Alcatraz Island offers a close-up look at the site of the first lighthouse and US built fort on the West Coast, the infamous federal penitentiary long off-limits to the public, and the historic 18-month occupation by Indians of All Tribes. Rich in history, there is also a natural side to the Rock-gardens, tide pools, bird colonies, and bay views beyond compare. The most important thing to know when planning a trip to Alcatraz is that all access to the island is through a private ferry company under contract with the National Park Service, Alcatraz Cruises LLC.
With the likes of Henri Matisse and Diego Rivera gracing its walls, this institution in San Francisco's Yerba Buena neighborhood is one of the premier modern art facilities in the world. However, much of its vibrancy comes the rotating exhibits of contemporary artists, who range in discipline from sculpture to interactive art.
This bright white tower atop Telegraph Hill lends San Francisco a European feel. Take the elevator to the top for stunning views, and keep an eye on the lookout for the famous flock of parrots that sometimes perch in the cypress trees along the hill's slopes.
For the history of San Francisco's founding and some of the best Latino cuisine in the United States, you have to visit "The Mission." This enclave south of downtown is where you'll find Mission Dolores, the oldest structure in San Francisco and the sixth of California's famous missions.
Pier 39 is filled with fun attractions, but the pick of the bunch is the Aquarium of the Bay, where exhibits such as a 300-foot glass tunnel under the sea allow kids to understand San Francisco Bay's incredible ecosystem firsthand. Shark Week is every week at Aquarium of the Bay!
With sweeping views of the city and bay, AT&T Park is considered by many to be one of best parks in baseball. During Giants games, the park offers the added thrill of watching home runs land in San Francisco Bay just beyond the right field stands. The stadium also holds many special events throughout the year. Tour Information: Hour-long behind-the-scenes tours are available every day at 10:30am and 12:30pm rain or shine, except when day games are scheduled at AT&T Park.
Foreign Cinema is a 'one of a kind', nationally acclaimed restaurant combining foreign and independent films with Cal-Med cooking. Enjoy an industrial chic setting, complete with outdoor courtyard, mezzanine and full bar.
The Exploratorium is an experimental, hands-on museum designed to spark curiosity regardless of age or familiarity with science. With hundreds of exhibits to touch, look through, pick up, and tinker with, let curiosity be the compass to endless discoveries! The Exploratorium is located in the Palace of Fine Arts, near the Golden Gate Bridge. The Exploratorium's legendary Tactile Dome is a pitch-black maze of twisting passageways, chutes and rooms that visitors can explore only by sense of touch (reservations are required).
Explore San Francisco's iconic Fisherman's Wharf, one of the world's most scenic and historic waterfront attractions. Resting on the rubble of buildings that were destroyed in the catastrophic earthquake and fire of 1906, today the Wharf vibrates with energy, offering delicious things to eat and fun things to do for the whole family.
Get out of town! Exchange the big-city charms of San Francisco for the fresh air and natural beauty of Yosemite, California's most famous national park. You'll spend around four hours within Yosemite: one hour with the group, and approximately three hours to explore the scenic wonders of Yosemite Valley independently.
If you're looking for a beautiful outing that's not too far from the city, head to Muir Woods National Monument, where coastal redwood trees tower over a lush forest ecosystem. When John Muir learned that William and Elizabeth Kent were naming a redwood forest near San Francisco in his honor, he declared, "This is the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world."
One of the most bewildering mansions in the world, the Winchester Mystery House has stairways that lead to the ceiling, doors that open into walls, and a profound history of the occult. Designed by the mystifying mind of Sarah Winchester, widow of the well-known rifle manufacturer, the bizarre house and its grounds are now open to guided tours for intrigued visitors.
A must-visit for any age group, Raging Waters is a water park that provides everything from mile-a-minute thrills to the relaxing undulations of floating along the Lazy River. For the adrenaline junkie, a ride down Blue Thunder/White Lightning will have you grinning down all 60 feet of snaking twists and turns.
