AQUARIUM OF THE BAY
VIEW THE UNDERWATER WORLD OF THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY
Website • 0.5 mi
The Embarcadero at Beach St, San Francisco 415/623-5333
The Aquarium of the Bay is a public aquarium located at Embarcadero and Beach Street, at the edge of Pier 39 in San Francisco. The Aquarium focuses on local aquatic animals from the San Francisco Bay and neighboring waters.. A moving footpath will take you through clear acrylic tunnels, where you can view sharks, stingrays, and varied marine life living in the one-million gallon aquarium.
The Aquarium has over 50 sharks from species such as sevengill sharks, leopard sharks, soupfins, spiny dogfish, brown smoothhounds and angel sharks. The Aquarium also has skates, bat rays and thousands of other animals including eels, flatfish, rockfish, Wrasse, Gobies, Kelpfish, Pricklebacks, Ronquil, Sculpin and Sturgeons.
THE AQUARIUM IS DIVIDED INTO THREE PARTS:
Discover the Bay: This exhibit has a variety of satellite tanks containing animals such as moray eels, Bay Pipefish (the father pipefish gives birth to their young), garibaldi (the California state marine fish), and more.
Under the Bay: This is the aquarium’s largest exhibit. It includes 300 feet (91 m) of tunnels and features thousands of aquatic animals and other sea creatures. The exhibit is a recreation of the San Francisco Bay.
Touch the Bay: This exhibit lets visitors touch several types of animals including bat rays, skates, leopard sharks, sea stars, and sea cucumbers.
VISIT “THE ROCK” IN SAN FRANCISCO BAY
Alcatraz • 0.4 mi (to the ferry)
LOCATION: 41 Pier, San Francisco, CA 94133 415-705-5555
Alcatraz Island is located 1.5 miles from Fisherman’s Wharf. It is the site of the first lighthouse in the Western U.S., and was a penitentiary from 1934-1963. It is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and offers tours of the prison and views of the lighthouse. It is a good place to view gardens, tide pools, bird colonies, and wonderful views of the bay.
Often referred to as “The Rock,” the small island was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison (1868), and a federal prison from 1933 until 1963. Beginning in November 1969, the island was occupied for more than 19 months by a group of Native Americans from San Francisco who were part of a national wave of Native American protests through the 1970s. In 1972 Alcatraz became a national recreation area and received designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
Today, the island’s facilities are managed by the National Park Service as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area; it is open to tours. Visitors can reach the island by ferry ride from Pier 33, near Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco. Hornblower Cruises and Events, operating under the name Alcatraz Cruises, is the official ferry provider to and from the island. Hornblower launched the nation’s first hybrid propulsion ferry in 2008, the Hornblower Hybrid, which now serves the island, docking at the Alcatraz Wharf.
Alcatraz Island is home to the abandoned prison, the site of the oldest operating lighthouse on the west coast of the United States, early military fortifications, and natural features such as rock pools and a seabird colony (mostly Western Gulls, cormorants, and egrets). Landmarks on the island include the Main Cellhouse, Dining Hall, Library, Lighthouse, the ruins of the Warden’s House and Officers Club, Parade Grounds, Building 64, Water Tower, New Industries Building, Model Industries Building, and the Recreation Yard.
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia. Since its establishment in the 1840s, it has been highly important and influential in the history and culture of ethnic Chinese immigrants to the United States and North America. Chinatown is an active enclave that continues to retain its own customs, languages, places of worship, social clubs, and identity. Popularly known as a “city-within-a-city”, it has developed its own government, traditions, over 300 restaurants, and as many shops.
There are two hospitals, numerous parks and squares, a post office, and other infrastructure. Visitors can easily become immersed in a microcosmic Asian world, filled with herbal shops, temples, pagoda roofs and dragon parades. In addition to it being a starting point and home for thousands of Chinese immigrants, it is also a major tourist attraction – drawing more visitors annually to the neighborhood than the Golden Gate Bridge.
Chinatown offers a taste of Asian history and culture, with countless shops, delicious ethnic cuisine, open markets, museums and more. Celebrate the Chinese New Year in February.
Website • 0.5 miles
LOCATION: Fisherman’s Wharf roughly encompasses the northern waterfront area of San Francisco from Ghirardelli Square or Van Ness Avenue east to Pier 35 or Kearny Street.
