O1. GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE
I think this is absolutely a no brainer & that is why my list starts of with the Golden Gate Bridge. It attracts only a bajillion tourists every year, but the view is different every time you visit. My friend from Ireland didn't know this so I'm informing y'all now: you can walk across the whole bridge. If you do, be sure to dress up extra warm. SF is super chilly & I don't want you getting sick when your trip just started. On the darker side of things, this bridge is also the nation's spot for highest rate of suicides. Yup, I'm a Debbie Downer sometimes.
South end of the Golden Gate Bridge
O2. GOLDEN GATE PARK
I have bunched up all the places you can visit together while you're in Golden Gate Park. There's the California Academy of Sciences museum in it's new location that opened up a few years ago. If you're more into art, check out the de Young museum right across from Cal Academy. If you're looking for some peace & time for reflection, might I suggest a stroll through the Japanese Tea Garden? If you're a plant enthusiast, check out the Conservatory of Flowers. There is also a playground & merry go round for the kiddos!
Living Roof atop California Academy of Sciences
O3. THE CASTRO
If you are all for LGBT rights (or even curious about the culture), then head over to the Castro aka Castro Street! If you want to truly experience the Castro, I would suggest visiting during Pride weekend, which is usually around the end of June. Then, you are exposed to all different people rallying for LGBT rights while partying in the streets of SF! Did I mention that the movie Milk was filmed here? ;)
O4. AT&T PARK
Ahhh, AT&T Park, home to the SF Giants, champs of the World Series in 2010, 2012 & 2014! Even if you're not a Giants fan, the ballpark itself is a worthwhile place to visit. You can always set up a tour or attend a ball game. There's not a bad seat in the house. How can there be when you get to look out to the SF Bay. Don't forget to check out those World Series trophies & get a photo with them!
O5. FISHERMAN'S WHARF
Fisherman's Wharf is more touristy, but it's fun to just walk through. It's located on Pier 39, but do dress warmly as it is along the water. Get some clam chowder in a sourdough bowl, made fresh by the merchants. Go try on some silly hats in the hat store. If you love Forrest Gump, might I suggest a meal at Bubba Gumps? There is fun for everyone, all ages!
If you're looking for the largest & oldest Chinatown in the United States, it's located right in SF! The entrance to Chinatown is on Grant Avenue & Bush Street, where you'll be greeted by the Dragon's Gate. I would suggest parking & walking through Chinatown to truly get a sense of the place. You can stop to get some dim sum, see some exotic shops, buy old potions from herb shops, or even see fortune cookies being made!
O7. UNION SQUARE
Looking for places to shop? Look no further than Union Square, a shopper's paradise in SF! It boasts the second largest Bloomingdale's & Nordstrom in the United States. If you're like me, you'd also make a stop to the Japanese clothing store, Uniqlo.
O8. RIDE A CABLE CAR/TROLLEY
How many times have you seen a SF film & seen a cable car/trolley in it? *raises hand* You know you want to ride one to complete your SF checklist! It's only $5 one way for adults/youth & you get to see the City as you ride on a little piece of history.
Alcatraz Island, the place where many prisoners were held starting from the Civil War until it was closed in 1963. Al Capone was held here at one point. Personally, I haven't even gone myself yet, but it is certainly high on my priority list to get it done! You can catch a ferry over complete with a tour so be sure to catch one before your trip is over!
1O. WALT DISNEY FAMILY MUSEUM
If you have a Disney fan in your family, I highly suggest visiting the Walk Disney Family Museum. I will preface that the museum revolves around Walt Disney's life, not the history of Disney Company. It'll take you from the time of Walt's birth to his death & everything inbetween. You'll get to see original artworks of his early animation beginnings & so forth. I would suggest blocking out a few hours for this museum. You'll need it, believe me :)
Wall art at the Walt Disney Family Museum
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Exploratorium, Haight-Ashbury, Presidio, Palace of Fine Arts, Coit Tower, North Beach & so much more!
Be sure to check out Million Mile blog for my guest post here :)