The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum brings ancient Egypt to downtown San Jose. A variety of artifacts ranging from sarcophagi to religious pieces are all on display to give patrons a glimpse into ancient Egyptian life. The Tomb Tour, one of the most popular exhibits, encompasses composite replicas of various tombs found throughout Egypt, complete with hieroglyph-adorned walls and rooms filled with artifacts.
Tossing aside the old adage of "look but don't touch," the Tech Museum of Innovation is a hands-on center that seeks to both entertain and educate. With exhibits that take visitors into the virtual world where they can design a museum or construct a rollercoaster, The Tech is setting the bar for a 2.0 museum revolution.
Acquerello, named for its original watercolors, envelops guests in a warm and gracious atmosphere the moment they arrive. A recent renovation of the 20-year old restaurant, led by designer John Wheatman, highlights the former chapel, graced with arches and a rustic wood-beamed vaulted ceiling, with warm Mediterranean colors of gold and terracotta. Co-owners Giancarlo Paterlini and Suzette Gresham-Tognetti work together to provide an unparallel Italian dining experience. Acquerello has received countless awards, including a Michelin star in the first-ever 2007 Bay Area guide.
Slanted Door is a modern Vietnamese restaurant that showcases the abundance of produce as well as ecologically farmed meat, game and poultry found at farms around the San Francisco Bay Area.
Dine on delectables like Red Quinoa Salad and Smoked Grit Fries, or indulge in the Chambers Burger featuring shiitake relish, manchego cheese, watercress and kewpie mayo served on a brioche everything bun with savory thyme kennebec fries. Chambers offers lunch, dinner, weekend brunch, and a $40 Chef's Tasting Menu Tues-Sat from 6-9pm.
Bar Crudo is a modern raw bar offering an elegant menu of cooked, chilled, or raw, fresh seafood paired with wine and an extensive selection of Belgian beer.
Aziza offers an elegant and stylish dining experience. Chef/owner Mourad Lahlou is a leader in modernizing Moroccan cuisine and adapting it to a western style fine dining setting. His innovative cuisine combines artisinal products and organic market ingredients, intense flavors and stunning presentations all combined with a progressive Californian influence.
Kokkari (pronounced "Ko-Kar-ee") is a small fishing village located on the islands of Samos in the Aegean Sea, whose name is derived from the small onions that were once produced in the nearby fields. Dine at Kokkari Estiatorio on food "fit for the Gods," prepared with an Aegean palate and the style of innovative California fare.
La Ciccia is a cozy and intimate restaurant located on the edge of Noe Valley. Husband and wife owners Massimiliano Conti and Lorella Degan work together to take you to a culinary journey through the Italian island of Sardinia. The chef is committed to use the freshest and the most authentic ingredients from his native island, resulting in pungent, lively, flavorful food.
Chouchou is a French Bistro with a Provencal feel. Homemade chocolate fondue and caramelized fruit tart are a specialty along with seafood and meat cassolettes. Chouchou has a bright, colorful dining room with a casual yet chic bistro atmosphere.
No matter where you're from, the Front Porch welcomes you home with a good old-fashioned serving of southern hospitality. Cozy up to a plate of crawfish hush puppies with spicy remoulade or pop in for weekend brunch to sample chicken and waffles, New Orleans-style beignets or biscuits and gravy.
Best Cuban restaurant in Silicon Valley for 14 years in a row! Located in the Rose Garden in downtown San Jose, Habana Cuba Restaurant's family tradition continues to enchant locals and visitors. Enjoy generous portions of authentic, original Cuban cuisine, and experience fine dining at its best. Our Latin flavors, colorful ambiance, and salsa rhythms are sure to create a memorable evening.
The newest addition to Santana Row, Thea is a celebration of Mediterranean cuisine with highlights from Greece and Turkey. An expansive bar and lounge features creative vodka infusions and a selection of Mediterranean and California wines. Authentic Greek art, a 20-foot olive tree and a stylish contemporary setting complete the experience.
Highlights at this popular Santana Row restaurant include spacious dining areas, an open kitchen with French rotisserie, a bustling bar and oyster display. Accents include a mahogany sunlit bar, revolving door, dining terraces, four private dining rooms and rich brasserie atmosphere.
