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The term "Painted Ladies" refers to the row of impressive and beautiful Victorian houses that face the park on Steiner Street. Alamo Square Park, which is located at the top of a hill, provides a brilliant view of these architectural mansions. The Painted Ladies are depicted in many famous photographs and postcards of San Francisco and also features in the opening credits of the 90s TV series, Full House.
Since the beginning of the 20th Century, Union Square has been the centerpiece of the city's shopping district. With big names like Burberry, Emporio Armani, Macy's and Kate Spade lining the streets, this is the place to go for retail therapy. If you need to fuel up after a long day of shopping, Union Square has a variety of dining options, from the ultra-posh to the quick stops. At the heart of the square, a large open-air plaza is bustling year round with art sales, musical performances and holiday decorations. In the center of it all stands a huge stone monument, which was built in 1903 and crowned with a bronze statue of Victory.
This impressive structure crowning Nob Hill was built on the site of the Crocker Mansion after the 1906 earthquake and fire. One of the main attractions of the cathedral are the stained glass windows. These windows showcase over 1000 figures, with some of them dating back as far as the 1930s. The gilded bas-reliefs that adorn the doors of the main entrance are cast from Ghiberti's original molds for the Gates of Paradise that adorn the Baptistery in Florence. The cathedral also boasts two labyrinths. The outdoor one is made of Terrazzo stone and the indoor one from limestone.
Chinatown, one of the busiest areas in the city, is a hodgepodge of shops, restaurants and businesses of every kind. The vibrant and close-knit community that lives within this neighborhood has also made it one of San Francisco's top tourist destinations. Thankfully, there are many side streets, quiet shops and traditional restaurants that provide some relief from the bustle outside. Try your luck at one of the hundreds of dining options in the area, especially those serving Dim Sum, as they can be some of the best in the city. Also make sure to stop in some of the small herbal shops for some unusual trinkets and art.
Haight-Ashbury is a district in San Francisco named after the intersections of Haight and Ashbury Streets, known to many as The Haight. It encompasses the area from Golden Gate Park and Oak Street to Baker Street and the Buena Vista Park. This district is famous for its role in the 1960s hippie movement, and remains a popular tourist attraction for its bohemian vibe. Many restored Victorian houses can still be found gracing the streets in the neighborhood.
As much a trademark of the city's skyline as the Golden Gate Bridge, this 853-foot (260-meter) high masterpiece is the tallest office tower in the city of San Francisco and is home to some of San Francisco's leading corporate organizations. Designed by world-renowned architects William L. Pereira and Harry D. Son, viewing the tower under the bright San Francisco skies is truly a breathtaking experience. Even though the elevator that ascends to the building's uppermost heights is no longer open to the public, there are a series of four high-definition video cameras installed on its primary spire that allow visitors to virtually experience how it feels to be at the top of the tower. The camera installations are collectively known as the Transamerica Virtual Observation Deck.
This picturesque stretch of Lombard Street has eight tight turns on a single block. They twist at very acute angles, making for very slow going if you are in a car. Although, oddly enough, cars were the reason for designing the street this way back in 1922. The idea was that this design would make it easier for them to negotiate the steep 16% grade. The drive is usually bumper-to-bumper and in the summertime, there is almost always a line of cars waiting to take the drive down. That being said, going for a stroll along this landmark is a good option, especially when the hydrangeas along the sidewalk are in bloom.
The Ferry Building Marketplace is a must-see for San Francisco visitors. This multi-million dollar development has an abundance of activities for the entire family. This marvelous building was designed by renowned architect Arthur Page Brown in Beaux Arts Style. Similar to that of the iconic Giralda Bell Tower in Seville, the clock tower of this building is a popular landmark and call be seen from afar. Take a tour of the historic Ferry Building, browse through antique shops, enjoy a view by the bay and a bowl of chowder at Ferry Plaza Seafood or buy organic produce at the Farmer's Market. Enjoy the sights and sounds of what makes the Ferry Building one of the Bay's most popular destinations for entertainment, food, and fun.
Conventional wisdom holds that this iconic monument is shaped like a fire-hose nozzle. It is not, at least not by design. The tower is the gift of Lilly Hitchcock Coit, an eccentric heiress who managed to stand out in a city that teems with eccentricity. Lilly's particular passion was for the San Francisco Fire Department. The money she left in her will for the city's beautification was used to construct the Art Deco tower on Telegraph Hill in 1932. The view from here is one of the most impressive in San Francisco, offering unrestricted sights of the scenic Bay, the neighboring bridges, and the Marin Headlands. Inside, the first floor is ornamented with excellent murals, commissioned in 1933, that depict San Francisco's history. The tower's summit can be accessed by taking its elevator for a small fee.
Don't leave San Francisco without a stroll through this legendary square nearby Fisherman's Wharf, which is named after San Francisco's original chocolate-maker. There is a bakery and several restaurants and, of course, there's the Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop where you can savor the deliciousness of the old-fashioned Ghirardelli sundae or buy some sweet goodies to bring back. Take some time and visit the art galleries, gift and specialty stores, and shoe and clothing shops.
Twin Peaks is the second highest point in San Francisco, comprising of two hills at a height of 922 feet. The Twin Boulevard is the only road that divides the peaks and goes to the summit. This hill has a number of tele-communication towers for radio and television transmission. The Sutro Tower is the most prominent tower amongst these and it is owned by the San Francisco Fire Department. The tower provides water to the local people and fire stations. This tower can be seen across the bay.
Fisherman's Wharf remains one of San Francisco's most popular tourist destinations. The Wharf consists of a long, waterfront row of seafood restaurants, street vendors, souvenir stores and beautiful ocean scenery. Fisherman's Wharf was originally a major fishing pier, and although San Francisco fishing industry is alive and well, it mainly appeals to the masses as a tourist sight. Some of the wharf's main attractions include Pier 39, Ghirardelli Square, Musee Mecanique and Madame Tussauds among many others. The wharf's shores are beautified by the presence of the majestic Balao-class submarine USS Pampanito. Parking is limited on the wharf itself so parking downtown would be highly recommended.