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  • Dina Romanov
  • "What are the top 5 can't miss tourist attractions in S.F.?"

Dina Romanov

Dallas, Texas

What are the top 5 can't miss tourist attractions in S.F.?

I have less than 24 hours in S.F. and can only see ONE tourist "trap" during my time there.  If you had to choose one tourist spot to visit in San Francisco, which one would it be? Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate.. should I ride the Cable Cars? What makes this spot fun and why it is worth visiting over all others? 

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  • Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)

    Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco CA 94129 (415) 921-5858

    11 mentions

  • Fisherman's Wharf (attraction)

    Jefferson St. & Taylor St. San Francisco CA 94133 (415) 674-7503

    9 mentions

  • Alcatraz (attraction)

    Golden Gate National Recreation Area San Francisco CA 94123 (415) 705-1042

    4 mentions

  • Andy Huang

    Trippy Ambassadors are elite members of the community, hand picked to help you travel better! Interested? E-mail us at ambassadors@trippy.com.

    top answer by

    With limited time, I would explore the Northern edge of San Francisco. Starting from the Presidio, I would do the following:

    1. Rent bikes from Sports Basement
    2. Bike by Crissy Field and check out the views of the Golden Gate Bridge
    3. Coffee break at Warming Hut Cafe and Torpedo Wharf
    4. Bike up to Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion and across the bridge.
    5. Bike into Sausalito and enjoy some tacos at Salsalito Taco Shop .
    6. Take the ferry from Sausalito Ferry Landing back to Pier 39 .
    7. Have some clam chowder at Chowders and look at the Sea Lion Colony .
    8. Bike through Fisherman's Wharf and stop by Musée Mécanique for some old school games.
    9. Bike by Aquatic Park and Ghiradelli Square and Fort Mason .
    10. Bike through Palace of Fine Arts at night for a gorgeous view.
    11. Return the bike at Sports Basement .
    12. Have dinner at one of the great restaurants in San Francisco.

    Pier 39This is a version of the tour I did, with a couple extra stops.

    https://sftravelplanner.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/andy-and-suns-day-of-fun-golden-gate-bridge-sausalito-and-fishermans-wharf/

    I also run at Meetup group and we host fun adventures throughout San Francisco. Check us out!

    http://www.meetup.com/San-Francisco-Urban-Adventure-Club

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    • Adina M.

      Adina M.

      Although I have plans for SF, I won't be able to visit it anytime soon. But I really enjoyed this comment; a well-structured tour and time efficient. Thank you for sharing, Andy. · (0 likelikes)

    Mentioned in this answer:

    1. Sports Basement (attraction)
    2. Crissy Field (attraction)
    3. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
    4. Warming Hut Cafe (restaurant)
    5. Torpedo Wharf (attraction)
    6. Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion (attraction)
    7. Salsalito Taco Shop (restaurant)
    8. Sausalito Ferry Landing (unknown)
    9. Pier 39 (attraction)
    10. Chowders (restaurant)
    11. Sea Lion Colony (attraction)
    12. Fisherman's Wharf (attraction)
    13. Musée Mécanique (attraction)
    14. Aquatic Park (attraction)
    15. Ghiradelli Square (attraction)
    16. Fort Mason (neighborhood)
    17. Palace of Fine Arts (attraction)
    18. Sports Basement (attraction)

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  • Brew Johnson

    answered first by

    Why settle for one. If I were you, I would go to the The Buena Vista Cafe for an irish coffee. From there (or close to there) you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, walk past the end of the line for the Powell-Hyde Cable Car (seeing it is good enough for me, but you can ride it if you choose), then walk down to Fisherman's Wharf. An easy way to hit all three. An alternative (or addition) to Fisherman's Wharf would be the Ferry Building Marketplace which is a super high end mall with a bunch of cool farmers' market type shops and stalls, restaurants, etc., and is right on the water.

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    1. The Buena Vista Cafe (restaurant)
    2. Powell-Hyde Cable Car (unknown)
    3. Fisherman's Wharf (attraction)
    4. Ferry Building Marketplace (attraction)

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  • Nisah Cheatham

    answered by

    If you like walking, then you can do a lot in a short time in S.F. Here is a loop that I've done once or twice on my past visits to the city.

    I'm not much of a fan of Fishermans Wharf, but from Market Street/BART, you can get off at Powell St. BART Station and ride the cable car up and over to Fisherman's Wharf, then after getting your fill of this true tourist trap, you can walk back the way you came down Hyde St. to the top of Lombard Street. Walk down the "crooked street" and keep going down Lombard to Columbus Ave. and then you have a choice to make. If you like hiking the hills and want a great view, keep on Lombard to Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower. If you want to avoid the hills, turn left on Columbus and head to Washington Square Park and Little Italy for some good eats and drinks.

