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percent of visitors to the city include Fisherman's Wharf
on their itinerary--and with good reason. The wharf abounds
with shops and restaurants; waterfront marketplaces include
The Anchorage, The Cannery, Ghirardelli Square and Pier 39.
Still a working wharf, "Fish Alley" sells thousands of tons
of sole, shrimp, salmon, sea bass, squid and other deep-sea
delicacies. During crab season (mid-November through June)
devotees line up for the best of the catch. A fleet of historic
ships berth at Hyde Street Pier, near the Maritime National
Historical Park and Museum.
second-most popular attraction is Pier 39, with its sunning
sea lions, more than 100 one-of-a-kind stores, restaurants
and fun-filled attractions, including the new Underwater World
aquarium. Pier 39 is also home to a 350-berth marina, a waterfront
park and the Blue & Gold Fleet. A two-tiered carousel and
performances by street entertainers add to the fun.
Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, the oldest continuous chocolate
manufacturer in America, has called San Francisco its home
since 1852. Once a family run confectioner's shop, now the
Ghirardelli Manufactory & Soda Fountain where the original
equipment can still be seen in operation, sits as the cornerstone
of the popular square surrounded by shops and restaurants
and an open plaza where visitors and locals alike sit on benches
and savor the famous chocolate and sumptious ice cream sundaes.
The entrance to Chinatown at Grant Avenue and Bush Street
is called the "Dragon's Gate." Inside are 24 blocks of hustle
and bustle, most of it taking place right along Grant Avenue,
the oldest street in San Francisco. Exotic shops, renowned
restaurants, food markets, temples and small museums comprise
its boundaries. Each February, Chinatown is the focal point
for the city's Chinese New Year, a week of festivities culminating
with a huge downtown parade, replete with dancing dragons.
in the Russian Hill district, Lombard Street is known
as "the crookedest street in the world" because
of its eight sharp turns on a 40-degree slope.
Built in 1907, The Cannery was once a Del Monte peach cannery.
Today, these historic buildings, with three levels of walkways,
balconies and bridges, wrap around an inviting courtyard.
Here, one can relax under 100-year-old olive trees and have
an alfresco snack or an elegant meal while being entertained
by street performers. Discover a variety of shops and galleries
filled with the latest in objects and fashions. Live entertainment
is featured daily and The Cannery offers one of the finest
comedy clubs in the city. Just one-half block from the Hyde
Street cable car turnaround, The Cannery is located at the
corner of Leavenworth and Beach streets.
North Beach, rich in Italian heritage, includes cabarets,
jazz clubs, galleries, inns, restaurants, bakeries and delicatessens
-- a perfect spot for cappuccino and espresso. Coit Tower
atop Telegraph Hill is blessed with marvelous views and famed
Diego Rivera murals on the ground floor.
Marina District was built on lagoon and marshland filled for
use during the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition which celebrated
the opening of the Panama Canal. Remaining from the Exhibition
is the Palace of Fine Arts designed by Berkeley architect
Bernard Maybeck. Today, the Palace houses the Exploratorium.
playful museum where kids make the discoveries for themselves,
activating more than 700 exhibits. For more information, call
415-561-0360. Combine your visit here with some kite-flying
on Marina Green or a visit to the wave organ at the end of
the St. Francis Yacht Club jetty.
downtown waterfront district has been transformed with the
removal of the Embarcadero Freeway. Promenades and tidal stairs
descending right to the water's edge offer easy access. Cast
off from King Street to explore the latest evidence of The
City's waterfront renaissance. In the balmy South Beach district
where a new neighborhood has risen, palm trees evoke southern
inclinations. Sunny cafes with outdoor patios are plentiful.
Skirting this area, Herb Caen Way along the southern Embarcadero
is punctuated with historic plaques and pylons recalling events
and people of the past. The SS Jeremiah O'Brien, the Liberty
Ship which made an historic Atlantic crossing in the spring
of 1994 to commemorate D-Day, docks at Pier 32. From here
head north towards the Ferry Building, passing directly beneath
the approach to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Nearby
the Embarcadero Center's architecturally dramatic eight-block
complex shelters 19 outdoor sculptures.
many visitors, Ocean Beach on the westernmost edge of The
City is the first stop on the itinerary. The Pacific Ocean
is always an exhilarating sight, especially for first-timers.
The expansive windows of the Cliff House, erected in 1909,
are a popular lookout. Just offshore are the abrupt outlines
of Seal Rocks. They are usually inhabited by shore birds and
a colony of stellar sea lions. Bring binoculars for a close-up.