Once a major fishing pier, Fisherman’s Wharf has become the most popular tourist attraction in San Francisco, with great views of the ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge and the city of San Francisco. The Wharf offers plenty to do, with seafood restaurants and shopping from one end to the other. One thing is for sure: There’s something for everyone at Fisherman’s Wharf: food, views, history, family fun and more.
Dining: A food lover’s haven, Fisherman’s Wharf boasts some of the best dining in the world. Salivate over fresh Dungeness crab served steaming hote at outdoor stands or in a variety of gourmet recipes at the Wharf’s many seafood restaurants. Smell the fresh sourdough bread baking. Savor locally made chocolate. The Wharf’s eclectic mix of international cuisine is sure to please.
Entertainment: During the day, street performers are here to tirelessly entertain you: magicians, mimes, musicians, jugglers, clowns and fire-eaters take pride in their efforts to make you feel welcome at Fisherman’s Wharf. At night the wharf offers live music, theater, dancing, comedy clubs and much more.
Alcatraz Island: Select the button to the right for details on Alcatraz Island.
Cable Cars: San Francisco is one of few places in the world where people can ride on a national historic landmark. Refurbished and equipped with new tracks, cables, turntables and cable propulsion machinery, San Francisco’s famed cable cards operate much as they did on August 2, 1873 when Andrew S. Hallidie guided the first car down the Clay Street grade. Two of the three cable car lines stop in Fisherman’s Wharf. Catch the Powell-Mason line at Taylor St. and Bay St., or the Powell-Hyde line at Hyde St. and Beach St.
Hyde Street Pier: Hyde Street Pier is home of the world’s largest collection of historic ships by tonnage, where visitors can board several National Landmark vessels, including the schooner Alma and the 1890 ferryboat Eureka. Hyde Street Pier also offers regular ranger guided tours, chantey sings, special programs and hands-on demonstrations for all ages.
Sea Lions: One of Fisherman’s Wharf’s most popular attractions, the amazing sea lions of PIER 39 hold huge appeal for visitors of all ages. Most of the year, you can find hundreds of these local sea mammals gathered on the docks beside PIER 39, cavorting, eating and basking in the sun. Their numbers vary depending on time of year, but their distinct barks can always be heard from blocks away.
Angel Island: The other island you see from Fisherman’s Wharf is Angel Island, one of the last undeveloped islands left in the San Francisco Bay. It is maintained by the National Park Service and can be used for biking, hiking and picnics. Additional information is available at www.angelisland.org.
GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE
THE WORLD’S MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BRIDGE
Website • 6.5 mi
LOCATION: Hwy 101 (Doyle Drive) and Hwy 1 (Park Presidio Blvd)
The Golden Gate Bridge is probably the most recognized bridge in the world, and a well-known symbol of San Francisco. It is the second longest suspension bridge in the United States, connecting the city of San Francisco to Marin County to the north. Millions of people cross the Golden Gate Bridge every year by driving, walking or biking. The graceful bridge, which spans 1-3/4 miles and reaches a height of 746 feet above the water, is one of the major attractions in San Francisco, attracting about nine million people each year.
VISITING THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE
The bridge is popular with pedestrians and bicyclists, and was built with walkways on either side of the six vehicle traffic lanes. Initially, they were separated from the traffic lanes by only a metal curb, but railings between the walkways and the traffic lanes were added in 2003, primarily as a measure to prevent bicyclists from falling into the roadway.
The main walkway is on the eastern side, and is open for use by both pedestrians and bicycles in the morning to mid-afternoon during weekdays (5 am to 3:30 pm), and to pedestrians only for the remaining daylight hours (until 6 pm, or 9 pm during DST). The eastern walkway is reserved for pedestrians on weekends (5 am to 6 pm, or 9 pm during DST), and is open exclusively to bicyclists in the evening and overnight, when it is closed to pedestrians. The western walkway is only open, and exclusively for bicyclists, during the hours when they are not allowed on the eastern walkway.
Bus service across the bridge is provided by two public transportation agencies: San Francisco Muni and Golden Gate Transit. Muni offers Sunday service on the 76 Marin Headlands bus line, and Golden Gate Transit runs numerous bus lines throughout the week. The southern end of the bridge, near the toll plaza and parking lot, is also accessible daily from 5:30 a.m. to midnight by Muni line 28.
