Our tour guide diva AJ recommends the following "must do" things in San Francisco:
1. Ride a Cable Car, the only moving historical landmark in the world. Stop off at the Cable Car Barn at Washington and Mason to get a full understanding of this unique form of transportation. Riding the Powell Hyde line will allow you to see Lombard Street, the famous "crookedest street in the world." Or is it?
2. Visit Alcatraz. This former prison is the most popular destination in San Francisco. The bay cruise to and from the island will give you the opportunity to see the skyline from the water, a unique perspective many people fail to take advantage of. It is wise to purchase your tickets before you arrive as tours are often sold out. http://www.alcatrazcruises.com
3. Visit Coit Tower. Beautiful murals inside, impressive bay view from the tower or Pioneer Park at the base. Then descend Telegraph hill via the Filbert Steps on the east side of the park for a unique view of how folks on Telegraph Hill live, more beautiful bay views, and the chance to hear and see the famous parrots of Telegraph Hill.
4. Golden Gate Bridge. Not just a feat of engineering, this 1.7 mile span offers incredible views of The City, the bay and the Pacific ocean. Be sure to visit Ft. Point under the bridge for a different view of this San Francisco icon.
5. Explore Golden Gate Park. This large urban park can consume a whole day. The Japanese Tea Garden, California Academy of Science, the DeYoung Art Museum, the Arboretum, Bison Paddock, and Paddle boats are all worth a look--and then watch the sun go down over the Pacific over a drink or dinner at the Beach Chalet.
6. Chinatown, the most densely populated district of San Francisco, offers an abundance of shopping, food, and unique architecture. The best place to buy souvenirs to take home to friends and family.
7. North Beach, traditionally the Italian section of the city, has no beach but abounds in quaint shops, great restaurants, and The City’s best coffee options. A favorite for tourists and locals alike.
8. Civic Center, the largest collection of Beaux Arts buildings in the U.S. Home to San Francisco City Hall (with a dome larger than the US Capitol) the Asian Art Museum, and the Modern San Francisco Library. Check out the library's San Francisco History Room, housing an eclectic collection of city artifacts and photographs.
9. Yerba Buena Gardens. This urban park is located near the newly expanded Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of The African Diaspora, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the contemporary Jewish Museum, and the Metreon entertainment complex. With shops, restaurants, and gardens, it will keep you entertained for hours.
10. Twin Peaks. See The City and the bay spread out at your feet. Especially captivating at night when the lights seem to go on forever.