The 37 best sights of San Francisco – descriptions and photos

The 37 best sights of San Francisco – descriptions and photos

The most famous jail in the United States and, maybe, in the whole world, Alcatraz is not only a penitentiary (by the way, it functions only as a museum for more than 30 years), but also a small picturesque island in 15 minutes’ sail from the San Francisco pier.

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is the city’s most famous landmark and a symbol of San Francisco and the entire U.S. Pacific Coast. Hovering over the bay the beauty has appeared in hundreds of films and had its own website.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco can be called the main and most visited museum of the city. In addition to its vast collection of works of art from the 19th and 21st centuries, with more than 29,000 works, the museum is also notable for its ultra-modern building.

Coit Tower

Coit Tower stands on Telegraph Hill, where in the 19th century there was a semaphore that provided information about ships entering the port. It’s named after Lilly Coyt, who bequeathed substantial funds to build a fire hydrant that overlooks the entire city.

San Francisco Zoo

The San Francisco Zoo was founded in 1929. It took 10 years to build, starting with an island of monkeys, a lion house, an elephant house, a sea lion pool, and bear grottos. They were the first enclosures in the country to keep animals in conditions as close to natural as possible.

San Francisco Ropeway Trams

An amazing means of transportation used with equal interest by San Francisco residents and visitors, the rope streetcars seem to have teleported into the ultramodern metropolis straight from the 19th century. The vintage streetcars have been running the streets of the “Fran” for the second century.

Lombard Street

Eight steep turns on a 400-meter stretch of Russian Hill and a surface slope of almost 30 degrees made Lombard Street the most photographed street in “San Fran.”

Museum of Asian Art in San Francisco

The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco is the largest museum in the New World devoted exclusively to Asian art. Its vast collection includes more than 15 thousand pieces of art from India, China, Japan, Indonesia and other Asian regions.

California Academy of Sciences Museum

Covering an area of 4,000 square meters, the museum offers the most complete overview of the evolution of life on Earth since its creation, and encompasses all the diversity of ecosystems that exist today.

De Young Museum

Great collections of anthropological artifacts to trace the history of mankind, plus an excellent collection of 19th and 20th century American art are the main reasons why the de Young Museum is among the most visited museums in San Francisco.

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Ripley Museum “Believe it or not!”

As the museum’s official slogan says, it’s the only place in San Francisco (and, one would think, in the entire United States) where you can see a dried female torso, a mummified leg of an Egyptian mummy, paintings made from tape recorder, and an elephant with two trunks.

Wells Fargo Museum

Much of the Wells Fargo Museum’s exhibit is dedicated to the glory years of the Gold Rush. Among the most interesting exhibits are samples of nuggets from various deposits, gold mining tools, clothing, shoes, and everyday objects of the gold miners.

Transamerica Pyramid

The architectural dominant feature of downtown San Francisco is the Transamerica Pyramid, popularly nicknamed the steeple. The graceful 48-story skyscraper, standing out sharply against the traditional “boxy” architecture, was erected in 1972 by the insurance corporation Transamerica Corp.

Pier 39

The popular San Francisco neighborhood of Pier 39, as the name implies, is located in the bay, on the site of the former piers, directly across from Alcatraz Island. Pier 39 is home to many stores, restaurants and cafes, amusement rides and entertainment venues.

Castro District

The Castro neighborhood is a section of the street of the same name from 19th Avenue to Market Street, famous all over the world as the center of the LGBT movement. Same-sex love advocates gradually flooded the area in the 1970s, before they lived here mostly Irish workers.

San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf

San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf is the city’s premier waterfront tourist district with plenty of entertainment. It has its own way of life, its own gastronomic traditions, and its own freaks that invariably bring a touch of creative madness to the wharf atmosphere.


San Francisco’s glorious Haight-Ashbury neighborhood made history in 1967 when a hundred thousand hippies gathered for the famed Summer of Love. Today Haight-Ashbury is still a vibrant, bustling, and lively San Francisco neighborhood.

Twin Peaks Hills.

Known primarily for the iconic Nineties TV series, the Twin Peaks hills rise above San Francisco and the harbor, hiding in a cloudy haze on foggy days. From the Twin Peaks Lookout you get a dizzying view of the city and the bay area.

Chinatown San Francisco

San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest place of compact residence for Chinese outside of the homeland. With a history spanning more than 150 years, Chinatown is home to nearly 200,000 citizens of the Chinese faithful living in 24 neighborhoods.


Non-boring science is the slogan of the Exploratorium Museum, located on Pier 15 of San Francisco Harbor. Created by the genius of the famous physicist Franz Oppenheimer and opened in 1969, the Exploratorium tells the story of the universe in a simple and fascinating way.

