Golden Gate Bridge from the water below. Chain link fence along the shore.
A trip to San Fran wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

City by the Bay: 7 Iconic Attractions to Visit in San Francisco

San Fran Loving

One of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States, San Francisco has been a hub for culture since the early 20th century — the New York City of the West Coast. However the smaller scale of the city makes it much more accessible, packing tons of things to do into less than 50 square miles.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler to the Bay Area or are looking to visit for the first time, San Francisco has plenty to offer. From iconic and historical landmarks to natural wonders and cultural attractions, these are some of the best things to do in San Francisco.

Golden Gate Bridge

An iconic symbol of the city itself, no trip to San Francisco would be complete without a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge. There are many spots to view the bridge, but one of the best ways to enjoy it is by starting at the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center.

Grab a bite or a beverage at one of the onsite cafes before taking pictures and posing for selfies. While it’s an amazing site from afar, you can’t truly appreciate its wonder until you walk across all 1.7 miles of it.

Path through redwood forest with tall and thick trees.Most of the trees in this forest are older than the United States itself.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Muir Woods

On the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge lies a beautiful scenic forest and national monument. In Muir Woods, you can see some of the tallest trees in the world, redwoods, which tower at around 300 feet tall. Most of the trees there are also older than the United States, averaging around 600 to 800 years old.

Most people come to hike the trails that run through the forest, which is the best way to experience the redwoods’ majesty. Take the Bohemian Grove Trail — with bridges and footpaths among the trees — where you can view the redwoods in three separate impressive groves.

Both Muir Woods and the Golden Gate Bridge are stops on many San Francisco wine tours, by the way. It’s just a suggestion.

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Corner of street with streetcar and giant sign reading "Fisherman's Wharf of San Francisco."Watch sea lions sunning themselves on the docks and dine on delicious clam chowder.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Fisherman’s Wharf

Probably the most famous tourist attraction in San Francisco, Fisherman’s Wharf should definitely make it onto your itinerary. There are a number of fun things to do there that can keep you occupied for an entire day. At Pier 39, you can watch the sea lions sunning themselves on the docks while surrounded by a busy shopping complex with restaurants and even an aquarium.

This is also the ideal place to be if you happen to be in San Fran for the Fourth of July — you’ll be able to view an exciting fireworks display over the bay from Pier 39.

If you like arcade games or just enjoy the novelty of old timey things, make sure to stop by the Musee Mechanique, where you can play coin-operated games and attractions from the early 20th century. Grab some clam chowder in a bread bowl nearby before ending your day at Ghirardelli Square, home to the original chocolate and ice cream shop for the brand.

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