GOLDEN GATE PARK: A NATIONAL PARK INSIDE CITY LIMITS
Website • 4.2 miles
LOCATION: Between Fulton Street (north), Lincoln Way (south), Stanyan Street (east) and Ocean Beach (west)
Golden Gate Park is a roughly 1/2 mile-by-four mile urban oasis, with windmills, bison, museums, lakes and a carousel hidden among its charms. At 1,017 acres, it is 174 acres larger than New York’s Central Park
Golden Gate Park is the third most visited park in the United States. While the park is free to visit during the day, popular attractions charge admission, such as deYoung Museum, California Academy of Sciences and Conservatory of Flowers. The park is filled with gardens, museums, art, flowers, trees, lakes, birds and wildlife. There are also plenty of opportunities to participate in sports, clubs and other activities.
During the summer to October, a free shuttle bus circulates the park. On Sundays and holidays, JFK Drive between Transverse and Kezar is closed to vehicular traffic; this car-free zone is popular with walkers, cyclists, and runners. The number 5 trolleybus runs along the park’s north boundary (Fulton Street), and offers the most frequent service across the park and to downtown. The N streetcar runs two blocks south of the park’s southern boundary with similar service as the 5 bus.
This unique park features a golf course, an many other popular attractions that include:
Beach Chalet and Park Chalet: Beautiful 1930s building, the Beach Chalet is open for lunch, drinks, or dinner overlooking Ocean Beach .
Buffalo Paddock: This herd of buffalo has been here for over a century. Free.
California Academy of Sciences: Stunning museum is an excellent place to take the children. Highlights include the building itself; ride the elevator to the top to see the Living Roof, a literal green roof and marvel of architecture.
Conservatory of Flowers: This antique palatial greenhouse, one of the first structures of its kind in the county, is filled with a huge variety of beautiful and exotic plant species.
de Young Museum: A modern and ethnic art focused museum, with three levels of fascinating exhibits with contemporary and historical pieces from America as well as art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas in a uniquely-designed building with courtyards and sculpture gardens.
Dutch Windmill: Once used for park irrigation; now a scenic oddity at the western end of the park.
Japanese Tea Garden: The oldest public Japanese garden in the country, with beautiful plants, ponds, bridges, and Japanese-style structures including a tea house.
San Francisco Botanical Gardens: One of the largest botanical gardens on the west coast, covering 55 acres with thousands of varieties of plants from around the world and multiple specialized gardens and miles of trails. Free.
Shakespeare Garden: With roses and other flowers mentioned in his plays. Free.
Spreckels Lake: Home of the San Francisco Model Yacht Club, one is likely to see model yachts sailing on the lake.
Stow Lake: This pleasant lake surrounding Strawberry Hill, a scenic island with excellent views and great picnic spots.
JAPANTOWN: LITTLE OSAKA IN SAN FRANCISCO
Websitte • 2.4 mi
LOCATION: In the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco, comprising about six square city blocks.
Japantown (also known as Little Osaka, Funayville, or J Town) comprises about six square city blocks. San Francisco’s Japantown is the largest and oldest such enclave in the U.S. The main thoroughfare is Post Street, between Fillmore Street (to the west) and Laguna Street (to the east). The Japantown neighborhood is generally considered to be bordered on the north by Bush or Pine Street, and on the south by Geary Boulevard. Its focal point is the Japan Center, the site of three Japanese-oriented shopping centers and the Peace Pagoda, a five-tiered concrete stupa presented to San Francisco by the people of Osaka, Japan.
The area is home to Japanese (and some Korean and Chinese) restaurants, supermarkets, indoor shopping malls, hotels, banks and other shops, including one of the few U.S. branches of the large Kinokuniya bookstore chain. Most of these businesses are located in the commercial center of the neighborhood which is a large shopping mall built in the 1960s as part of urban renewal efforts and is run by Japanese retailer Kintetsu.
Built and settled as part of the Western Addition neighborhood in the 19th and early 20th century, Japanese immigrants began moving into the area following the 1906 Earthquake. By World War II, the neighborhood was one of the largest such enclaves of Japanese outside of Japan, taking an appearance similar to Tokyo’s Ginza district.
