In the late 1800s, California's first state engineer, William Hammond Hall, and his assistant, a Scotsman named John McLaren, transformed more than 1000 acres (405 hectares) of sand dunes into a wondrous haven in the midst of the city, christened Golden Gate Park after the eponymous strait nearby. Stretching over 50 blocks from Stanyan Street to the Pacific Ocean, the lush landscape is etched with numerous trails for walking, jogging, biking and horseback riding, alongside a golf course, bowling greens, a lake with paddle boats, soccer fields and a baseball diamond. From the Japanese Tea Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers to the California Academy of Sciences and the De Young Museum, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park encompasses a wealth of scenic beauty and cultural intrigue within is expansive embrace. There are also several playgrounds, a quaint carousel, an aquarium, a buffalo reserve and an outdoor bandshell where open-air concerts are hosted each summer.
Named one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Golden Gate Bridge spans the eponymous strait that links the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. Designed by Joseph Strauss, Irving Morrow, and Charles Ellis, the bridge opened in 1937 as the world's longest suspension bridge, its main span measuring at an impressive 4,200 feet (1,280 meters) in length. The bridge is not quite golden, but is instead a bright orange, its Art Deco towers looming through the dense fog that often mires the bay; a sight that has come to be emblematic of the city of San Francisco. The bridge ferries vehicular and pedestrian traffic between San Francisco and Marin City, the vista points on either side boasting awe-inspiring views of the Golden Gate, while the bridge itself promises unmatched views of the bay.
This San Francisco landmark features some of Fisherman's Wharf's best shopping and attractions. Ride the carousel, people-watch, or take in the view of the bay. There are more than 25 one-of-a-kind gift stores that carry automobile, Hollywood, and rock 'n' roll memorabilia, as well as flags of the world, Russian dolls, collectible knives, hammocks, kites, and more. But that's not all. You will find over 30 more stores, including the famous Na Hoku to shop for clothing, jewelry and toys. It is a great place to pick up high-end San Francisco souvenirs. When you're done shopping and eating to your heart's content, visit the famous resident sea lions for a prime photo op session. Pier 39 is a magnet for locals and tourists for many reasons, including their nearly year-round calendar of special attractions for the whole family like the Tulipmania tulip festival held in late February on both levels of Pier 39 or the Holiday Tree Lighting in November.
Redwood Regional Park is located in the hills of Oakland. It boasts the largest remaining natural strand of coastal redwood in the East Bay. Early mariners used to use these tall redwood trees to help them navigate the San Francisco Bay. Many locals enjoy hiking and biking around the available trails, which offers gorgeous scenery. In addition to the deer, rabbits and squirrels that roam the park, it is also home to rare wildlife species such as the golden eagle and the striped racer snake. The Roberts Regional Recreation Area, a park within the park, features a swimming pool and playgrounds. Throughout the park, you will find access to a well-maintained system of restrooms, water fountains and picnic tables. The Chabot Observatory and Science Center is one of the park's most prominent attractions.
This popular park is a 2,077-acre wilderness wonderland with a variety of attractions for the sports enthusiast or naturalist, or anyone in need of some recreation. Popular activities include swimming, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, sunbathing, exploring, golf, picnicking, fishing, pony rides, train rides and bike rides. It also features a lake, golf course, petting zoo, a mini steam train, a carousel and endless trails to explore. Do not miss the Regional Parks Botanical Garden, home to the world's most complete collection of California native plants.
This park provides a charming, secluded nature getaway, mostly utilized by locals in the warmer months. There are two parts of the lake, one smaller area used for swimming, equipped with a lifeguard on duty in the summer, and a larger part that is open for fishing year-round. Situated in Tilden Park, the lake features a sandy beach, grassy knolls, a refreshment stand, a nearby parking lot and picnic tables.
Founded by Father Junipero Serra in 1779, Mission San Francisco de Asis, also known as Mission Dolores, is the oldest structure in San Francisco. The mission and the city that surrounds it was named after St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order. The Mission Dolores has gone through several repairs and renovations since its founding and the mission's original adobe structure still stands on-site, as well as a section of the original cemetery. The mission was the first location to be designated by the City of San Francisco as a protected historical landmark in 1968.
A famous religious building, located at 999 Eddy Street in San Francisco, Saint Paulus Lutheran Church has major tourist as well as historical significance. Built towards the end of the 19th century, this church was almost completely destroyed in a fire that engulfed the entire structure in November, 1995. It was not rebuilt and instead converted into a community garden. The erstwhile church had a wooden facade that looked almost identical to the Chartres Cathedral in France.
Set against the backdrop of the Contemporary Jewish Museum and St. Patrick Church, Jessie Square is a great place to walk your dog, enjoy lunch by the tranquil pool, and indulge in a little people watching. The square is a part of the Yerba Buena Garden Complex and is often used as a venue for live music and dance performances. During the day you will often encounter folk simply lounging about and enjoying the architectural beauty of their surroundings, or taking a break from the bustling Mission Street.
Located next to the revered Grace Cathedral on California Street, Huntington Park spreads itself across 1.3 acres of picturesque green landscapes in the city's Nob Hill locale. The park is named after its original owner Mr.Collis P.Huntington who donated the property to the city in the year 1915. Its grounds are laden with colorful playgrounds, and slides and is a great place to bring your kids along. The symbolic Flood Fountain is also located here.
Spread along San Francisco's scenic eastern shores, UCSF Mission Bay is a 57-acre (23.06 hectares) site that houses some of the city's most state-of-the-art facilities in the field of biotechnology. A vast majority of the campus; 43 acres (17.40 hectares) to be precise, was donated by the Catellus Development Corporation and the city of San Francisco. The site was opened to the public in the year 2003.