Want to see sea lions up close and personal? Do you love the taste of fresh crab? Do you want to enjoy a family vacation that won't have the kids asking, "can we go home now?" Then San Francisco is the place for you. Visit pier 39, enjoy dining at one of the finest restaurants on the water and take a trip to China Town. San Francisco boasts that and much more.
San Francisco's history dates all the way back to 3000 BC. This is the earliest archaeological trace and evidence of human habitation of the territory. November 2, 1769 was the first documented European visit to San Francisco Bay. The population in 1846 was 1,000 and rose to 25, 000 in 1849 due to the "California Gold Rush." One thing San Francisco is most noted for is the 1906 earthquake. On April 18, 1906, at 5:12 am a major earthquake hit that measured 7.8. This was the most devastating earthquake in the history of California. Taking an estimated 3,000 lives due to fires and collapsing buildings and $524 million in property loss, the earthquake lasted 1 minute. After the earthquake, immediately put into place where reconstruction plans to quickly rebuild the city. Today San Francisco is a famous tourist attraction and hosted 15.9 million visitors in 2010.
Pier 39 includes dining, shopping, sea lions and live entertainment all on the waterfront. Enjoy the "Aquarium of the Bay" with your family. A real treat for the kids. Located on the water's edge, you and your family will find 20,000 local sea creatures waiting for you. Have you ever seen eye-to eye with a Sevengill shark, or touched a bat ray's wing? Walk through the clear tunnels while watching these fascinating animals swim overhead.
Chinatown in San Francisco is one of the largest and oldest in North America. Known as a "city-within-a-city," it has over 300 restaurants and stores. Chinatown continues to this day to keep up its own language, customs and places of worship. Every year they hold the Chinese New Year's parade. Also a major tourist attraction, Chinatown draws more visitors on an annual basis than the Golden Gate Bridge.
Fisherman's Wharf is a favorite among many visitors who enjoy Dungeness crab and clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl. While enjoying the walk along the Wharf, stop in and visit "Ripley's Believe it or Not" museum and the "Wax Museum." Fisherman's Wharf also includes it's exciting fireworks display for Fourth of July. Hiding behind some branches is a local street performer known as the "World Famous Bushman." For 30 years he has enjoyed startling people who walk by.
Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay served as a military prison and a lighthouse. Known as "The Rock," Alcatraz housed notable criminals such as, Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz), James "Whitey" Bulger and more. Today visitors can tour the island by ferry rides from Pier 33, near Fisherman's Wharf.
Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most gorgeous bridges and most photographed in the world. Reaching a height of 746 feet above the water, the bridge is suspended by a single span, spidery bracing cables and twin towers. Millions of visitors come to the bridge every year crossing in cars and by foot. From the ground you can see the fog rolling over it. The span of the bridge is 6, 450 feet, with 80,000 miles of wire cable and the cable thickness is 36 1/2 inches.
Cable Cars run from 6:30 am to 12:50am. Considered one of San Francisco's form of transportation along with buses and streetcars, cable cars are usually ridden on by tourists who enjoy the openness and the sights of the city.
Along with the many attractions that San Francisco holds, it is also a great place to enjoy many of the best beaches. Because of the fog and cool weather you may want to bring a jacket with you. Although many people are not swimming at the beaches, you can still enjoy the activities taking place with the family. Aquatic Park, in the heart of San Francisco is close to Fisherman's Wharf. Visitors can get some clam chowder with a sourdough bread bowl and take it to the steps in the open air to enjoy. Parents will also like this beach for the children. With a wading area and softer water and sand, children will delight in playing, while parents soak up the tranquility of the moment.
If you're looking for a place to spend the day picnicking and swimming then Stinson Beach is the place for you. Cross the Golden Gate Bridge and drive to Marin County Beaches, where you can reach Stinson Beach through gorgeous Muir Woods. There is easy access to state park hiking and for picnicking and swimming.
The best place for families to visit is East Beach. Also known as "China Beach" it is one of safest beaches with shallow water for children to splash around and have fun in. For extra safety lifeguards are on duty during the summer months. Enjoy the picnic areas and don't forget to bring along the burgers and hotdogs for your barbecue as there are grills for your use. After your day at the beach, stop by the exploratorium, an interactive science museum geared toward making science fun. Combining art and science, it is interesting and very easy to understand. An event that you and your family will have fun with together.
San Francisco, the city by the bay, is one of the most exciting and fun places for a family vacation. With so much to take in and enjoy you'll want to return again and again. Your children will look forward to their next vacation and won't ask, "can we go home now?" San Francisco has something for everyone, young and old alike. Don't forget to buy those souvenirs for family and friends and take those pictures that will last a lifetime.
Want to stay close to the activities? Choose from 185 hotels near pier 39, or 35 hotels on Fisherman's Wharf. Make this a vacation you will never forget.