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Top 5 things to do in San Francisco

I heart San Francisco! It’s kind of like a little town, when compared to the vastly sprawling city of Los Angeles a few hours down the road.

Haight-Ashbury for hippydom

Haight-Ashbury for hippydom

Yet San Fran is a booming city with loads of culture, talented buskers (I saw a Birman cat begging with a cup in front of it once!), a stunning bay with the Golden Gate Bridge at one end and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bay Bridge at the other and Napa and Sonoma Valleys surrounding it.

And then there’s the shopping – Union Square with Macy’s as its flagship, and all the other big brands and posh boutiques dotted in side streets and alleys …

So here’s my list of the Top 5 things to do in San Francisco:

1. Take the F-Line tram down to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 from Union Square and browse along the pier. You’ll smell the sea lions before you see them, basking on floating pontoons in the marina. Browse the souvenir shops and eat a bowl of clam chowder served in a huge sour dough bun.

2. Take one of the tour boats and go out to Alcatraz Prison where former inmates (now reformed) are likely to be there flogging a book and who will happily tell you about their exploits. Walk around the somber prison cells and hear the stories of how and why the likes of Al “Scarface” Capone, and the “Birdman” Robert Stroud ended up at The Rock between 1934 and 1963 on an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

Cailfornia of Sciences Museum roof!

Cailfornia of Sciences Museum roof!

3. Take the bus or tram up through the hippy district of Haight-Ashbury and on to the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. This is an eco complex with grass and flowers growing on the roof, an albino crocodile blindly (literally) playing in a pond, an aquarium with 40,000 piscine critters, and fascinating exhibits of plant life and tidbits to win a game of Trival Pursuit with.

4. Hire a bike and cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito (1.7 miles) and get the ferry back. Sausalito is an artsy little boutique neighbourhood with great views across to the city.

5. Shop the side streets around Union Square, Market and Powell Streets then have lunch on the rooftop of Macy’s at the Cheesecake Factory – which serves a WHOLE lot more than cheescake. In fact I promise, you won’t need dinner.

Residents of Pier 39

Residents of Pier 39

And here’s another useful link, if you want to check out the sights of San Fran and get some heavy discounts, have a look at Citypass. It’s a prepaid booklet with 50% savings on riding the cable cars, visiting the Science Museum, taking a Bay cruise, Aquarium admission, Museum of Modern Art entry and more. Jump here to the San Francisco CityPass to see what you’ll get and how much you’ll pay. You can buy online and print it out too.

Click here for my picks for best cocktail bars in San Francisco >>>



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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!