San Francisco is one of those cities that needs no introduction; the “City by the Bay” is renowned for everything from sightseeing to shopping to entertainment, not to mention its natural beauty. While there’s no end to fun ways to fill your days in San Francisco, here are a few highlights we think no visitor should miss.
Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market
The Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market is a great way to spend a Saturday morning in San Francisco. You’ll find vendors selling colorful, fresh produce (much of it organic), seafood, specialty meats and cheeses, and other culinary items such as jams, olive oils, local honey, breads and desserts – all against the backdrop of the beautiful Bay Bridge. And this is one place it’s okay to go grocery shopping with an appetite; take your pick of the many restaurants and street food vendors serving unique and delicious food to satisfy your hunger. Top it off with a bouquet of fresh flowers, and you’re good to go.
This cool and unique (and kind of kooky!) San Francisco landmark is a steep, one-way street consisting of 8 hairpin turns interspersed with attractive landscaping and flowers. It might not sound like much, but tourists flock here for a reason. Start at the bottom, where the impressive zig-zag design makes for great photo ops. While you walk to the top of the stairs alongside the road, enjoy the beautiful homes on either side of the brick-paved lane. Once you get to the top, you’ll be rewarded with great views of the city, including Coit Tower. Of course, if you’ve already walked enough San Francisco hills for one day, you can always start from the top for a less strenuous experience.
Balmy Street Murals
Located off of 24th St., Balmy Alley is one of the best places to get a taste of the exquisite and unique mural art of the Mission District. Culturally relevant with vibrant colors and amazing details, the murals tell stories; most are centered around Latin-American issues. And unlike many museums, you won’t have to wait in line, and you can take as many photos as you want. While viewing the murals is free, you can choose to take a guided tour from Precita Eyes Mural Arts for between $10 and $12. And when you’re ready for some refreshments after all that walking, there are plenty of bars, restaurants, and cafés in the 24th Street area to choose from.
California Academy of Sciences
Located in Golden Gate Park, Cal Academy may be the only place in the world where you can experience an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, rain forest, 40, 000 live animals and many engaging exhibits all under one roof – a 2.5 acre living roof, that is. A towering T-Rex skeleton, a colony of African penguins, a fully-immersive digital screen by which to fly to the farthest reaches of the Universe… there’s plenty to interest both kids and adults, and you could easily spend a whole day here.
Once an abandoned former U.S. Army airfield, Crissy Field is now a grassy heaven that boasts a beach area, sand dunes, trails and wetlands to explore. It’s the perfect place to ride your bike, go for a walk, run around with the kids, or enjoy a picnic, and the views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge can’t be beat. If you’ve spent a couple days riding cable cars and visiting museums and you need a day of leisure and rest, this is a great place to get it. Tip: Bring a jacket, as the breeze can pick up mid-day and cool things down.
So there you have it, five of the must-see sites that you might not have heard of before. Of course, make sure if you’re in town you see the Golden Gate Bridge and the other standard landmarks, but seeing the sights above will give you a more unique look at what San Francisco has to offer.
This post was provided by Alicia Russo, Director of Social Media for CityPASS. To see the top attractions in San Francisco for less, pick up a San Francisco CityPASS. You’ll get discounted admission to the Cal Academy, Aquarium of the Bay, Exploratorium, and more.