San Francisco is one of those cities you think you already know. Not surprising, considering the number of movies filmed in this beautiful city. There is hardly a soul on this planet that that have never heard of the most photographed bridge in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge. Yet again, this place is full of surprises.
1. Golden Gate Bridge
This grandiose suspension bridge, built in 1937, is one of the most recognizable landmarks not only in San Francisco but in entire United states. It is about 1.7 miles long and it handles 200,000 vehicles per day. It is considered one of the modern wonders of the world. “The bridge that couldn't be built” as it is referred to, is carefully maintained. 25 brave daredevils spend around 1000 gallons of orange paint in order to keep the bridge glowing. You couldn’t be able to find one square millimeter of rust, even if you try to reach the bottom of the bridge.
2. Alcatraz Island
This notorious prison, also known as “The Rock”, is the most famous penitentiary in the world and one of the main attractions in San Francisco. Located on the island in San Francisco Bay, It hosted most dangerous criminals for over 30 years until it was closed in 1963. Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly served their time here. Not even one of 1576 registered convicts managed to escape from Alcatraz. Don’t trust Hollywood propaganda. Visitors are allowed to take recorded tours and witness the conditions in which the prisoners were living here.
3. Cable Cars
Cable cars are the only system of transportation considered to be a historic monument. Everybody saw them at least ones in a movie. When Andrew Hallidie witnessed a scene of two wagon horses falling to their deaths due to the steep road, he came up with an idea of a transportation system powered by underground cables. Since 1873, when Cable Cars were introduced to the public, the mechanism didn’t change and the breaks are manually controlled.
Although it is a big tourist attraction, locals also use it. Sometimes they are more efficient that the bus.
You can ride on them from 6 am till 12 am. They cover three routes and provide a great view of the city and the bay, so consider buying an all-day pass and enjoy the many rides.
Ok, what is so special about Chinatowns, they can be found in every major city? – You may ask. Nothing, unless it is the largest Chinatown that is not located in Asia and the oldest one in North America.
There are countless Stores and workshops, temples, teahouses, antique shops and theaters. After the devastation caused the Earthquake in 1906, it was soon restored and looked even more attractive before the catastrophe. Grant Avenue is the main street for tourist. There you can stumble upon Golden Gate Cookie Factory where two ladies bake 20000 fortune cookies a day, hand-made! Not many people know that the fortune cookie was invented in San Francisco by a Japanese resident.
Maybe the best time to visit China town is during the Lunar New Year celebrated with Firecrackers, flowers, and food. The highlight of the ceremony is the parade featuring the spectacular 160-foot-long dragon.
5. Fisherman's Wharf
Fisherman's Wharf is one of the most popular spots in San Francisco. It flourished in the second half of 18th century when immigrants from Italy came to the city. This fisherman wanted to the advantage of the population growth caused by the Gold Rush. Fisherman's Wharf is a home to the Wax Museum, Maritime national Historic Park and more than 130 stores and restaurants with unique food.
If you only have a couple of days on your hand, Fisherman's is a great place to start.