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San Francisco

Country
United States
State
California
City
San Francisco
Type of Location
Multiple
About Location

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Places to Visit
How to Reach

By Air

SFO (the San Francisco International Airport) is one of the busiest airports in the country and serves Europe, Latin America, and the Pacific Rim. SFO has four terminals - three of those are for domestic flights and the other is for international flights.

Terminal 1 could be considered the main terminal. You'll find most domestic flights run through Terminal 1 including American West, Continental, Delta, Northwest, and US Air. Air Canada operates out of this terminal as well. As of this writing Terminal 2 is closed for renovation and there is no estimated completion date. Terminal 3 is where American Airlines and United fly out of. The International Terminal is for most non-US carriers and all international arrivals.

Ferry

The commuter ferries are a lot of fun for around $9-$11 round trip... Ferry day trips leave from the Ferry building near Embarcadero Center to Sausalito, Tiburon, or Angel Island with beautiful views. The Blue and Gold San Francisco Bay Cruise offers a great "tourist alternative" to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island up close.

The Ferry Building boats are much less of a hassle factor than the ferries at ultra-tourist-hell Fisherman's Wharf. However, Alcatraz tour ferrys only leave from Fisherman's Wharf. You should buy Alkatraz ferry tickets early as they sell out fast. You can step into a jail cell in Alkatraz if you'll brave it... Day trips include Sausalito & Tiburon and Angel Island park.

By Train

CalTrain is another commuter train that runs out of San Francisco’s 4th/King Street station. It is mostly used by people living or working in the South Bay cities of Silicon Valley, but it does go as far as San Jose and Gilroy. If you are staying in Palo Alto or Mountain View, for instance, this may be a convenient way to get to San Francisco. From the 4th/King station, you can walk or take a bus to many city destinations. Tickets are sold at stations and are based on distance, like BART. Monthly passes are available.

By Bus

If you are considering renting a car in San Francisco, think again. The city's compact size, many one-way streets, and difficult or expensive parking makes driving more of a hassle than it’s worth. The “Muni,” San Francisco’s bus and streetcar system, can be quite crowded and sometimes irregular, too. But it is cheap only $1.50 (youth, senior, disabled: $0.50) with a free transfer, and takes you most everywhere.

Tickets are sold on the bus (exact change required), or in Muni metro stations. Transfers last 90 minutes in any direction, although bus drivers often give you tickets with extra time. This means that for many trips you can go roundtrip for just $1.50! If you plan to see a lot of San Francisco and stay for a few days, invest in a MUNI Passport (1-day: $11; 3-day: $18, 7-day: $24), which are for sale at the cable car turnaround, and other outlets. These passes include rides on the must-see cable cars, which are ordinarily $5 each way, so the pass quickly pays for itself! A monthly pass is also available for $45.

Key places to visit
Cable Cars, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco Zoo, Transamerica Pyramid


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Places to Visit

Cable Cars

San Francisco is built on many hills and a major contribution to the city's development occurred in 1873 with the invention of the cable car. Since 1964 these tram-like vehicles have had the unique distinction of being the only public transport system to be declared a historic monument.

Andrew S. Hallidie was an Englishman who came to California at the time of the Gold Rush. He made steel cables for mining. In those days all transport was horse drawn and when in 1869 Hallidie witnessed a serious accident caused by a horse losing its footing on a slippery road, he conceived the idea of replacing the horse-drawn trams with a more modern system. On August 2nd 1873, after three years experimentation, he successfully demonstrated the first cable car in Clay Street.

His invention incorporated a moving cable running in a trench under the street, driven by huge wheels housed in specially constructed engine sheds or "barns". The "gripmen", as the drivers are called, lock the cars in position on the traveling cables; thus held fast they are able to cope with even the steepest of the city's hills. In 1890 there were no fewer than eight companies running cable car services, with more than 600 vehicles and over 100mi/160km of track.

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Suspension Bridge connects San Francisco with Marin County and other districts further north. It was recently designated the greatest man-made sight in the United States by the U.S. Travel Service. For years it was the symbol of San Francisco, though this distinction is now claimed by the Transamerica Pyramid. The splendid scenery all around makes it the most beautiful bridge in the world.

Opened on May 28th 1937, the bridge took four years to build, the director of the project being Joseph B. Strauss. Construction proved particularly difficult due to the strong cross-currents, and a number of fatal accidents occurred. At the time of its completion it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. On an average day it is used by more than 100,000 cars and lorries.

The bridge, flood-lit in the evening, is approximately 2mi/3km long and 90ft/27m wide. The carriageway is 220ft/67m above sea-level and the supporting towers 740ft/225m high.

Every week 25 painters use about two tons of red lead ("International Orange") keeping the paintwork in good condition. Its striking coloring is one more reason why the Golden Gate Bridge is known throughout the world

Golden Gate Park

San Francisco's Golden Gate Park is one of the largest man-made parks in the world. This popular San Francisco tourist attraction offers numerous activities for the entire family, including running, rollerblading, biking, pedal-boating, fly-fishing, handball, tennis, museums, botanical gardens and more.

San Francisco Zoo

San Francisco did not begin to lay out its zoo until quite late (1929), but now it is one of the six most important in the United States. Its designers took the Carl Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, Germany as their model. The chief attractions are the snow leopards, polar bears, elephants, pigmy hippos, white rhinos and the monkeys which inhabit an island of their own. The enclosure for primates was added in 1985.

Transamerica Pyramid

Since its completion in 1972 the Transamerica Pyramid, which can be seen from virtually everywhere in San Francisco, has become the new symbol of the city. It is situated north of the Wells Fargo Bank Building, in the middle of the financial quarter. Designed by the architect William Pereira of Los Angeles, it has 48 stories and reaches up 853ft/260m into the sky. It belongs to an insurance and finance company bearing the same name.

Unlike conventional buildings, the pyramidal tower with its lattice-like cladding, is said to be particularly resistant to earthquake. The main building, square in section, is 150ft/45m wide at the bottom and 46ft/14m wide at the topmost floor. This section is surmounted by a 150ft/45m high hollow spire illuminated from within. The sides of the pyramidal spire are clad in aluminum sheeting.

The lines of the tall spire are broken by the external lift-shafts (18 lifts) which run up the east and west sides of the building as far as the base of the spire.

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