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The reckless atmosphere of otherness and fun is what most people come to San Francisco for. But it would be wrong to say that there is nothing to see here. Let Frisco is far from such monsters of American “excursions” as New York or Los Angeles – careful and interested traveler can find something to occupy himself, apart from bars, night clubs and other dances in the laser lights.

Even public transportation in San Francisco is not only noteworthy as a means of getting around the city – the historic cable cars have been running the streets since 1873.

A general portrait of San Francisco’s landmarks in rough strokes are several popular ocean-related tourist spots: the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Prison, Angel Island and the old shipyards, turned into a center of cultural life; the magnificent Museum of Modern Art; a tribute to nature – the spacious and well-kept Union Park plus the Napa Valley wine-growing expanse on the way out (yes, the best American wines come from here); finally – the obligatory Chinatown (no less interesting than in Los Angeles) and a witness to the city’s turbulent modern history – the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, where the hippie movement originated. By the way even public transportation in San Francisco is worth seeing not only as a means of getting around the city – historic cable cars have been running the streets since 1873.

Excursion infrastructure in San Francisco is developed “with a bang”: stops of the public transport are located right near the sights – so despite the long distances in the city and its not too convenient location on the hills, you can visit museums and see the buildings without too much physical effort.

San Francisco Attractions

Museum of Contemporary Art Alcatraz Prison Golden Gate Theater Coit Tower California Academy of Sciences Bay Bridge City Park Lombard Street

This site compiles San Francisco attractions – photos, descriptions, and travel tips. The list is based on popular guidebooks and is presented by type, name and rating. Here you’ll find answers to what to see in San Francisco, where to go, and where are the popular and interesting places in San Francisco.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Museum of Modern Art (photo)

An art museum in San Francisco that houses an extensive collection of art from the late 19th to 21st centuries.

The museum opened in 1935 and at the time was the only art museum on the west coast of the United States devoted exclusively to twentieth-century art. Today this museum features works by such masters of the brush, sculptors and designers as Henri Matisse, Marcel Duchamp, Ansel Adams, Franz Marc, Theo van Duisburg, Paul Klee, Jackson Pollock, Martin Kippenberger, Klaus von Bruch, Kerry James Marshall, Eero Saarinen – over 26,000 works in all.

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Coordinates: 37.78689400,-122.40113400

Alcatraz Prison

Alcatraz prison (photo)

Alcatraz prison is located on the island of the same name in the San Francisco Straits, in the United States. Since the 1850s, the island was a protective fort, later converted into a military prison. Then Alcatraz became a heavily guarded prison for repeat offenders and especially dangerous criminals. Prisoners were mostly transferred here from other prisons. Nowadays the prison has long since ceased to function as it was intended and has become a museum. It was closed in 1962, and in 1973 the island became accessible to visitors.

The prison was notorious for the fact that it was impossible to escape from it. In the eastern wing of the prison there were solitary confinement cells without basic facilities and where prisoners were kept in total darkness, the stay in them was considered one of the harshest punishments in the prison. The prisoners at Alcatraz lived under a strict daily routine that did not change for years. Each of them was entitled to food, clothing, medical care, and a roof over their heads. Prisoners earned additional privileges by hard work. Prison punishment was intensified by the proximity of San Francisco. It was a sophisticated torture for prisoners to see, hear, and smell freedom, but not be able to get there.

Such famous criminals as Al Capone, Henry Young, Robert Stroud and others served their sentences here.

Coordinates: 37.82761200, -122.42271500

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Golden Gate Theater

Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco (photo)

The Golden Gate Theater opened in 1922 as a vaudeville theater. In those days there was a strict dress code – men had to attend the theater wearing headgear and women had to wear evening gowns. Later, in the 1960s, the building was used as a cinema, but at the end of the 1970s it was reestablished as a theater stage for drama productions and musicals.

The theater generally runs the same musicals and shows that have already been shown in theaters on Broadway in New York City. The Golden Gate Theatre has performed such famous Broadway musicals as Mamma Mia, Chicago, and Blondie in Law.

The theater also hosts solo performances by famous performers. For example, in 2011 Diana Ross performed here and in September 2012 Olivia Newton-John, an Australian country singer, winner of four Grammy Awards.

Coordinates: 37.78246800,-122.41086400

In photo mode, you can view San Francisco landmarks by photo only.