In February 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered all Japanese of birth or descent in the U.S. interned. By 1943 many large sections of the neighborhood remained vacant due to the forced internment. The void was quickly filled by thousands of African Americans who had left the South to find wartime industrial jobs in California. After the war, some Japanese Americans returned, followed by new Japanese immigrants as well as investment from the Japanese Government and Japanese companies, however, many settled in other parts of the city.
In 1957, San Francisco entered into a sister city relationship with the city of Osaka, hence the nickname “Little Osaka”. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of this relationship, one block of Buchanan Street, in Japantown, was renamed Osaka Way in 2007.
San Francisco’s Japantown celebrates two major festivals yearly: The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival (held for two weekends every April), and the Nihonmachi Street Fair, held one weekend in the month of August.
THE CROOKEDEST STREET IN THE WORLD
Websitte • 0.6 mi
LOCATION:Between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets
Lombard Street runs east-west through many blocks in San Francisco, but it is famous for one block on Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets. This block is steep and hilly, with eight tight hairpin curves. It is paved with bricks, and every curve is lined with beautiful flower gardens. There are beautiful Victorian mansions on either side of the street, making it very picturesque. This one-way section of Lombard street is a must-see for anyone visiting San Francisco.
Lombard Street begins at Presidio Boulevard inside The Presidio and runs east through the Cow Hollow neighborhood. For twelve blocks, between Broderick Street and Van Ness Avenue, it is a principal arterial road that is co-signed as U.S. Route 101. Lombard Street then continues through the Russian Hill neighborhood and onto the Telegraph Hill neighborhood. At Telegraph Hill it breaks off to the south, becoming Telegraph Hill Boulevard, leading to Pioneer Park and Coit Tower. Lombard Street starts again at Winthrop Street and finally terminates at The Embarcadero as a collector road.
Lombard Street is best known for the one-way section on Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets, in which the roadway has eight sharp turns (or switchbacks) that have earned the street the distinction of being the crookedest (most winding) street in the world (though this title is contested. The switchback’s design, first suggested by property owner Carl Henry and instituted in 1922, was born out of necessity in order to reduce the hill’s natural 27 degree (51%) grade, which was too steep for most vehicles. It is also a serious hazard to pedestrians, who are accustomed to a more reasonable 5 degree incline because of wheel chair navigation concerns. The crooked section of the street, which is about 1/4 mile long is reserved for one-way traffic traveling east (downhill) and is paved with red bricks. The speed limit in this section is 5 mph.
In 1999, a Crooked Street Task Force was created to try to solve traffic problems in the neighborhoods around the winding section of Lombard Street. In 2001, the Task Force decided that it would not be legal to permanently close the block to vehicular traffic. Instead, the Task Force decided to institute a summer parking ban in the area, to bar eastbound traffic on major holidays, and to increase fines for parking in the area. The Task Force also proposed the idea of using minibuses to ferry sightseers to the famous block, although residents debated the efficiency of such a solution, since one of the attractions of touring the area is driving along the twisting section of the street.
The Powell-Hyde cable car line stops at the top of this block.
PRESIDIO: A NATIONAL PARK INSIDE CITY LIMITS
Website • 4.4 miles
LOCATION: Northern tip of San Francisco Peninsula within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area
This lovely waterfront area park has been a fortified location since 1776 when the Spanish made it the military center. As part of a military reduction program, Congress voted in 1989 to end the Presidio’s status as an active military installation and in October 1994, it was transferred to the National Park Service, ending 219 years of military use.
Residents of Bay Area have a unique and stunning resource in the Presidio, a national park within the boundaries of our city. Several restaurants have opened on Presidio land, and old military structures house both commercial and non-profit entities. The Presidio is home to wild plant and animal species, hiking trails, and waterfront habitat.
The Presidio is open 24 hours, every day of the week. No fees are required to enter the park. You can access the Presidio’s restaurants, trails, and businesses by car, foot or public transport. Detailed driving and transit directions and information on the free PresidiGo shuttle are all available from the Presidio Trust website.
FIVE DISTRICTS EMBODY DIFFERENT PERIODS OF HISTORY:
Crissy Field: As the Presidio’s “front door,” the northern waterfront offers spectacular views, unparalleled recreational opportunities, and the chance to glimpse rare birds feeding on native plants.
