San Francisco – The Greatest Hits

San Francisco – The Greatest Hits

Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or a wide-eyed tourist clutching your first passport, San Francisco has it all and is one of the easier US cities to get to, with China Airlines flying daily from Singapore with a convenient connection in Taipei Airport (book here). In fact, trying to see everything in San Fran could easily turn your relaxing holiday into a mad dash to tick the boxes, especially if you’re only going to be there for a couple of days.

So let us break it down for you – here’s our must-see countdown of the best sites in San Francisco.

5. Cable Cars
San Francisco Cable Cars (photo credit Pius Lee)

Admittedly, 10 kilometres of sprawling track through the city’s heart can’t really be called a tourist site. But for a first-timer in San Francisco, the cable cars really are a must. First constructed in 1873, there were once twenty-three lines running through San Francisco. Today, the network is the world’s last remaining manually operated cable car system, with only three lines left. Most users are tourists, but that really shouldn’t put you off because the cable cars are an awesome way to see the city.

Single trips on the cable cars are $6 each way, no matter the distance. But, if you plan on spending the day riding up and down the city’s hills, you might want to opt for the day pass at $17.

The most popular line of the cable cars is the Powell/Hyde line, which goes over the Hyde/Lombard Hill, giving you an unobstructed view of Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay. Most conveniently, the line ends near our next destination, which is…

4. Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, California (photo credit - T photography)

Called the City by the Bay, the sea is definitely a big part of San Francisco’s history and economy, making Fisherman’s wharf a great catch for any tourist. The Wharf itself has been home to San Francisco’s fishing fleet for over a century, and most of the people who run the boats today are descendants of the first immigrants who docked there at the turn of the 20th century.

As a Singaporean, the most important part about all of this is obviously the opportunity for delicious, fresh seafood.

Grab a bite to eat at one of many seafood restaurants in the area, then walk off your meal by exploring the sites of the Wharf. But best of all is Pier 39, which makes Fisherman’s Wharf worth visiting even if you’re deathly allergic to seafood and hate boats, because that’s where a colony of sea lions call home. In winter, the number of sea lions can shoot up, from the usual 300+ to around 900! The area of the Wharf is also home to Ripley’s Believe it or Not on 175 Jefferson Street, and the Aquarium of the Bay, also located at Pier 39.

3. Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, USA.

Now that you’ve had your fill of cute sea lions and carefree bay-side walks, it’s time for something a little darker. From Pier 33 at Fisherman’s wharf, catch a ferry to the next destination: Alcatraz Island. Known as ‘The Rock’, Alcatraz was a military prison since 1868, and then a federal prison from 1933-1963. The prison, which once held (in)famous criminals such as gangster Al Capone and murderer Robert Stroud (a.k.a. the birdman of Alcatraz), now houses thousands of morbidly curious tourists a year instead, offering a rare and fascinating look into prison life. The lighthouse is also the oldest one in operation along the West Coast.

Before your trip to Alcatraz, be sure to book your tickets in advance from the Alcatraz Cruises website, where your ticket will include ferry transportation to and from the island, and a cellhouse audio tour in 10 different languages. Tickets cost $30 for adults and $18.25 for children aged 5-11, but there are some package deals and occasional early bird discounts even your mother would approve of, so check the site for more information.

2. Muir Woods

Muir Woods

We really weren’t kidding when we said San Francisco had some amazing history – human and otherwise. Muir Woods is a 40-minute drive out of San Francisco, and home to soaring 250-foot-tall Redwood Trees that are over a thousand years old. If your husband is still sulking about that time you skipped the Lord of the Rings tour in New Zealand, walking among the ancient Redwoods literally feels like stepping into Middle Earth. It’s an awe-inspiring way to spend the day, and highly recommended.

Plus, you get to walk off some of that seafood you ate. There are several hiking trails, with paved ½-, 1-, and 1½-mile loop walks, and also some extended unpaved trails for the more experience hikers. Admission to the park costs $7 for adults, but is free for children under 15.

1. Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

This one is kind of duh but we’re going to say it anyway – the Golden Gate Bridge is probably San Francisco’s most recognisable landmark, and the park that surrounds it is just as visit-worthy, if only so you can get the perfect picture with the Bridge in the background. The Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937, is 1,300m long, and is not so much gold as a lovely burnt orange in colour. Visit at sunset (or dawn, if you’re a morning person) for the very best light.

Jump off bus 28 from the bridge and arrive at the Golden Gate Park, which is a truly beautiful park. Walking around the park is almost like taking a trip around the world, as the park is home to the Dutch Windmill built in 1902, a Japanese tea garden created in 1894, and the Conservatory of Flowers, a Victorian style greenhouse built in 1879. The Park is also a natural haven, with its beautiful Stow Lake, which has an iconic cobblestone bridge, and even a bison paddock at the Park’s western end. A stroll around the Park is the perfect way to end your day (and trip) in San Francisco.

Getting There

China Airlines flies daily from Singapore to San Francisco with a connection at Taipei airport. With easy connection timings both ways, China Airlines provides an excellent service from Singapore to San Francisco. You can search your flight and book directly at www.china-airlines.com.

China-Airlines---SIN-SFO-Schedule

 

Because you need more comfort, especially on the longer Taipei – San Francisco flight, starting in July, China Airlines is using brand new Boeing 777 aircraft, equipped with Premium Economy seats (longer leg room and recline!) and Family Couch (three economy class seats converted in a wide flat bed – great for kids!).

China Airlines Premium Economy Seats on the Boeing 777

China Airlines Premium Economy Seats on the Boeing 777

China Airlines Family Couch on the Boeing 777. Wider and flat, perfect for kids.

China Airlines Family Couch on the Boeing 777. Wider and flat, perfect for kids.

 

 

This article is supported by China Airlines

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