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Coit Tower

Coit Tower (photo)

Coyt Tower is a beautiful vantage point on top of Telegraph Hill, and a unique monument to the history of the United States during the Great Depression. It was then, in the thirties of the last century, that Coit Tower was built. From Telegraph Hill, and even more so from the tower, there is a remarkable view of the city. The height of Coit Tower together with the hill is one hundred and fifty-five meters.

The original idea of building the tower in memory of the San Francisco firefighters changed, and the Tower became a kind of mini art gallery, reflecting the new trend in art of those years, which was called “New Taste”. The entire interior of the tower was decorated by San Francisco artists in the style of socialist realism. The motifs used in the decoration touch upon the pressing problems of agriculture, education, urban and rural life at the time, express social protest, and are full of a desire to inspire people to create a new ideal world. For example, the man in one of the murals is holding Marx’s Capital, and the books by Bukharin and Trotsky can be seen on the shelves behind.

On the way back from the Tower, you can take a pleasant walk down the scenic, steep steps of Filbert Street.

Coordinates : 37.80236300,-122.40580600

California Academy of Sciences.

California Academy of Sciences (photo)

U.S. scientific organization that exists in the form of a major natural history museum. It was founded in 1853. It is now engaged in scientific research, exhibitions, and education.

In 2008, the Academy moved into a new building in Golden Gate Park. Its construction lasted more than 10 years and cost the authorities $500 million. It includes not only scientific, office, administrative and museum departments, but also an aquarium, planetarium, scientific archive, library, botanical garden, lecture hall, 3D movie theater, two restaurants, Naturalist Center, terrace with lawns on the roof (the so-called “Green Roof”), bird aviary, and stores.

With its state-of-the-art construction, the Academy is one of the most modern museums in the world. On a space of 4,000 square meters there are dioramas with African animals, a giant skeleton of a tyrannosaur with its mouth open and many other exhibits.

A planetarium with a huge dome hangs over the world’s deepest imitation of a living coral reef. Another dome hides a real rainforest with 40 different species of birds. And the museum is home to over 10,000 different creatures.

Coordinates: 37.77057900,-122.46632300

Bay Bridge

Bay Bridge (photo)

The Bay Bridge is one of the most beautiful and longest bridges in the world. It was built in 1936 at a great angle, making it as vulnerable as possible. Today, nearly eighty years after its construction began, its deterioration can be seen with the naked eye. The earthquake that struck San Francisco in 1989 played a major role in its deterioration.

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Since 1993 a new bridge has been under construction parallel to the Bay Bridge, which in 2013 will completely replace the old Bay Bridge. The reality is that within the next two decades, San Francisco will be hit by a new earthquake, which the old Bay Bridge is unlikely to survive. More than six billion dollars has already been spent on the construction of the new bridge.

Coordinates: 37.81604600,-122.35302300

Golden Gate City Park.

Golden Gate City Park (photo)

San Francisco has a wonderful urban public park called Golden Gate Park. The park is a marvel of designer landscaping and is hugely popular with residents and visiting tourists alike.

Golden Gate Park stretches from the city center to the ocean. Its area exceeds 400 hectares. There are lakes with islands, valleys, hills, plains, forests, and waterfalls. The annual attendance of the park is approximately thirteen million. The park has all the conditions for hiking, biking, leisure, sports and recreation with children.

Golden Gate Park is divided into several main areas: the Academy of Science, the Conservatory of Flowers, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Botanical Gardens, the Bison enclosure, Stowe Lake, the Japanese Tea Garden, the mills and the music area.

Coordinates: 37.76900800,-122.48171000

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Lombard Street

Lombard Street (photo)

Lombard Street is one of those places that everyone has seen, yet didn’t know what it was called. Popularity has come to San Francisco’s famous winding street thanks to its participation in many feature films. Nevertheless, the street didn’t take this shape for the sake of flamboyance, but to smooth out the 27-degree slope of the hill on which it sits.

Lombard Street began to settle in the twenties of the last century. Of course, many residents wanted their own vehicles, but the steepness of the hill prevented them from even dreaming of such a luxury. To help them came the city administration, which convened a special commission to address the issue. As a result, it was decided to create a maximally curved street, which allowed to reduce the slope to a tolerable 16 degrees.

Coordinates : 37.79897800,-122.44399500

The most popular attractions in San Francisco with descriptions and photos for all tastes. Choose the best places to visit famous places in San Francisco on our website.

Additional San Francisco attractions

Museum of Contemporary Jewish Art, San Francisco (CA), USA Fort Mason, Downtown, USA Lotta Fountain, Downtown, USA San Francisco Cable Car, Downtown, USA Exploratorium, San Francisco (CA), USA San Francisco Zoo, Downtown, USA

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