- By Kevin
- On Jul 4, 2017
- North America
- Travel Tips
Newest travel guide to San Francisco for visitors who're planning there, including sightseeing and travel itineraries. Get to know the city with our guides to some of San Francisco's most popular areas. We’ve sifted through the city’s landmarks, parks and historic sites to select the essential San Francisco attractions.
The sixth of 21 California missions built along El Camino Real (the King's Highway), Mission Dolores was founded by Spanish padres in 1776 and is the oldest building in San Francisco—its four-foot-thick adobe walls having withstood both the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes. The old church is all that remains of a compound that once housed more than 4,000 padres and converts (mostly Costanoan Indians). Almost everything in the interior is original, from the redwood logs that hold up the roof to the ornate altars brought here from Mexico. The small museum, which offers volunteer-led tours, includes a pretty cemetery and garden, where the city's first mayor and notable early Spanish settlers are buried, along with the unmarked mass grave of 5,000 Native Americans. For film buffs, it's also the spot where an entranced Kim Novak visits the grave of the mysterious Carlotta Valdes in Hitchcock's Vertigo.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco's collective backyard, Golden Gate Park stretches for three miles between Haight-Ashbury and the Pacific Ocean and encompasses 1,017 acres of gardens, walking paths, lakes, recreation fields, museums, a Japanese tea garden, and innumerable areas for music events and recreational sports. The 1878 Conservatory of Flowers is the oldest building in the park and the oldest Victorian glass greenhouse in the Western Hemisphere.
The Koret Children's Quarter, built in 1887, is the oldest municipal children's playground in the country, revamped a few years ago into a state-of-the-art play park. The de Young Fine Arts Museum and the California Academy of Sciences anchor the quadrant between 9th Ave. and John F. Kennedy Drive, where on Sundays the main drive is closed to cars and strollers, bicyclists and rollerskaters take over the streets. At the western edge of the park where it meets the Pacific, the popular Beach Chalet and Park Chalet are great destination dining spots offering spectacular ocean views, house-brewed ales, and local fare.
Golden Gate Bridge
The world's most photographed bridge, the Golden Gate is one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the World, and its 746-foot red-orange towers never fail to thrill even when they're peeking out through a shroud of white fog. From the east side walkway, you can take in the soaring 4,200-foot spanner, the city skyline, Marin Headlands and the Pacific Ocean stretching to the horizon. East sidewalk hours are 5am–6:30pm (5am–9pm during Daylight Saving Time). Those on two wheels can access the bridge 24 hours a day through a security gate from both the west and east sidewalks.