Your Destination Guide to San Francisco

Destination Guide San Francisco - Your Destination Guide to San Francisco, CA

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© Abi Skipp

San Francisco abounds with attractions as rich as its history. Grand mansions stand majestically on hilltops as reminders of the city's elegant past, while historic saloons dominate the same corners they have for over 100 years. With a little imagination, a stroll around this city can be like a trip back in time.

San Francisco | Historic

  • Alcatraz
  • Nothing says "San Francisco Bay" like a trip to Alcatraz prison. Starting at Pier 33 — a short walk from San Francisco's iconic Pier 39 — you can follow in the footsteps (or rather, wake) of Juan Manuel de Ayala, the first to land on the island of Alcatraces.
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Camera Obscura
  • Camera Obscura
  • Perched high above the windy waters of the Pacific, and nestled in the shadows of San Francisco's stately Cliff House lies the dumpy little building shaped something like a camera -- this is San Francisco's Camera Obscura, one of twenty of its kind in the world.
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City Hall
  • City Hall
  • San Francisco's love affair with domes goes far back in the history books. Its city hall, which opened in 1915, is topped by the fifth largest dome in the world.
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Cliff House
  • Cliff House
  • If you visit San Francisco's Ocean Beach prepared for a day of fun in the sun, you might be disappointed to learn it's more likely to be cold, windy, and foggy than warm and sunny. But don't let that drive you away: there's more to Ocean Beach than wind and cold water.
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Coit Tower
  • Coit Tower
  • Called "vaguely phallic" by Tyne Daly's character in the Dirty Harry movie The Enforcer, Coit Tower has been a unique symbol of San Francisco since the 1930s.
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Fort Mason
  • Fort Mason
  • Located in the northern Marina District at San Francisco Bay, Fort Mason is a former post of the U.S. Army. The expansive 1,200-acre lot is one of the city's great historic sites and, with its 49 buildings of historical significance, is now a National Historic Landmark District.
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Fort Point
  • Fort Point
  • Dwarfed beneath the stunning Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point is San Francisco's most understated historical site. Best approached from Crissy Field on foot, the fort is an intimate attraction, which, on a clear day, offers views across the bay as far as Alcatraz and downtown.
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Golden Gate Bridge
Grace Cathedral
  • Grace Cathedral
  • From the top of Nob Hill, the Grace Cathedral's Ghiberti doors open to people of all beliefs. As a replica of the Florence Baptistry's "Gates of Paradise," the exterior gilded panels depict scenes from the Bible.
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Historic Elixir Saloon
  • Historic Elixir Saloon
  • Few bars in San Francisco offer a history lesson with their handmade cocktails, but Elixir Saloon does just that. The Elixir Saloon is the second oldest continually-running saloon in San Francisco, having served up libations to Mission District patrons for over 150 years.
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Lyon Street Stairs
  • Lyon Street Stairs
  • The Lyon Street Stairs are located on (what else?) Lyon Street, below Broadway and above Green Street. These exceptionally steep stairs preside over the lowest point of Pacific Heights, the highest point of Cow Hollow, and on the very edge of the Presidio.
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Mission Dolores
  • Mission Dolores
  • Looking at Mission Dolores your first question might be, "Which building is it, the humble adobe structure or the Gothic giant next to it?" The answer is both. Founded the year America was born,...
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Musee Mecanique
  • Musee Mecanique
  • While walking past Pier 45 at Fisherman's Wharf some might think they are passing an insane asylum as a loud, eerie laugh pierces the darkness and leaves a sense of horror in the air.
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Octagon House
  • Octagon House
  • You may pass by everyday and never know that the eight-walled house on Gough Street was designed specifically to house happier people. The theory was that eight walls (proven to be more spatially efficient) would also make for more contented, healthy people.
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Sentinel Building
  • Sentinel Building
  • The iconic Sentinel building, with its emerald hue, is the Jolly Green Giant of San Franciscan architecture. Standing tall and thin at the foot of the North Beach neighborhood, its "flatiron" style is of the 1900s American Architectural idiom.
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Sutro Baths
  • Sutro Baths
  • A century ago, San Franciscans would journey to the western-most edge of the city –largely covered in sand dunes and referred to as the Outside Lands – for a saltwater bath overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
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USS Pampanito
  • USS Pampanito
  • Docked at Pier 45, the USS Pampanito is a historical treasure often overlooked by the hordes of tourists that flock to the Fisherman’s Wharf area. This World War II submarine has been restored to look just as it did in 1945, representing the height of submarine development during the war.
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