10 Things You Didn’t Know About … San Francisco

Check out these top 10 things to do in San Francisco.
There is plenty to do in San Francisco.
  1. Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)

You could pay too much money for an airport shuttle or taxi, if you like, or you can ride the train from San Francisco or Oakland International Airports to any of 43 stations in the Bay Area for less than $10.

BART’s 3.6-mile-long (5.7 km) Transbay Tube along the floor of the San Francisco Bay is the longest underwater tube for rapid transit in the world. More importantly, BART is incredibly convenient for the car-less traveler; spare yourself the trouble of trying to drive around San Francisco and take public transportation, instead.

  1. Jazz at Pearl’s

Kick back in 1930s-style Jazz at Pearl’s, and let the syncopation of world-class jazz take you away. While San Francisco ’s premier jazz club is open to all ages, it’s best experienced as a romantic evening for two. Tickets for this intimate North Beach club sell out quickly, so get them well in advance.

  1. Electric Tour Company

The Segway is the hippest set of wheels in town. The Electric Tour Company offers day and night tours on these self-balancing and self-propelled two-wheel scooters, a unique way to see San Francisco’s waterfront, from Fisherman’s Wharf to the St. Francis and Golden Gate yacht clubs, a few miles up the coast. A brief training session will soon have you as comfortable on the Segway “human transporter” as on your own two feet.

  1. Boudin at the Wharf

Boudin Bakery, which has been making the Original San Francisco Sourdough French Bread since the historic Gold Rush of 1849, opened a new flagship location at Fisherman’s Wharf in May, 2005. Dine at Bistro Boudin on the second floor, where you’ll have your choice from an extensive menu featuring classic American dishes and fresh, local catches.

At this location you can also take a Museum & Bakery Tour that features more than 150 years of company history in photos and interactive exhibits. Don’t miss the Demonstration Bakery and its observation window where you can watch as more than 10,000 loaves of bread are baked every day.

  1. Asian Art Museum

Chinatown isn’t the only place in San Francisco to experience a bit of Asia. With more than 16,000 pieces of art spanning 6,000 years, the Asian Art Museum is one of the largest museums of its kind in the United States.

See sculptures, paintings, scrolls and other artifacts that reflect major trends in religion and culture from throughout Asia. Admission is US$ 12 for adults. It’s free for children under 12, and discounts are available for senior citizens and students. Free, self-guided audio tours are provided, as well.

  1. Head to the Wine Country … in Healdsburg

Wine and dine in Napa and Sonoma. Less than 70 miles (112 km) north of San Francisco, in the California countryside, Healdsburg is surrounded by more than 60 wineries. Consider staying at The George Alexander House, a quiet bed and breakfast downtown that’s within walking distance of five different tasting rooms.

And if you’d like to pedal your way through the surrounding valleys, check out the bike-rental shop Spoke Folk Cyclery, only a few blocks away.

  1. Alcatraz Night Tour

So you’ve already been to San Francisco’s iconic island prison, Alcatraz. Consider a nighttime visit, which promises to be a whole new experience. The Alcatraz Night Tour offers a number of programs and activities that are unavailable during the day, such as learning details of famous gangster Al Capone’s stay in the slammer.

Limited to only a few hundred people each night (more than 4,000 often tour here during the day), the Night Tour gives you a more intimate, and more than a little creepy, experience with America’s most famous prison, as well as an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge silhouetted in the setting sun.

  1. The Presidio

Perfect for nature-lovers who need a break from the city, this 1,491-acre (6 km 2) national park site, converted from a long-standing Army post, will let you get away from it all without leaving San Francisco.

Run or bike the Anza Trail from Mountain Lake to the Golden Gate Bridge; picnic at El Polin Spring or barbeque at Baker Beach; explore the 300-acre (1.2 km²) historic forest, with non-native trees planted as early as the 1880s; or stroll down one of the park’s oldest walking trails, Lover’s Lane. The Presidio is a beautiful place for visitors of all ages to feel the grass between their travel-weary toes.

  1. Cornell Hotel de France

Cornell Hotel de France, at the foot of Nob Hill, is a family-owned hotel that provides the type of stay you’d expect to find in France, for rates as low as US$ 80 a night. The Restaurant Jeanne D’Arc serves traditional French four-course dinners from a menu that changes daily.

  1. FOOT! Fun Walking Tours

Why listen to a dry lecture about the history of San Francisco from the back of a crowded bus when you can have a hilarious walking tour that fits your personal interests? FOOT! offers walking tours that explore the quirky side of San Francisco, led by professional comedians.

With tours such as Flashback, which explores the 1960s infamous hippie district Haight-Ashbury, or Hobnobbing with Gobs of Snobs, which will lead you through wealthy Nob Hill, there’s something here to tickle every funny bone. The best way to see San Francisco really is on FOOT!


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