You can cycle or walk across the bridge for free. If you want to drive across it toward San Francisco, you must pay a $7.25 toll. Strangely, you don’t need to pay the toll when leaving the city. On the bridge, you’ll see specially trained volunteers ready to talk to suicidal pedestrians. Over 2,500 people have attempted to kill themselves by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Chinatown in San Franciso is the largest Chinese settlement outside Asia and the oldest Chinese quarter in North America. Chinese workers drawn here for the gold rush and to work on the railroads settled in San Francisco throughout the 19th century. Despite the Golden Gate Bridge being the most popular landmark in surveys, Chinatown actually sees more visitors than any other attraction in the city.
Chinatown has its own complex infrastructure, including 2 hospitals, several churches, and more traditional Chinese places of worship. With a population of 34,557, ethnically Chinese children growing up within this enclave are able to learn Chinese as their first language both inside and outside the home. As you explore the 24 city blocks, stop off for some authentic Chinese food at one of the many restaurants.
Tour California’s Wine Country
Napa Valley American Viticultural Area produces some of the world’s most popular wines, and it’s only 70 miles north of San Francisco. With a history stretching back to the 19th-century, many of the vineyards in this area are now premier wine producers.
The success of the Napa Valley vineyards is largely due to the local geology and Mediterranean climate. Today, many wine tourists come to the Napa Valley to tour its wineries and sample the best vintages.
Explore Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is renowned for its giant sequoia groves, lakes, waterfalls, streams, granite cliffs, and mountains. Every year, around 4 million visitors explore Yosemite National Park. If you’re visiting North California, you should make this popular pilgrimage into nature. Make sure you take along a good quality camera because you’ll see some stunning views.
This 748,436-acre national park supports 3,500 species of plant, 160 of these rare. These are spread over 5 distinct vegetation zones: alpine, subalpine, lower montane forest, upper montane forest, and chaparral and oak woodland. Yosemite is one of America’s oldest national parks and a fantastic place to enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor pursuits.