This popular bistro in the Old Masonic building offers excellent Northern Italian cuisine in a beautiful atmosphere. Blond wood floors and Tuscan yellow walls adorn the inside.
High ceilings, geometric brickwork, hanging lights, and gracefully curved dining room create a sleekly intimate atmosphere at this upscale Japanese restaurant and lounge. Along with a sushi bar offering the freshest seasonal seafood in town, Bluefin's lunch and dinner menus offer deliciously prepared starters and entrees from noodles, teriyaki and bento boxes to Kobe beef and premium Japanese Wagyu beef dishes. Numerous varieties of sake, original house-crafted cocktails, and a generous sampling of domestic, Japanese and other wines and beers complete your evening. Just a short walk from the Sharks and other events at the HP Pavillion.
This unique family attraction puts an emphasis on letting children explore their creative sides. Kids can create their own animations, music videos and digital light paintings.
Located in the heart of San Francisco's Marina District, Nectar Wine Lounge brings together the very nectar which feeds the soul. Our 50 frequently metamorphosing wine selections by the glass span the vastness of the globe and of the palate, and our 900 selection bottle list offers something for even the most adventurous of spirit. Wines are also available for retail purchase. Executive Chef Gavin Schmidt crafts exquisite and mouth-watering dishes, utilizing a New Californian approach with International fusion. Our small plates tantalize the tongue and bring fullness and life to each wine-pairing. The Decor is a stunningly beautiful marriage of Chic, New York style with a distinctly San Francisco aesthetic that is at once both warm and cool.
On the border of SOMA and the Mission, Bergerac likes to think of itself as one part craft cocktail bar, one part lavish house party. If visiting with a small party, reservations can be made through SeatMe; for groups of 20 or more, please see their private events page.
There's a whole lot brewing at this ambitious specialty beer bar in the Tenderloin, a co-venture of the famous self-described 'gypsy brewer' Mikkel Borg Bjergs and Chuck Stilphen of The Trappist that boasts 40 hard-to-find international craft beers (including a slew of Mikkeller brews), along with another 100 in bottles; a small, midpriced upscale pub menu (think housemade sausage and smoked meats) is served all day in the minimalist Danish-looking digs anchored by a 30-seat, four-sided white oak bar and outfitted with antique streetlight fixtures from Copenhagen and whimsical artwork from Mikkeller's label artist.
According to the SF Weekly, "[The Fillmore] is legendary and one of the best venues anywhere: great sightlines, killer sound system, and - most importantly - a continuous parade of top musical talent gracing the stage. Whether it's country legends, indie iconoclasts, crossover punks, or rhyme-slinging hip-hop crews, this venerable S.F. institution has got it. If you're bored between acts, scope the photo gallery that lines every hallway wall with pictures of the icons who've shared the same space in which you're currently standing."
The Ferry Building Marketplace is a people's marketplace serving residents and travelers alike. Located within the historic Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street, shops large and small celebrate food in all its forms, offering everything from artisan cheeses to the freshest of local fish. Restaurants and cafes serve cuisine representing the quality and cultural diversity of San Francisco's best chefs.
Not to be confused with Union Square, this Victorian row in the northern part of the city offers plenty of shopping options along a long neighborhood street. You'll find stores like Lululemon, M.A.C., and Sunglass Hut, plus unique boutiques, jewelers, restaurants and bars, and shops of every kind.
Find department stores and glam brands galore with options including Macy's, Bloomingdale's, H&M, Gucci, and Chanel. Check their events calendar before you go to find art, happenings, live music, cultural performances, and more.
For the polar opposite of Union Square, serious shoppers head to the Fillmore neighborhood, where there is hardly a franchise in sight. Stop by Nest for handmade quilts or Neja Cosmetics for beauty products.
This lovely neighborhood between Alamo Square and Market Street has become the place for boutique shopping in the city. Head to Ver Unica for vintage clothing, Azalea for locally designed and savvy threads and Gimme Shoes for high-quality footwear.