We love having the opportunity to conveniently explore new places. So we’ve partnered with United Airlines to highlight the ease of traveling cross-country. We recently traveled between New York/Newark and San Francisco, and this city by the bay has vistas and experiences that appeal to a wide range of travelers. On our trip with United, we visited popular sights throughout the city, ranging from lively neighborhoods to scenic areas. If you’re in San Francisco for a few days, check out some of our favorite spots.
EXPLORE THE CITY
Chinatown — A place of beginning for many Chinese immigrants, San Francisco is home to North America’s oldest Chinatown. Spend some time wandering the streets of this neighborhood and you’ll discover many stores, restaurants, and food markets. The main commercial streets are Stockton Street and Grant Avenue, which have plenty to explore, but you’ll discover even more if you venture a little deeper, visiting some side streets and alleyways. One such street is Waverly Place, where you’ll find Tin How Temple, one of the oldest Chinese temples in the United States. In the heart of Chinatown, enjoy egg tarts and other traditional sweets at Golden Gate Bakery on Grant Avenue. To learn more about the Chinese immigrant experience in the U.S., visit the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum. If you’re lucky enough to visit during Chinese New Year or the Autumn Moon Festival, you’ll have the chance to experience lively celebrations with parades, dances, food, and entertainment.
Union Square — A great place for shopping enthusiasts and those who enjoy fast-paced, upscale areas, Union Square is the main commercial area of San Francisco. There, you’ll find an array of luxury shops, theaters, hotels, restaurants, and galleries. Thespians will enjoy American Conservatory Theater, a non-profit theater company, and ice cream lovers can appreciate the Museum of Ice Cream. Union Square is also known for the Cable Car Turnaround at Market and Powell Streets. Taking a cable car is a great — and popular — way to experience San Francisco and catch some incredible views of the city, and seeing the cable car turnaround is an experience in itself.
Mission District — For a lively experience, visit the Mission District, an interesting, multicultural area of the city. It’s known for its restaurants, such as Taquería Cancún, a popular place to grab a burrito (or three), and Foreign Cinema, a restaurant featuring evolving menus, oysters, champagne, and nightly foreign and independent films in the outdoor courtyard. The district is also recognized for Mission Dolores, the oldest building in San Francisco. Established in 1776, many travelers visit the Mission to see its gardens and cemeteries. The Mission also provides docent-led tours. Another popular location is Dolores Park, which offers gorgeous views of downtown. The area was once home to a large Latino population, and though it has declined, there are still many Latino residents. To appreciate Chicano/Latino art, visit Galería de la Raza.
ADMIRE STUNNING VIEWS
California Street — California Street is the kind of location Instagrammers dream of. It’s one of the longest streets in San Francisco, beginning at the Financial District and running to Lincoln Park, traveling through Chinatown and Nob Hill. To fully experience the street, you can take the California cable car route.
Twin Peaks — The amazing views this location offers make it a must-visit spot during your time in San Francisco. The two adjacent peaks provide views of the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown, Angel Island, and more. Many go to the north peak parking lot for views of the city. From anywhere on top of the Twin Peaks, you’ll have an incredible view, but to get the full experience, take some time to explore. Hike the trails across the peaks to enjoy the wildlife this location has to offer.
Helicopter Ride — If you’re looking for a fun, adventurous way to see the city, you can admire it from a helicopter. Various companies, such as San Francisco Helicopter Tours, and Bay Aerial, offer helicopter tours with different routes to choose from. By flying high above some of your favorite sights, you’ll experience them from a new perspective.
Lombard Street — This street is known for being one of the steepest and most crooked in the United States. The famous section is in the Russian Hill neighborhood, which features eight sharp turns that make for interesting photo opportunities. There are many mansions in the area and in the spring, you’ll also see lots of flowers blooming.
WANDER ALONG THE WATERFRONT
Embarcadero — Walk (or bike) along the Embarcadero waterfront and stop by a variety of piers, parks, and restaurants. You’ll pass the iconic Ferry Building, which houses many shops, restaurants, and food stalls. Also stop by the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, a restored Liberty ship and living museum at Pier 45. Another popular location is Pier 39, which features shopping, dining, and live entertainment. For sustainable seafood, visit Fog Harbor Fish House at Pier 39, which also offers a great view overlooking the water. Dessert lovers can walk to the end of the Embarcadero to visit Ghirardelli Square, which features various shops and restaurants.
Fisherman’s Wharf — One of the city’s most popular attractions, if not the most popular, is Fisherman’s Wharf. With historic ships, seafood restaurants, a variety of shops and myriad entertainment options, there’s something for everyone here. Learn about sea lions at the Sea Lion Center, experience maritime history at San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, enjoy theatre, music, comedy performances, and so much more. Many visitors arrive at Fisherman’s Wharf by ferry, or explore the Bay on a ferry. You can also take a boat from Fisherman’s Wharf to Alcatraz Island and Angel Island.
Crissy Field — Crissy Field was transformed from a former military airfield into a beautiful environmental area where you’ll find beaches and picnic tables. Perfect for walking, biking, or just relaxing, the promenade offers beautiful views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge at any time of day.
With so much to experience in San Francisco, you’ll find many attractions that suit your interests! Ever been? Let us know which destinations in this city are your favorite.