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San Francisco, San Jose

Top things to see in San Francisco & San Jose?

Visiting SF and San Jose and want to know what are the top 3 things to see in each city?

6 Answers

answered by
Konrad from Washington, DC

There are some many great things to see in San Francisco. Having just finished a mobile guide to the city for TripScout, I do have a few thoughts. If only doing 3 things, I'd focus wandering around a few 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.

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 to learn more or download the app here.

Enjoy your trip! This tie-dyed, technicolor wonderland is a haven for open minds and free spirits.  All are welcome, the food is world-class, and the scenery is breathtaking. As Herb Caen said, "One day if I go to heaven... I'll look around and say, 'It ain't bad, but it ain't San Francisco."

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Mission District (neighborhood)
  2. Haight-Ashbury (attraction)
  3. North Beach (neighborhood)
2 thanks

answered by
David from San Jose

In San Francisco, the usual is Alcatraz (need to reserve ahead of time), the piers along the Embarcadero Center (Pier 39 being the most known - kind of tourist trap though), Golden Gate Park is beautiful and the golden gate bridge which is a must (from Conzelman Rd the view of the bridge + city is amazing).  Rent a bike at pier 39 and you can cross the Golden Gate Bridge on bike (weather and wind permitting).

In San Jose, well it's not as much as a place for tourism but Big Basin State Park for the giant redwoods (need a car and a good GPS), Stanford University is impressive (church, museum,...) and next to the nice downtown Palo Alto.  You might want to visit downtown San Jose.  Maybe just driving a little more south (35 minutes) to Santa Cruz will be fun.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Alcatraz (attraction)
  2. Embarcadero Center (attraction)
  3. Pier 39 (attraction)
  4. Golden Gate Park (attraction)
  5. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
  6. San Jose (city)
  7. Big Basin State Park (attraction)
  8. Stanford University (attraction)
  9. Palo Alto (city)
  10. Santa Cruz (city)
1 thanks

answered by
Michael from San Jose

San Francisco

1. Golden Gate Bridge- First, drive across or walk across (for Maximum experience...and work out) the bridge. Then, from the other side (Marin area ). You can relax and hangout the Vista Point view of the City, Alcatraz, Angel Island , San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, etc.). Head down to Sausalito for a lunch or further exploration. This is about 10 min. drive down the Vista Point. Then drive back to the Vista Point to go up Marin Headlands to view the bridge from the top and to see the Army Battery fort and lighthouse; you can also see the mouth of the bay leading to great Pacific Ocean horizon.

2. Fisherman's Wharf area and embarcadero- Take cable car at Ghirardelli for a cable car to Union Square (Downtown SF). Along the way You can take a view of Lombard St. (Crookedest Street), San Francisco Chinatown (Savor the meals), Top view of the Embarcadero.

3. Golden Gate Park- Here you have the Museums (De Young Museum and California Academy of Sciences - with an awesome Planetarium), a Japanese Tea Garden, Botanical Gardens, etc. The park is also close to Haight-Ashbury for a 60s Trip.

San Jose

I am a proud San Josean- here is my list of top 3 things to see and do-

1. Downtown San Jose- with free San Jose Museum of Art, The Tech Museum of Innovation, South First Street Galleries,SAP Center at San Jose for Sharks Hockey Game. Multitudes of fusion restaurants and local foodie delight- Don't miss Iguanas Burritos with their mega Burittozilla.

2. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park- if you like hiking and outside adventures- This is a large park with for trailwalks, biking, fishing, and wildlife- You may spot a rare California Condor here - this is a sanctuary area for them. Shop at Gilroy Premium Outlets- about 15 mins from the park, if shopping is included in your itenerary.

3. Watch a concert or spend a day wine tasting at  The Mountain Winery. The starry skies and the view of San Jose are is awesome in this venue. Another close outdoor area here is the Sanborn County Park- County of Santa Clara. Did I say they have Redwood trees! Awesome giant forest close to the city proper with many great trails. While your at it- visit the downtown Saratoga area- they have great cozy restaurants and cafe after day of activities.

honorable mention-

Pass by the Stanford University Cantor Art Center  (Palo Alto) to see Auguste Rodin sculptures and Impressionistic paintings.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. San Francisco (city)
  2. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
  3. Alcatraz (attraction)
  4. Angel Island (attraction)
  5. San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge (attraction)
  6. Marin Headlands (attraction)
  7. Fisherman's Wharf (attraction)
  8. Union Square (attraction)
  9. San Francisco Chinatown (attraction)
  10. Golden Gate Park (attraction)
  11. De Young Museum (attraction)
  12. California Academy of Sciences (attraction)
  13. Japanese Tea Garden (attraction)
  14. Haight-Ashbury (attraction)
  15. San Jose (city)
  16. San Jose Museum of Art (attraction)
  17. The Tech Museum of Innovation (attraction)
  18. SAP Center at San Jose (attraction)
  19. Iguanas (restaurant)
  20. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park (attraction)
  21. Gilroy Premium Outlets (attraction)
  22. The Mountain Winery (restaurant)
  23. Sanborn County Park (attraction)
1 thankscomments (1)

answered by
John from Alaska

Hi! I would totally recommend checking out the San Francisco Ferry Bldg. Get a blue bottle coffee & ice cream right next to it!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. San Francisco Ferry Bldg (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Christina from Brooklyn, New York

Be a local and Hike Lands End, have drinks in Dolores Park and Spend an afternoon with a beer at Zeitgeist 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lands End (attraction)
  2. Dolores Park (attraction)
  3. Zeitgeist (restaurant)
1 thanks

answered by
Tal from New York, New York

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Golden Gate Bridge (attraction)
  2. California Academy of Sciences (attraction)
  3. Alcatraz (attraction)

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