Friday, June 1, 2012

San Francisco Tourism | San Francisco Attractions | San Francisco Hotels

San Francisco Tourism | San Francisco Attractions | San Francisco Hotels

San Francisco Tourism
San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.5 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland. The only consolidated city-county in California, it encompasses a land area of about 46.9 square miles (121 km2) on the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula, giving it a density of about 17,179 people per square mile (6,632 people per km2). It is the most densely settled large city (population greater than 200,000) in the state of California and the second-most densely populated large city in the United States after New York City. San Francisco is the fourth most populous city in California and the 13th most populous city in the United States, with a population of 805,235 as of the 2010 Census. The San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont metropolitan area has a population of 4,335,391.

San Francisco Tourism
In 1776, colonists from Spain established a fort at the Golden Gate and a mission named for Francis of Assisi on the site. The California Gold Rush of 1849 propelled the city into a period of rapid growth, increasing the population in one year from 1,000 to 25,000, and thus transforming it into the largest city on the West Coast at the time. After three-quarters of the city was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco was quickly rebuilt, hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition nine years later. During World War II, San Francisco was the port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater. After the war, the confluence of returning servicemen, massive immigration, liberalizing attitudes, and other factors (Vietnam) led to the Summer of Love and the gay rights movement, cementing San Francisco as a center of liberal activism in the United States.

Today, San Francisco is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, ranking 35th out of the 100 most visited cities worldwide, and is renowned for its chilly summer fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of architecture, and its famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, and Chinatown. The city is also a principal banking and finance center, and the home to more than 30 international financial institutions, helping to make San Francisco rank 18th in the world's top producing cities, eighth in the United States, and ninth place in the top twenty global financial centers.

San Francisco Geography

San Francisco is located on the West Coast of the United States at the tip of the San Francisco Peninsula and includes significant stretches of the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay within its boundaries. Several islands—Alcatraz, Treasure Island and the adjacent Yerba Buena Island, and a small portion of Alameda Island, Red Rock Island, and Angel Island are part of the city. Also included are the uninhabited Farallon Islands, 27 miles (43 km) offshore in the Pacific Ocean. The mainland within the city limits roughly forms a "seven-by-seven-mile square," a common local colloquialism referring to the city's shape, though its total area, including water, is nearly 232 square miles (600 km2).

San Francisco is famous for its hills. There are more than 50 hills within city limits. Some neighborhoods are named after the hill on which they are situated, including Nob Hill, Pacific Heights, and Russian Hill. Near the geographic center of the city, southwest of the downtown area, are a series of less densely populated hills. Twin Peaks, a pair of hills resting at one of the city's highest points, forms a popular overlook spot. San Francisco's tallest hill, Mount Davidson, is 925 feet (282 m) high and is capped with a 103-foot (31 m) tall cross built in 1934. Dominating this area is Sutro Tower, a large red and white radio and television transmission tower.

The nearby San Andreas and Hayward Faults are responsible for much earthquake activity, although neither physically passes through the city itself. The San Andreas Fault caused the earthquakes in 1906 and 1989. Minor earthquakes occur on a regular basis. The threat of major earthquakes plays a large role in the city's infrastructure development. The city has repeatedly upgraded its building codes, requiring retrofits for older buildings and higher engineering standards for new construction. However, there are still thousands of smaller buildings that remain vulnerable to quake damage.

San Francisco's shoreline has grown beyond its natural limits. Entire neighborhoods such as the Marina and Hunters Point, as well as large sections of the Embarcadero, sit on areas of landfill. Treasure Island was constructed from material dredged from the bay as well as material resulting from tunneling through Yerba Buena Island during the construction of the Bay Bridge. Such land tends to be unstable during earthquakes; the resultant liquefaction causes extensive damage to property built upon it, as was evidenced in the Marina district during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

San Francisco Climate

A popular quote incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain is "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." San Francisco's climate is characteristic of the cool-summer Mediterranean climate of California’s coast, "generally characterized by moist mild winters and dry summers." Since it is surrounded on three sides by water, San Francisco's weather is strongly influenced by the cool currents of the Pacific Ocean, which moderates temperature swings and produces a remarkably mild year-round climate with little seasonal temperature variation.