On a clear day the Farallon Islands some 30 miles distant
are also visible. Swimming, it should be noted, is not allowed
here. There are two other sandy pockets on The City's northern
edge. China Beach at 28th Avenue and Sea Cliff, is one of
the few swimming beaches in The City. Lifeguards on duty during
the summer watch this cove. At Baker Beach, off 25th Avenue,
swimming is dangerous, but the views of the Golden Gate are
alluring for hikers, fishermen and picnickers.
Golden Gate Bridge (Highway 101 North) links San Francisco
with Marin County. Pedestrians and bicyclists are allowed
across the bridge on pathways with sweeping views of the City,
Alcatraz and the Marin Headlands. The bridge toll for vehicles
is $3 collected when entering San Francisco.
1,000-acre park's trove of attractions includes Stybing Arboretum
and Botanical Gardens, a "living library" where 6,000 plant
species, including a stunning display of California redwoods,
flourish; the Japanese Tea Garden; a children's playground;
the Asian Art Museum; MH de Young Memorial Museum; and the
Academy of Sciences, with its aquarium,
Morrison Planetarium and laserium. Tennis courts, stables,
baseball diamonds, polo grounds, croquet and lawn-bowling
greens, an archery field, a golf course and a fly-fishing
pool draw the sporting crowd year-round. Free guided walking
tours of Golden Gate Park are conducted by Friends of
Recreation and Parks, 415-263-0991.
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opened in 1936 and links
San Francisco with Contra Costa and Alameda counties by way
of an 8.5 mile supension/cantilever structure. Views of the
City's skyline are spectacular from the bridge, however pedestrians
aren't allowed on the structure. A $2 toll is collected westbound.
zoo opens new habitats all the time, but Gorilla World, Koala
Crossing and the Primate Discovery Center are still the top
draws. Youngsters can feed, pet and play with barnyard animals
in the Children's Zoo. For times and more information, call
incorporated into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area
is The Presidio, a former military post, home to coastal defense
forts, a national cemetery and an historic airfield. The heavily
wooded land, which overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge and borders
the Pacific Ocean, is filled with a plethora of recreational
beaches, hiking and biking trails, as well as some of the
most spectacular vistas in the city. In 1995, the US Army
officially transferred the Presidio Golf Course to the stewardship
of the National Park Service, which opened the historic Presidio
Golf Course to public play. The course is one of the most
picturesque and popular on the West Coast.
attraction for serious shoppers, the hub of San Francisco's
downtown retail district features elegant stores and richly
appointed shops that cater to every taste and do it with style.
It's Fifth Avenue, Rodeo Drive, State Street and local success
stories all in one.
ride up one of the city's hills on a cable car is rated as
a "must do" by visitors to San Francisco. Cable cars operate
along three routes: The Powell-Hyde line begins at Powell
and Market streets, terminating at Victorian Park near the
Maritime Museum and Aquatic Park; the Powell-Mason line also
begins at Powell and Market, but ends at Bay and Taylor near
Fisherman's Wharf; the California Street line runs from California
and Market streets to Van Ness Avenue. For route information,
with its manicured lawns, sculptures, performance spaces and
museums, Yerba Buena Gardens hosts the $56 million Rooftop,
an area devoted to San Francisco's youth, which includes a
130,000-square-foot children's garden, child-development center,
bowling alley, ice-skating rink and Zeum,
an art and technology center for kids. Completing the Rooftop
is the 93-year-old, hand-carved Charles Looff carousel originally
from San Francisco's Playland at the Beach.
Of course, there are also indoor recreation options in San
Francisco for less outdoorsy types. At the edge of Yerba Buena
Gardens is Sony Metreon, which opened its doors in 1999. With
more than 350,000 square feet of shopping, restaurants, movie
theaters, interactive arcades and attractions, Metreon has
fast established itself as a major recreation destination
in the city's SoMa district.
and residents enjoy Broadway show, improvisational comedy,
musical reviews and dramatic theater throughout the city.
Situated on San Francisco's Union Square is TIX Bay Area,
a half-price ticket booth that has day-of tickets to performances
at many of the large and smaller houses. Within walking distance
are American Conservatory Theater, Cable Car Theater, Curran
Theater, Mason Street Theater, Golden Gate Theater (pictured)
and Theater on the Square.
out as a federal penitentiary in 1963, Alcatraz is now a unit
of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Once home to
America's most hardened criminals, the island reopened to
the general public in 1973. On-island activities include self-guided
trail walks, audio-cassette tours narrated by former inmates
and guards through the main cell block and ranger-led tours
of the island. Advance reservations for this popular attraction,
accessible only by ferry from Fisherman's Wharf, are strongly
urged. Call 415-705-5555.
is an excellent introduction to the city of San Francisco.
Driving time is about three and a half hours (but try to avoid
the congested downtown area during commute hours). Detailed
maps of the route are available from the San Francisco Visitor
Information Center on the lower level of Hallidie Plaza at
Market and Powell streets, near the cable-car turnaround.
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