Plan a Vacation: The San Francisco Travel Guide

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San Francisco is a diverse West Coast city featuring a cultural explosion that offers spectacular places indoor and out to explore, amazing views and dozens of places to dine and shop before heading home. People traveling to "The City by the Bay" never have to worry about running out of activities whether it's their first or sixth visit. Here are some of the best things to do and see in San Francisco.

Don't Skip These Outdoor Stops
Take a walk along one of the top engineering wonders of the world, the Golden Gate Bridge. For the perfect picture view of the span that connects San Francisco to Marin County, California, stop at the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point that overlooks the city.

Get in touch with nature at the Muir Woods National Monument that boasts 600- to 800-year old redwoods — that tower as much as 258-feet tall — and offers six miles of trails to explore. If that's not enough, it also has several beautiful sandy beaches and runs along another nature reserve, the Mount Tamalpais State Park. For visitors that want to stick to the city, San Francisco has its own version of New York's Central Park with Golden Gate Park. The 1,017-acre park stretches several city blocks all the way to the coast and is home to many special gardens, such as the Rose Garden and the McLaren Memorial Rhododendron Dell. It also offers horseback riding, fly-casting pools, tennis courts, polo fields and a full golf course.

Cultural Spots to Visit in San Francisco
Although there are many recreational locations around the city, visitors can still find plenty of cultural destinations. One of the most popular is Alcatraz. The famous former island prison turned tourist attraction hosts daily, guided tours. For children, Pier 15 offers the Exploratorium, a museum with 600 science exhibits, many of which are hands-on. Another terrific stop for kids is the Cable Car Museum. This free stop is quick, and even lets visitors hop on a vintage car and ring the bell. Other cultural stops include the Asian Art Museum, California Academy of Science, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of the African Diaspora and Ripley's Odditorium in Fisherman's Wharf.

Where to Dine
No vacation is complete without good food, and San Francisco has plenty to offer. Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 are excellent dining destinations for everything from traditional American cuisine to Asian, Italian, seafood and several selections for vegetarians. Top eateries include Alito's, which has been serving seafood on the Wharf since 1924, and the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company on Pier 39. For visitors looking for an alternative to fish, the Gold Dust Bar & Piano Lounge is a staple, earning its place on the famous pier in 1933, or the Hard Rock Cafe offers something for everyone. There are many locations to eat around the city. Consider grabbing a meal away from the coast, such as in Chinatown, Japantown, the Financial District and the Sunset District.

Getting Around San Francisco
Although renting a vehicle is always an option, public transportation choices are abundant. Many areas of the city are easy to navigate by foot. If that's not possible, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) runs under or through most of the metro area, and municipal buses are also available. For a more nostalgic ride, consider hopping on one of the streetcars that run along several avenues in the city. Other options include Uber, Lyft, taxis and vehicle rentals.