Fort Winfield Scott: Located just a stone’s throw from the Golden Gate Bridge, this beautiful campus, once dedicated to defending San Francisco Bay, introduced Mission style architecture to the Presidio. Fort Scott offers amazing views and is situated near several trails and scenic overlooks.
Letterman District: It was here that the Army built its first permanent general hospital, serving military personnel during a century that included five wars. Here visitors can connect with important stories about the Presidio’s history and enjoy unique views toward San Francisco Bay, the Palace of Fine Arts, and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Main Post: A visit to the park begins at the Main Post, historically the beloved “heart of the Presidio.” There are many ways to experience the Main Post today, and so much more will open to the public in coming months.
Public Health Service District: An increasingly popular entry point to the trail network, offering easy access to the wildest parts of the park.
PRESIDIO TRAILS & OVERLOOKS
Explore the Presidio on the park’s extensive hiking and biking trail network. With 24 miles of routes and eight scenic overlooks and vistas, experiences are available to suit any mood. Enjoy a history walk that traces the heart of the Presidio, a contemplative journey through a shaded forest, or a major workout along the coastal bluffs.
SAN FRANCISCO ZOO
Website • 10.7 miles
LOCATION: 1 Zoo Road, San Francisco, CA. 94132 (415) 753-7080
The San Francisco Zoo is located between the Pacific Ocean and Lake Merced, in the southwest corner of San Francisco. Founded in 1929, the zoo covers over 125 acres. This zoo is the birthplace of Koko the gorilla, and housed 693 individual animals representing about 197 species as of 2011.
An African Savanna exhibit opened in May of 2004, which features giraffes, zebras, antelope, and birds from Africa; and in 2002, the Lipman Family Lemur Forest opened, which features five different species of lemurs from Madagascar. There are many other exhibits, including a Children’s zoo, where children and their families see and touch domestic rare breeds of goats, sheep, ponies, and horses in the Family Farm, touch small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians along the Nature Trail, and view the eagles and hawks on Hawk Hill.
The Insect Zoo opened in 1979 and features terrariums containing live arthropods, including millipedes, centipedes, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, tarantulas, scorpions, velvet ants, termites, walkingsticks and bees. Visitors can examine specimens under microscopes, and there are insect-themed books, videos, puppets and games.
The 6-acre Children’s Zoo offers kids and their families opportunities for close-up encounters with rare domestic breeds of goats, sheep, ponies, and horses in the Family Farm. Touch and feel small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians along the Nature Trail and gaze at eagles and hawks stationed on Hawk Hill. Don’t miss a visit to the fascinating Insect Zoo or the Meerkat and Prairie Dog exhibit, where kids can crawl through tunnels and play in sand, just like these amazing burrowing species.
There’s a coffee cart by the entrance as well as two decent cafes inside, definitely good enough for a bite with the kids (though the lines can be long and slightly confusing if you’re handling food and kid duty at the same time).
OTHER MAJOR BAY AREA ATTRACTIONS
The Embarcadero • 1.4 miles
LOCATION: 201 the Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111
Scenic waterfront with deep-water piers, scenic promenades and ferry service. Upscale shops, dining and a farmers market also available.
Coit Tower • 0.7 miles
1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94133, (415) 362-0808
The Coit Tower is a 210-foot concrete building located at the top of Telegraph Hill. It was built in 1933 as an art deco tower to beautify the city of San Francisco. Visitors can enjoy the history museum located inside and view the many murals painted in 1933 by over 30 artists depicting life during the Great Depression. From the top of the tower, there is a 360 view of San Francisco and the Bay area.
Union Street • 0.9 miles
This charming neighborhood features Victorian homes that have been transformed into boutiques, galleries, restaurants and cafés. Attractions include the Octagon House and the Vedanta Temple.
Marina District • 1.4 miles
The Marina offers access to San Francisco Bay and Marina Green, a grassy playground with views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The area includes the Palace of Fine Arts and bustling Chestnut Street. The Marina district is an affluent, residential neighborhood bounded by the Bay, the neighborhood actually has an impressive marina, which is home to a couple of prestigious yacht clubs. Marina Green, an 8 block stretch of grass running along the edge of the bay, is a favorite place for jogging, strolling, picnicking, and kite flying.