San Francisco City Guide
Ready for a vacation full of rich history, unique architecture, gorgeous views and food and wine fit for froggy royalty? Look no further than San Francisco!
With its picturesque bay, hilly landscape and breathtaking, rolling fog, San Francisco got its start as a Spanish mission and pueblo before being conquered by the U.S. in 1846. In 1848, upon prospectors discovering gold, the Gold Rush kicked in, giving San Francisco the nickname “The Golden City.” The Gold Rush resulted in a population boom, but the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire largely destroyed the city. Upon rebuilding, the city became a center of wealth, progressive culture and technology.
In San Francisco, you’ll find a unique mixture of historic elements, such as Alcatraz, the iconic Painted Ladies and cable cars. You’ll also find a celebration of culture in the variety of museums, shops and landmarks such as Chinatown. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention all of the delicious food and drink awaiting you on your trip! Wrap it all up in unforgettable scenery, and you get a family vacation for the books.
Best Time to Visit
San Francisco’s infamous fog makes visits in the summer a bit chillier than you’d expect. Instead, the months of September through November are actually warmer than the summer months, with temperatures in the low 70s and mostly sunny skies, making ideal conditions for a visit.
What We Love
- Free admission at many of the city’s attractions, including indoor murals, the Cable Car Museum, the Wells Fargo Museum and the famed Golden Gate Bridge (if you’re crossing by foot); you can also catch some of the city’s architectural icons like the famed, crooked Lombard Street, the Painted Ladies of Alamo Square and City Hall at no charge
- The variety packed into each space (no matter the destination, there’s seemingly endless possibilities to keep you occupied — take Golden Gate Park, for example, which has over ten attractions to keep the whole frog family hoppin’, learning and having a frogtastic time)
- Delicious food — grab clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl from the flagship Boudin Bakery at Fisherman’s Wharf, a hot fudge sundae from the original Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Fountain at Ghirardelli Square or Mission-style burritos from the many local taquerias (which taqueria is best is up for debate)
- The many kid-friendly activities, from the Exploratorium, to the sea lions at Pier 39, to the Aquarium of the Bay
Fun Facts About San Francisco
- The color of the Golden Gate Bridge is called International Orange. It was the primer used to protect the steel for the bridge during transit rather than a color from the original list of paint options (black-and-yellow stripes was one of the original contenders).
- In 1906, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit Northern California; over 3,000 people died, and the resulting fires destroyed over 80% of the city.
- The city’s cable cars are the only National Historical Monument that can move.
- San Francisco is actually built on buried ships from the Gold Rush era.
- San Francisco has four Chinatowns; the one located on Grant Avenue is the biggest Chinatown outside of Asia.
Be sure to wear good walking shoes! San Francisco is built on more than 50 named hills. While public transportation will do the lion’s share of the work (thanks, cable cars!), walking hills all day is no easy task.