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San Francisco - Top 10 Attractions

Be sure all of these San Francisco landmark attractions are on your itinerary.

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Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Photo courtesy of San Francisco Convention and Tourism Bureau
By Susan Breslow Sardone

No. 1 - San Francisco Top Attractions
Voted America's top city in numerous surveys, colorful and cosmopolitan San Francisco invariably charms visitors. Its 1.7-mile-long Golden Gate Bridge -- one of America's top ten construction marvels -- is a must-see. Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2012, this graceful span (which connects to Marin county) is an unforgettable icon to drive, walk, or cycle across. Or see it by seaplane (buy tour online).

No. 2 - San Francisco Top Attractions
Contemplate your next move in Golden Gate Park. Within its thousand-plus acres are gardens, lakes, bridal and walking paths, Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, and the tranquil Japanese Tea Garden, originally part of the 1894 World's Fair Exhibit. Tea drinkers overlook a waterfall and pond framed by fragrant wisteria. Explore the park by Segway (buy tour online).

No. 3 - San Francisco Top Attractions
There's really nothing else like the California Academy of Sciences. Combining innovative architecture and exciting exhibitions, the Academy is home to Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium, the Kimball Natural History Museum, and a four-story rainforest under one green roof. Skip the lines (buy tickets now). Explore more: Behind-the-Scenes Tour (buy tickets online).

No. 4 - San Francisco Top Attractions
The city's most popular destination, Fisherman's Wharf overlooks San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. The historic waterfront still serves as a working fishing pier, so expect fresh seafood at area restaurants. Nearby San Francisco attractions Pier 39, The Cannery, and Ghirardelli Square are touristy, but prove irresistible to many visitors. See it by Segway (buy tickets online)

No. 5 - San Francisco Top Attractions
Do some time on "The Rock:" A short ferry ride on the Blue and Gold Fleet deposits you on Alcatraz Island, and the self-guide brochure directs you from the former penitentiary's dock to its cellhouse. Evening tours, led by park guides, are also available on his island-of-no-escape in the San Francisco Bay (Ferry departs Pier 41). Jail & Sail Tour (buy tickets now) — combination of an afternoon at Alcatraz and a sunset cruise in San Francisco Bay.

No. 6 - San Francisco Top Attractions
Moving historic landmarks, the Cable Cars of San Francisco operate seven days a week along century-old routes. For a unique tour of the city, take the California Street line, which runs from the Financial District, through Chinatown, and over Nob Hill. The Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde lines both terminate near Fisherman's Wharf. Board in San Francisco wherever you see a brown-and-white stop sign. Prefer wheels? Hop-on Hop-off Bus (buy tickets online).

No. 7 - San Francisco Top Attractions
A dragon-draped archway at the intersection of Bush and Grant streets announces the entrance to Chinatown in San Francisco. Streets teem with fish and vegetable stalls, herbal shops, temples, and eateries. (Lichee Garden, Hunan Home's, and R&G restaurants all rate high with diners.) Museums include the Chinese Historical Society of America and Chinese Culture Center.

No. 8 - San Francisco Top Attractions
In between appointments, stroll over to North Beach, San Francisco's Italian neighborhood, for a snack. The espresso is strong and the cannoli sweet at Caffe Trieste, and century-old Molinari's deli appeases the hungry. Once fortified, pay a visit to City Lights Bookstore, Mecca for bohemians and serious book-lovers alike.

No. 9 - San Francisco Top Attractions
Picture-postcard-worthy views include Alamo Square, where San Francisco's circa-1900 Victorian homes are juxtaposed against the towering backdrop of downtown's skyscrapers (Webster, Broderick, Oak, and Golden Gate streets), and Lombard Street, the world's crookedest. Its vertiginous path winds past ornate houses and descends steeply (between Hyde and Leavenworth streets).

No. 10 - San Francisco Top Attractions
If you can escape for a short while, hop a Red-and-White Ferry to Sausalito from Fisherman's Wharf. The ride takes one-half hour. The panoramic view of San Francisco Bay is spectacular, and Sausalito's sunny, inviting outdoor cafés and small shops overlooking the city are utterly charming.

San Francisco Top 10 Sights

San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau

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