    If you went to Coit Tower, its cool to find the "hidden" steps down toward the Embarcadero. It meanders right thru community gardens and peoples homes. It'll dump you closer to Pier 23, but I'd advise going back (right) toward Embarcadero Center. You can take this all the way back to Market Street (and BART), or you can turn right onto Broadway and get over to Stockton. (see next paragraph)

    If you went to Little Italy, then angle off on Stockton and follow that into Chinatown. I think Chinatown is not to be missed, especially if you are looking for good eats and a good price.

    Instead of "traps", let's say, "iconic"...
    Other iconic destinations that are worth the visit are the Painted Ladies and of course the Golden Gate Bridge. The are not really in the walking area of right downtown, and I don't know what kind of timing you have, but with proper planning (and a cab ride or two) you can do everything I've mentioned in a day.

    Last thing I will add, is if you like great city views, head up Twin Peaks. There are also more hidden stairs to get you up and down if you want to do more urban hill hiking. I did one night I was there and took this great photo looking back to the city and the Bay Bridge:General Trippy Media

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    Mentioned in this answer:

    1. Powell St. BART Station (attraction)
    2. Fisherman's Wharf (attraction)
    3. Lombard Street (attraction)
    4. Coit Tower (attraction)
    5. Washington Square Park (attraction)
    6. Embarcadero Center (attraction)
    7. Painted Ladies (attraction)
    8. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
    9. Twin Peaks (attraction)
    10. Bay Bridge (unknown)

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  • Konrad Waliszewski

    answered by

    If you had to narrow it down to 5 things (which is so hard to do in this tie-dyed, technicolor wonderland), I'd first explore the following 3 neighborhoods:

    1. Mission District: This is one of the coolest neighborhoods in San Francisco. Murals and street art adorn the buildings, colorful Latino markets line the streets, and upscale restaurants sit side-by-side with dive bars and street food vendors. Working class folks, dot-com millionaires, hipsters, activists, and artists all make this place their home. Some specific highlights: Dolores Park, Balmy Alley, Misíon San Francisco de Asís, eat a burrito at Pancho Villa Taqueria, get coffee at Stanza Coffee Bar.
    2. Haight-Ashbury: This iconic neighborhood was home to the hippies that pioneered the 1960’s counterculture movement and introduced America to open sexuality, mind-altering drugs, and psychedelic rock and roll. This neighborhood was home to rock legends such as Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead. If you're here, wander in to Golden Gate Park as well.
    3. North Beach: This Italian-centric neighborhood has a European vibe and is the perfect spot to sip a cappuccino on the street, explore boutique shops, listen to live music, and hit the town, as it features a variety of dining and nightlife options. Some specific highlights: check out the views from Coit Tower, explore City Lights Bookstore, sip a cappucino at one of the street side cafes on Columbus, get a pizza at Tomasso's, explore a few boutiques, and wander into Chinatown if you have time.


    Then, these are 2 tourist sites you can't miss:

    1. Golden Gate Bridge (either go to the bridge or check it out the views from Baker Beach): This 1.7 mile long bridge spans the Golden Gate strait, and was once the largest suspension bridge in the world. Initially considered the “bridge that couldn’t be built,” the Golden Gate Bridge is now one of the seven Wonders of the Modern World and the most internationally recognized symbol for California.
    2. Ferry Building: This historic ferry terminal serves as an indoor market filled with renowned restaurants and specialty food purveyors, selling artisan cheese, locally roasted coffee, California wine, craft beer, gourmet ice cream, and more. Daily ferries to Oakland, Sausalito, Tiburon, and other destinations across the bay frequently arrive and depart here as well.


    Three honorable mentions are the Golden Gate Park, the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square and Alcatraz. More importantly, the food and wine are incredible throughout the city.

    If you want a self-guided walking tour of the city on your iPhone. We have an awesome local guide that will tell you stories about all the must-see sites and neighborhoods at your own schedule and pace. Check out TripScout.co to learn more or download the app here.

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    Mentioned in this answer:

    1. Mission District (neighborhood)
    2. Haight-Ashbury (neighborhood)
    3. North Beach (neighborhood)
    4. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
    5. Ferry Building (attraction)
    6. Golden Gate Park (attraction)
    7. Alamo Square (attraction)
    8. Alcatraz (attraction)

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  • Bailey Kait

    answered by

    Fisherman's Wharf tends to be fairly touristy, but I still recommend going there! you can take the Powell street cable car all the way there from the Powell BART(train) station. Definitely ride the cable car up this street! It gives you a good quick-view of the city. In the wharf, you can see the seals, Pier 39, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge! This spot just has a great view of the water and great choices for seafood. There is just so much to do here. If you're a chocolate lover like I am, you should go to Ghiradelli Square and have a sundae! Hope this helps.

