San Francisco used to be the city for arrivals in California back in the days of long boat trip and longer overland journeys. The legacy of this mighty port city has left it thriving and busy still and full of a variety of cultural centers and activities. It is one of the most tourist visited cities in the United States.
If culture is what you are looking for, then prepare to dive right into the city’s many museums of both art and history. You will fall in love with places like the Museum of Modern Art and will want to come back again and again to catch the latest. The entire city is a work of art, with architecture that will amaze you and art sprinkled liberally throughout the city – you will even find amazing displays inside the San Francisco airport.
For a different kind of culture, no less enjoyable, try visiting one of the city’s many theaters. From Broadway shows on tour like Cats or Phantom of the Opera to smaller performances like Kiss Me, Kate, you will find plenty of shows to see and enjoy no matter when you come to the city.
Getting around is hard in an unfamiliar city, and the hills and one-way streets of San Francisco make it notoriously difficult to navigate for the inexperienced. That is why you should take history for a ride and hop on to one of San Francisco’s historic Cable Cars. These moving monuments to the city's history will take you anywhere you need to go and are a fun and exciting way to get around. Buy a day pass from the conductor and get around all day without any hassles.
The Cable Cars might take you to Chinatown to explore the Chinese culture set up like a city within a city. Grab lunch in Chinatown and shop for souvenirs before moving on to other parts of the City for more exploring. Don’t forget to check out Pier 39 while you are exploring, or you will regret missing it.
Pier 39 is slightly different in that it was designed to delight San Francisco citizens and visitors alike. Many companies still use the piers, most shipping things in or out, and many selling to the public. If you have come in by cruise ship, then the piers are the first part of the city you would have set foot on. Come by in winter and experience ice skating or a snow park set up for the kids. Ride the carousel at the end of the pier and munch on clam chowder sold in sourdough bread bowls from shops along the pier. There are plenty of souvenir shops and lots of jewelers, too, who would be glad to have you stop by and take a look at their offerings. It is also from this pier that people can best watch the popular San Francisco Fireworks.
For a little more direct contact with the ocean, think about heading down to one of the beaches. San Francisco is not famous for warm weather, but you can still enjoy fishing or playing on the beach, and can even brave the waters to go surfing (but don’t forget your wet suit!)
While you’re out on the water, take a charter boat to visit the island of Alcatraz, once a notorious prison in the San Francisco Bay and now a tourist destination that is supposed to be haunted.
Thrills and chills abound in the City for those who seek them, and beauty and history show up in full measure as well. Immerse yourself in the culture, lose yourself in a theater show, or wander through one of the many parks. You will find yourself reluctant to leave and eager to return to this exciting city by the bay. Just don’t call it Frisco!