San Francisco: Must-Sees?We're visiting San Fran in January! What do you recommend? What should we avoid?
From Joshua CounsilMerry Christmas, TPI!
Posted December 25, 2010 at 11:19 AM
As some of you may remember, we take a small vacation each Christmas rather than exchange gifts. This year, our surprise destination is San Francisco.
I know it's not a theme park topic, but I've had luck getting advice from this site on various cities, including Las Vegas, D.C., and New York. What do you recommend? What are the must-sees? What are the must-skips? Attractions, restaurants, sites, sounds, smells - all recommendations are welcome (except hotels - we're already set up in that department).
BTW, before you get any ideas about visiting the L.A. theme parks, I should state that we're staying strictly in San Fran.
Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.
From Joshua CounsilBump.
Posted December 29, 2010 at 10:14 PM
From James RaoJosh, the last time I was in SF, I was 12 years old... that was, uh, thirty years ago. So, my info would be woefully out of date. However, there is one place I remember going to a few times, even now that I am an old man: the Winchester Mystery House. Now, I think it is actually closer to San Jose, but if you can make the trip you won't regret it.
Posted December 30, 2010 at 7:48 AM
From Joshua CounsilThanks for the response, James. As amazing as that mystery house sounds, there seems to be so much to do in San Fran that we're strictly limiting ourselves to locations reachable by walking or taking a cable car.
Posted December 30, 2010 at 11:12 AM
One of the challenges of deciding what to do is that each attraction seems to polarize critics and tourists. It's quite different from, say, Orlando, where most people can agree on which parks/attractions/restaurants excel. For example, The Unofficial Guide to San Francisco lists the Museum of Modern Art as a five-star (must-see) attraction, a difficult-to-attain rating in that guide. However, TripAdvisor.com lists it as only #88 in the top attractions. Frommer's gives the attraction a moderate recommendation, warning that "for the money the experience can be disappointing".
Therefore, I turn to the Insiders on this site, people whose reviews I know and trust. The success or miserable failure of this trip depends solely on your recommendations! No pressure, though.
From Nick MarkhamFirst off, if you have the opportunity, you should try visiting either Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, California's Great America, or both if possible. Both have some good coasters and in my opinion are underrated. If you can only choose one, go with SFDK as that one is a park most find to be better, plus, you can pass up the opportunity to ride an elephant now can you!
Posted December 30, 2010 at 12:10 PM
Also, the Walt Disney Museum just opened up really close to the Golden Gate Bridge. The museum is all Disney related and shows pieces from Walt's career including some historical pieces of concept art and more for Disneyland and Disney World.
Other than that, the usual Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, and Ghiradelli Square are all must sees in San Francisco!
From James RaoUnderstood, Joshua. Inside the city the only things I remember doing were eating Dungeness crab somewhere in Fishermans Wharf (maybe Pier 39 Crab House?), visiting the Wax Museum (I had nightmares), and touring Alcatraz. Other than that, I just remember walking... lots and lots of walking.
Posted December 30, 2010 at 12:31 PM
From M. Ryan TraylorRide the cable car.
Posted December 31, 2010 at 1:05 PM
There is also a "Vertigo" tour, seeing some of the exterior places that the movie was filmed. "Scottie's" apartment is one block from the bottom of the famous winding Lombard street. "Judy's" apartment building (The Empire) is now converted in Hotel Vertigo.
From Joshua CounsilWe have a couple of ideas. We're thinking of experiencing Fisherman's Wharf - the submarine and Musee Mecanique, in particular. We plan on hitting Alcatraz for the night tour, as well. The Academy of Sciences is likely going to be in the itinerary.
Posted January 1, 2011 at 11:55 PM
From Nick MarkhamHow could you of all people leave out the Walt Disney Museum!!
Posted January 2, 2011 at 9:18 AM
From Joshua CounsilThe Walt Disney Museum is on the maybe list. Certain sources recommended it highly while others said to skip it. The museum is easily a half-day attraction. Considering the amount of free things to do in San Fran, we may have to pass on it. However, it's up there on my list.
Posted January 2, 2011 at 11:26 PM
This discussion has been archived, and is not accepting additional responses.
Theme Park Insider: Orlando 2014
Get all of Theme Park Insider's reader ratings, tips, and advice for planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, or SeaWorld, in our new 2014 Orlando guidebook! It's more than 200 pages of well-tested, insider information that will help you get the most from your vacation.
Order now: Kindle | iBooks | Paperback | Kindle (UK)
Theme Park Insider Guidebooks
Top U.S. Theme Parks
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Other Top International Parks
Readers' Top Themed Rides
Top Roller Coasters
Top Theme Park Shows
Features, News and Advice
2014 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar.
2013 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2012 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2011 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2010 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2009 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2008 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2007 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2006 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2005 Blog PostsDec.
2004-2005Staff column archive