Among major U.S. cities, San Francisco has the coldest daily mean, maximum, and minimum temperatures for June, July and August. During the summer, rising hot air in California's interior valleys creates a low pressure area that draws winds from the North Pacific High through the Golden Gate, which creates the city's characteristic cool winds and fog. The fog is less pronounced in eastern neighborhoods and during the late summer and early fall, which is the warmest time of the year.

Because of its sharp topography and maritime influences, San Francisco exhibits a multitude of distinct microclimates. The high hills in the geographic center of the city are responsible for a 20% variance in annual rainfall between different parts of the city. They also protect neighborhoods directly to their east from the foggy and sometimes very cold and windy conditions experienced in the Sunset District; for those who live on the eastern side of the city, San Francisco is sunnier, with an average of 260 clear days, and only 105 cloudy days per year.

Temperatures exceed 75 °F (24 °C) on average only 28 days a year. The dry period of May to October is mild to warm, with average high temperatures of 64–71 °F (18–22 °C) and lows of 51–56 °F (11–13 °C). The rainy period of November to April is slightly cooler, with high temperatures of 58–64 °F (14–18 °C) and lows of 46–51 °F (8–11 °C). On average, there are 67 rainy days a year, and annual precipitation averages 20.4 inches (518.16 mm). Snow is extraordinarily rare, with only 10 instances recorded since 1852, most recently in 1976.

The highest recorded temperature at the official National Weather Service office was 103 °F (39 °C) on July 17, 1988, and June 14, 2000. The lowest recorded temperature was 27 °F (-3 °C) on December 11, 1932. The U.S. National Weather Service provides a helpful visual aid graphing the information in the table below to display visually by month the annual typical temperatures, the past year's temperatures, and record temperatures.

San Francisco Weather

San Francisco Attractions

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the opening of the San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean. As part of both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1, the structure links the city of San Francisco, on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, to Marin County. It is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and of the United States. It has been declared one of the modern Wonders of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Frommers travel guide considers the Golden Gate Bridge "possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world".

Before the bridge was built, the only practical short route between San Francisco and what is now Marin County was by boat across a section of San Francisco Bay. Ferry service began as early as 1820, with regularly scheduled service beginning in the 1840s for purposes of transporting water to San Francisco. The Sausalito Land and Ferry Company service, launched in 1867, eventually became the Golden Gate Ferry Company, a Southern Pacific Railroad subsidiary, the largest ferry operation in the world by the late 1920s. Once for railroad passengers and customers only, Southern Pacific's automobile ferries became very profitable and important to the regional economy. The ferry crossing between the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco and Sausalito in Marin County took approximately 20 minutes and cost US$1.00 per vehicle, a price later reduced to compete with the new bridge. The trip from the San Francisco Ferry Building took 27 minutes.

Lombard Street

Lombard Street is an east–west street in San Francisco, California. It is famous for having a steep, one-block section that consists of eight tight hairpin turns.

Lombard Street begins at Presidio Boulevard inside The Presidio and runs east through the Cow Hollow neighborhood. For 12 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 and Telegraph Hill neighborhoods, breaks off at a point becoming Telegraph Hill Boulevard. That leads 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. 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% grade, which was too steep for most vehicles. It is also a serious hazard to pedestrians, who are accustomed to a more reasonable sixteen-degree incline. The crooked section of the street, which is about 1/4 mile (400 m) 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 (8 km/h).

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.

Famous past residents of Lombard Street include Rowena Meeks Abdy, an early California painter who worked in the style of Impressionism.

Coit Tower

Coit Tower is a 210-foot (64 m) tower in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, California. The tower, in the city's Pioneer Park, was built in 1933 at the request of Lillie Hitchcock Coit to beautify the city of San Francisco; Coit bequeathed one-third of her estate to the city "to be expended in an appropriate manner for the purpose of adding to the beauty of the city which I have always loved".