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    1. Pier 39 (attraction)
    2. Alcatraz (attraction)
    3. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
    4. Ghiradelli Square (attraction)

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  • Fritzi Lareau

    answered by

    Buy a ticket for a Hop on and Hop off bus. Get the bus on the Embarcadero Center and in a few hours you can see the whole city: Golden Gate Bridge, Cliff House, Ocean Beach, Golden Gate Park, Twin Peaks, the Castro, Civic Center, Union Square, San Francisco Chinatown, North Beach. Once you have seen the highlights you can decide what you would like to explore in the time remaining. Why settle for one "tourist trap?" For a few $ investment you can easily grasp the whole city. My personal favorite "tourist trap" is drinks at The Top of the Mark on Nob Hill. It is a classic view that never gets old.

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    1. Embarcadero Center (attraction)
    2. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
    3. Cliff House (attraction)
    4. Ocean Beach (attraction)
    5. Golden Gate Park (attraction)
    6. Twin Peaks (attraction)
    7. Civic Center (neighborhood)
    8. Union Square (attraction)
    9. San Francisco Chinatown (attraction)
    10. North Beach (neighborhood)
    11. Top of the Mark (hotel)

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  • George Pfau

    answered by

    Get a sandwich at Marina Submarine on Union St. near Steiner. Q, the chef is a master. Be sure to get expertly sliced avocado.

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  • Daisy Me

    answered by

    Only one person mentioned the Palace of Fine Arts in the area. For me it is a fabulous no cost stop I wouldn't miss.


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  • larisa pedroncelli

    answered by

    Golden Gate Bridge hands down. Avoid Fisherman's Wharf. Total waste of time.

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    • Peter D.

      Peter D.

      Yes, I hate to be a wet blanket, but I have to agree whole-heartedly -- Fisherman's Wharf is not worth anyone's time. · (0 likelikes)

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    2. Fisherman's Wharf (attraction)

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  • David Robinson

    answered by

    You can do all of those things in 24 hours. San Francisco is a small big city.

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  • Andrea M Spencer

    answered by

    You must go to Muir Woods National MonumentThat place is pure heaven! You will remember it for the rest of your life and want to go back!

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  • Janelle Kennedy

    answered by

    Alcatraz. You get a nice view of San Francisco Bay on the boat ride, the prison's history is fascinating and the tours are a lot of fun.

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  • Paulette Harris

    answered by

    Definitely a hop on hop off bus tour! You get a very good over view of the city and a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. We also did a night tour which showed you different sights. You then have a choice of going back and doing or seeing something from the tour in more depth. There is so much to see and experience in this city and this is a good way of gaining a cross section of it!

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  • Peter Dorfman

    answered by

    Golden Gate Park is truly a national treasure. The De Young Museum is world class.Golden Gate Park

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  • Jenelle Butler

    answered by

    Fisherman's Wharf is pretty family-oriented. The bridge is nice, if you like cycling at all and the weather is decent, it's nice to rent a bike at the Wharf and bike across the bridge. It's not for the faint of heart, though, particularly if you bike both ways. Taking the ferry back from Sausalito is nicer, in my opinion. That said, this could easily take up your entire day. A better bet might be a short cruise around the Bay, they leave from the Wharf and give nice views of the bridge. Then you could get to do a bit of both.

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  • mary thomas

    answered by

    If you have 24 hours in SF you have time for more than one of these things. I recommend that you start the day walking half way across the Golden Gate Bridge (about an hour), then we like to walk around Union Square and eat lunch, catch a cable car down to Fisherman's Wharf to explore and eat dinner. Then head back to Union Square by cab or cable car.

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  • Spencer Spellman

    answered by

    My vote would be a tour of Alcatraz, because you can see a lot of that when doing the tour. You go to Fisherman's Wharfto take the boat and then you get views of Golden Gate Bridge from the boat ride and on the island. I lived in San Francisco for a couple years and that was my favorite touristy thing to do, especially the night tour of Alcatraz. It's a really unique experience and the tour is just incredibly interesting if you're into history.

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  • Cynthia Colglazier

    answered by

    Yes, you can see a lot in 24 hours. It's a compact city. I love the Palace of Fine Arts. Check out a photo on line. It's beautiful. It's also close to Golden Gate Bridge. And you could also visit Fort Point National Historic Site at the base of the bridge, close to Fisherman's Wharf. I also love driving through the Presidio.

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    2. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
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    4. Fisherman's Wharf (attraction)
    5. Presidio (neighborhood)

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  • Jacey & Scott Mahaffy

    Trippy Ambassadors are elite members of the community, hand picked to help you travel better! Interested? E-mail us at ambassadors@trippy.com.

    answered by

    Fisherman's Wharf is a lot of fun, busy, bustling and crowded-but ultimately not very local anymore. Head to the western part of the city, all the way out Geary Blvd to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area-the views back through the channel and of the "other" side of Golden Gate Bridge are beautiful. If you don't have time, ride the Cable Cars-they give you a lovely view of large parts of San Francisco!

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  • Nitin Grewal

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