San Francisco is a top vacation destination for good reason. From the architectural marvel of the Golden Gate Bridge to the infamous Alcatraz Island, it is a memorable city like no other. To get the true San Francisco experience, travelers should be certain to add the following to their itineraries:
1) Visit Alcatraz Island: Back in 1868, the federal government developed a military prison, military fortification, and a lighthouse on Alcatraz Island. However, it is the federal penitentiary that was built in the early 1930s and in use from 1934 to 1963 that piques public curiosity the most.
Some of the most notorious criminals in United States history did time at Alcatraz, including Al Capone. Those sent to Alcatraz were troublemakers at other prisons and officials wanted them in a place where they could not escape. Of 14 known escapes, none were successful. From 1969 to 1971, a group of Native Americans occupied the island to demand retribution for broken treaties by the federal government.
2) Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge: The Golden Gate Bridge opened to pedestrian and automobile traffic in May 1937. At 4,200 feet, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of its completion.
The bridge is named for the Golden Gate Strait, which provides an entrance to the San Francisco Bay by way of the Pacific Ocean. The bridge is one of the most photographed icons in the world. Pedestrians may access the East Sidewalk daily between 5:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
3) Eat Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl: Sourdough bread is widely associated with the city of San Francisco. The Boudin company is the oldest continuously running business in San Francisco and is known for their clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. This soup contains actual clams, thick broth, celery, onions, and diced potatoes. No visit to San Francisco is complete without dining on clam chowder served in a warm bread bowl.
4) Stroll through Chinatown: The neighborhood dubbed Chinatown is the largest area of Asian shops, restaurants, and attractions outside of an Asian country. San Francisco’s Chinatown also has the distinction of being the oldest one in North America. Shop and street signs are written in Chinese but include an English translation.
Hundreds of restaurants, from traditional Chinese eateries to modern-day coffee shops line the streets of Chinatown. Even the banks and churches were constructed to look like buildings in China. Vacationers can stroll the streets on their own or take part in a formal walking tour.
5) View the Attractions of Golden Gate Park: Golden Gate Park is a treasure for the locals and tourists alike. The Japanese Tea Garden, Conservatory of Flowers, windmills in the park, and Strybing Arboretum are a photographer’s dream.
There are also plenty of educational endeavors, including the California Academy of Sciences, De Young Museum, and the park’s own aquarium.
Hearing about these attractions secondhand or even viewing photos online pales in comparison to experiencing them in person. They deserve a place on any traveler’s bucket list.