The art deco tower, made of unpainted reinforced concrete, was designed by architects Arthur Brown, Jr. and Henry Howard, with fresco murals by 27 different on-site artists and their numerous assistants, plus two additional paintings installed after creation off-site.

The tower was not designed to resemble a fire hose nozzle, despite Coit's affinity with the San Francisco firefighters of the day, in particular with Knickerbocker Engine Company Number 5.


San Francisco's Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia. Since its establishment in 1848, 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.

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf is a neighborhood and popular tourist attraction in San Francisco, California. It roughly encompasses the northern waterfront area of San Francisco from Ghirardelli Square or Van Ness Avenue east to Pier 35 or Kearny Street. The F Market streetcar runs through the area, the Powell-Hyde cable car lines runs to Aquatic Park, at the edge of Fisherman's Wharf, and the Powell-Mason cable car line runs a few blocks away.

One of the busiest and well known tourist attractions in the western United States, Fisherman's Wharf is best known for being the location of Pier 39, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, the Cannery Shopping Center, Ghirardelli Square, a Ripley's Believe it or Not museum, the Musée Mécanique, the Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf, Forbes Island and restaurants and stands that serve fresh seafood, most notably Dungeness crab and clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl. Some of the restaurants, like Pompei's Grotto and Alioto's #8, go back for three generations of the same family ownership. Nearby Pier 45 has a chapel in memory of the "Lost Fishermen" of San Francisco and Northern California.

Other attractions in Fisherman's Wharf area are the Hyde Street Pier which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the USS Pampanito, a decommissioned World War II era submarine, and the Balclutha, a 19th century cargo ship.

Fisherman's Wharf plays host to many San Francisco events, including a world-class fireworks display for Fourth of July, and some of the best views of the Fleet Week air shows.

One of the city's most popular figures is a harmless but controversial resident of Fisherman's Wharf called the World Famous Bushman, a local street performer who sits behind some branches and startles people who walk by. He has gained notoriety during the 30 years he has been doing this.

In 1985, the wharf was used as a filming location in the James Bond film A View to a Kill, where Bond (played for the last time by Roger Moore) met with CIA agent Chuck Lee (David Yip) in his quest to eliminate the villain of the film, Max Zorin (Christopher Walken).

Mission San Francisco de Asís

Mission San Francisco de Asís, or Mission Dolores, is the oldest surviving structure in San Francisco and the sixth religious settlement established as part of the California chain of missions. The Mission was founded on June 29, 1776, by Lieutenant José Joaquin Moraga and Father Francisco Palóu (a companion of Father Junipero Serra), both members of the de Anza Expedition, which had been charged with bringing Spanish settlers to Alta (upper) California, and evangelizing the local Natives, the Ohlone.

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island is an island located in the San Francisco Bay, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) offshore from San Francisco, California, United States. Often referred to as "The Rock", the small island was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison, and a Federal Bureau of Prisons federal prison until March 21, 1963. Beginning in November 1969, the island was occupied for more than 19 months by a group of American Indians from San Francisco who were part of a wave of Indian activism across the nation with public 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 operated 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 in San Francisco. In 2008 the nation's first hybrid propulsion ferry started serving the island.

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park, located in San Francisco, California, is a large urban park consisting of 1,017 acres (412 ha) of public grounds. Configured as a rectangle, it is similar in shape but 20% larger than Central Park in New York, to which it is often compared. It is over three miles (5 km) long east to west, and about half a mile north to south. With 13 million visitors annually, Golden Gate is the third most visited city park in the United States after Central Park in New York City and Lincoln Park in Chicago.

Major Attractions in Golden Gate Park

Kezar Stadium

Kezar Stadium is a stadium located adjacent to Kezar Pavilion in the southeastern corner of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California. It is the former home of the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders (for one season) of the NFL, and of the San Francisco Dragons of MLL. It also served as the home of the California Victory of the USL First Division before the club folded. It also hosts amateur and recreation sports leagues, as well as numerous San Francisco high school football games (including the City Championship, known popularly as the "Turkey Bowl").

