Walk in the footsteps of some of the country’s most notorious criminals when you visit “The Rock.” Built as a military fortress in 1859 to protect the bay, it was converted into a military prison in 1907 and a famed maximum-security facility in 1934. Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Robert Franklin Stroud (aka “The Birdman of Alcatraz”) were all held here. But don’t just go for the tour; go for the scenic boat ride, too, with magnificent views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
San Francisco Zoo
Home to more than 1,000 species, the San Francisco Zoo promises an enjoyable afternoon of strolling and animal-watching. Thirty of its animals are endangered, including the snow leopard, Bengal tiger, and jaguar. In the Primate Discovery Center, you can see more than 15 primates and at Koala Crossing, designed to replicate an Australian Outback station, glimpse various creatures from Down Under.
Cheer on the Giants at their home stadium in South Beach. The Giants were World Series champions in 2010, 2012 and 2014. The park is accessible via the city’s Muni Metro system and enjoys a scenic bayside setting.
Yerba Buena Gardens
This impressive multi-venue cultural and entertainment center is one of the city’s most ambitious undertakings, an inviting blend of open outdoor space and intriguing architecture. Stroll the Esplanade, catch a show at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, browse the collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, or explore the children’s arts programs at Zeum.
In many ways, exploring Haight Ashbury is like stepping back into the counterculture of the 1960s. “Flower Power” was born among its Victorian mansions, bohemian-style cafes, and – perhaps most famously – Castro Street and its namesake theater. Still today, it is one of the most unconventional districts of San Francisco, celebrated for its carefree spirit and diverse mix of residents.
The longest occupied region of the city, the Presidio was founded by New Spain in 1776. Evidence of its past as a military fortification is everywhere, from Fort Point (today nestled in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge) to old barracks to a military cemetery. But the centerpiece of today’s Presidio is the Palaces of Fine Arts and the Exploratorium. Admire its neoclassical Rotunda, an architectural masterpiece, and experience its science museum, considered the most engaging in the country.
Golden Gate Park
Landscape gardening reaches its peak at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco’s answer to New York’s Central Park. Explore its winding pathways, three world-class museums, Japanese Tea Garden, all-glass Conservatory of Flowers, and Tulip Garden complete with a Dutch windmill. Leisurely diversions and delights appear around every corner in this spectacular pleasure park.