Conservatory of Flowers

The Conservatory of Flowers is a greenhouse and botanical garden that houses a collection of rare and exotic plants in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California. With construction completed in 1878, it remains the oldest building in the park, and the oldest municipal wooden conservatory remaining in the United States. It is also one of the first municipal conservatories constructed in the country. For these distinctions and for its associated historical, architectural, and engineering merits, the Conservatory of Flowers is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the California Register of Historical Places, is a California Historical Landmark, and a San Francisco Designated Landmark.

Japanese Tea Garden

The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco, California, is a popular feature of Golden Gate Park, originally built as part of a sprawling World's Fair, the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. For more than 20 years San Francisco Parks Trusts' Park Guides have given free tours to San Francisco Parks trust members, providing context and history for this historic Japanese-style garden.

The oldest public Japanese garden in the United States, this complex of many paths, ponds and a teahouse features native Japanese and Chinese plants. The gardens 5 acres (2.0 ha) contain many sculptures and bridges.

San Francisco Botanical Garden

The San Francisco Botanical Garden (formerly Strybing Arboretum) is a large botanical garden in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Its 55 acres (22.3 ha) include over 50,000 individual plants, representing over 8,000 taxa from around the world, with particular focus on Magnolia species, high elevation palms, and cloud forest species from Central America, South America and Southeast Asia.

Collections of Plants:

The gardens are organized into several specialized collections:


  • California native plants
  • John Muir Nature Trai
  • Redwood Trail
  • Chile
  • Cape Province (South Africa)
  • Australia
  • Mediterranean Basin Region

Mild-Temperate Climate

  • New Zealand
  • Moon-viewing Garden - a Japanese design
  • Takamine Garden - Asian plants
  • Temperate Asia Garden

Montane Tropic
  • Mesoamerican cloud forest
  • Southeast Asian cloud forest (opening date TBD)
  • Andean cloud forest (in development)

Specialty Collections
  • Ancient Plant Garden - cycads, etc.
  • Succulent garden
  • Dwarf Conifer garden
  • Demonstration Garden
  • Garden of Fragrance
  • Zellerbach Garden of Perennials
  • Dry Mexico
  • Rhododendron Garden
  • Magnolias & Camellias

The mild Mediterranean climate is ideal for plants from surprisingly many parts of the world; the arboretum does not include greenhouses for species requiring other climate types.

M. H. de Young Memorial Museum

The M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, commonly called simply the de Young Museum, is a fine arts museum located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. It is named for early San Francisco newspaperman M. H. de Young.

Transamerica Pyramid

The Transamerica Pyramid is the tallest skyscraper in the San Francisco skyline and one of its most iconic. Although the building no longer houses the headquarters of the Transamerica Corporation, it is still strongly associated with the company and is depicted in the company's logo. Designed by architect William Pereira and built by Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Company, at 260 m (850 ft), upon completion in 1972 it was among the five tallest buildings in the world.

The tower has no public access except for the first floor lobby, thus visitors cannot ascend to the top for a panoramic view.

San Francisco City Hall

San Francisco City Hall, re-opened in 1915, in its open space area in the city's Civic Center, is a Beaux-Arts monument to the City Beautiful movement that epitomized the high-minded American Renaissance of the 1880s to 1917. The structure's dome is the fifth largest in the world. The present building replaced an earlier City Hall that was completely destroyed during the 1906 earthquake.

The principal architect was Arthur Brown, Jr., of Bakewell & Brown, whose attention to the finishing details extended to the doorknobs and the typeface to be used in signage. Brown's blueprints of the building are preserved at the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. Brown also designed the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, Veterans Building, Temple Emanuel, Coit Tower and the Federal office building at 50 United Nations Plaza.

Pier 39

Pier 39 is a shopping center and popular tourist attraction built on a pier in San Francisco, California. At Pier 39, there are shops, restaurants, a video arcade, street performances, an interpretive center for the Marine Mammal Center, the Aquarium of the Bay, virtual 3D rides, and views of California sea lions hauled out on docks on Pier 39's marina. The marina is also home to the floating Forbes Island restaurant. A two-story carousel is one of the pier's more dominant features, although it is not directly visible from the street and sits towards the end of the pier. The family-oriented entertainment and presence of marine mammals make this a popular tourist location for families with kids.

The pier is located at the edge of the Fisherman's Wharf district and is close to North Beach, Chinatown, and the Embarcadero. The area is easily accessible via the historic F Market streetcars.

From the pier one can see Angel Island, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Bay Bridge. Blue & Gold Fleet's bay cruises leave from Pier 39.

Pier 39 was first developed by entrepreneur Warren Simmons and opened October 4, 1978.


Haight-Ashbury is a district of San Francisco, California, named for the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets. It is also called The Haight and The Upper Haight.

The district generally encompasses the neighborhood surrounding Haight Street, bounded by Stanyan Street and Golden Gate Park on the west, Oak Street and the Golden Gate Park Panhandle on the north, Baker Street and Buena Vista Park to the east and Frederick Street and Ashbury Heights and Cole Valley neighborhoods to the south.

The street names commemorate two early San Francisco leaders: Pioneer and exchange banker Henry Haight and Munroe Ashbury, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1864 to 1870. Both Haight and his nephew as well as Ashbury had a hand in the planning of the neighborhood, and, more importantly, nearby Golden Gate Park at its inception. The name "Upper Haight", used by locals, is in contrast to the Haight-Fillmore or Lower Haight district; the latter being lower in elevation and part of what was previously the principal African-American and Japanese neighborhoods in San Francisco's early years.

The Haight-Ashbury district is noted for its role as a center of the 1960s hippie movement. The earlier bohemians of the beat movement had congregated around San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood from the late 1950s. Many who could not find accommodation there turned to the quaint, relatively cheap and underpopulated Haight-Ashbury. The Summer of Love (1967), the 1960s era as a whole, and much of modern American counterculture have been synonymous with San Francisco and the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood ever since.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is a modern art museum located in San Francisco, California. A nonprofit organization, SFMOMA holds an internationally recognized collection of modern and contemporary art and was the first museum on the West Coast devoted solely to 20th century art. The museum’s current collection includes over 26,000 works of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design, and media arts. The building complex was designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta.

SFMOMA's Research Library was established in 1935 and contains extensive resources pertaining to modern and contemporary art, including books, periodicals, artists’ files, and lecture recordings. The museum also houses a restaurant, Caffè Museo, and a coffee bar run by the Blue Bottle Coffee Company.

Twin Peaks

The Twin Peaks are two hills with an elevation of about 922 feet (281 m) near the geographic center of San Francisco, California. Except for Mount Davidson, they are the highest points in the city.

The North and South Twin Peaks are about 660 ft (200 m) apart; Twin Peaks Boulevard runs a figure eight around them. The peaks form a divide for the summer coastal fog pushed in from the Pacific Ocean. Their west-facing slopes often get fog and strong winds, while the east-facing slopes receive more sun and warmth. Elevation at each summit is just over 900 feet (270 m). Thin, sandy soil is commonplace on Twin Peaks, making them susceptible to erosion.

Before the arrival of the Europeans, the native Ohlone people may have used Twin Peaks as a lookout or hunting ground. The ecological diversity of Twin Peaks provided medicinal or ceremonial plants, grains and berries. When the Spanish conquistadors and settlers arrived at the beginning of the 18th century, they called the area "Los Pechos de la Chola" or "Breasts of the Indian Maiden" and devoted the area to ranching. When San Francisco passed under American control during the 19th century, it was renamed "Twin Peaks".

5 Star hotels in San Francisco
  • Hotel Vitale
  • Fairmont Heritage Place Ghirardelli Square
  • Mandarin Oriental San Francisco
  • The St. Regis San Francisco
  • The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco
  • Four Seasons San Francisco

Budget San Francisco Hotels
  • Grant Plaza Hotel
  • Best Western Grosvenor Hotel
  • Travelodge Central
  • Alexis Park San Francisco
  • Ramada Limited San Francisco Lombard Street
  • Alpine Inn And Suites
  • Monarch Hotel
  • Hotel Boheme