San Francisco Introduction Walk II (Self Guided), San Francisco

The unmatched beauty of San Francisco combined with its riches of instantly recognizable structures and locales has attracted filmmakers from around the world for over 100 years. San Francisco has provided and continues to provide the backdrop for some of the most famous movie
scenes ever filmed. It is almost impossible to traverse the sights of San Francisco without conjuring an image from a special Hollywood movie. According to some film historians, San Francisco, rather than Hollywood, should have become the capitol of the motion picture world. Motion pictures were actually invented in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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San Francisco Introduction Walk II Map

Guide Name: San Francisco Introduction Walk II
Guide Location: USA » San Francisco (See other walking tours in San Francisco)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.1 Km or 3.2 Miles
Author: alex1007
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Grace Cathedral
  • Cable Car Museum
  • Washington Square
  • Sts. Peter and Paul Church
  • North Beach
  • Lombard Street
  • Ghirardelli Square
  • Anchorage Square
  • Musée Mecanique
  • Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum
  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • Alcatraz Island
Grace Cathedral

1) Grace Cathedral (must see)

An Episcopal church, the Grace Cathedral is visited by Christians and tourists from all over the world. Built in 1849, the Grace Church was a little chapel located at a different site. A fire in 1906 destroyed the Grace Cathedral, as it was called then. A daughter cathedral was then commissioned at the Nob Hill site by the Crocker family, which is the present day Grace Cathedral. Lewis Hobart designed this magnificent structure in French Gothic style which was then built in concrete and steel.

The Cathedral is visited by tourists for the famous work of De Rosen. De Rosen’s work in the Cathedral is visible in the aisle, as an altarpiece in the Chapel of Grace and as a mural in the Chapel of Nativity’s Adoration, where one can also see De Rosen’s childhood home in Warsaw. The Ghiberti Doors, a replica of the east door at the Florence Baptistery, add to the beauty of the Grace Cathedral. The patterns on the labyrinth of the Cathedral are capable of bringing one to a meditative state. The Cathedral has over 7000 sq. ft of breath-taking glass windows depicting over 1000 figures in human history. A forty-four bell carillon is rung to mark important days in the history of the city and the country. The Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys is one of the only seven remaining men and boys choir of the Episcopal Church.

Why You Should Visit:
A peaceful respite from the world outside, enhanced by many beautiful works of art.

Walk the labyrinth (circular, meditative food path) outside before entering, and walk an additional one inside. Also, check out the beautiful stained glass (sunny evenings are gorgeous).

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 7am-6pm; Sat: 8am-6pm; Sun: 8am-7pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cable Car Museum

2) Cable Car Museum (must see)

One of the most distinct features of San Francisco is its cable cars and one cannot afford to miss a visit to the museum that educates and celebrates the advent of the cable cars in the city. Invented in the late nineteenth century, the cable cars were introduced on an experimental basis for the uneven and steep terrain of San Francisco. After two centuries, the cable car has not only proven vital for the life in San Francisco, it has also become an identity of the city and its people.

Located at 1201 Manson Street, Nob Hill, the Cable Car Museum is a perfect place where one can learn about the history of cable cars and the relationship it shares with the city of San Francisco. The Museum was established in 1974 and has been operated by a non-profit organization called the “Friends of Cable Car Museum”.

If you are planning to visit the Museum, you must also make it a point to go to its delightful gift shop. Here, you can get miniature cable cars, souvenirs, artistic images of the cable cars depicting its history and antique models of antique cable cars that you cannot see any more in the city.

Why You Should Visit:
More than just a museum, but also the inner workings of the entire cable car network for San Francisco. A fun stop, and free!

Try to see it on one of your first days so you can look at the cars in the street with more knowledge for the rest of your vacation. Great cafe across the road, too, for afterwards.

Opening Hours:
The Museum is open to visitors for free from 10am to 6pm between April and September and from 10am to 5pm during the remainder of the year, except in the holiday season.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Washington Square

3) Washington Square

Filled with the chitter chatter in Italian, children playing about, people basking lazily in the sun and families enjoying a sunny morning, the Washington Square is a typical town square. Being one of the most accessible places in the city, the Washington Square is a popular place for community gatherings, festivals and picnics.

Having been laid out half a century ago, the Washington Square is located in the midst of a North Beach neighbourhood, which is predominantly Italian. Overlooking the Washington Square is the church of Saints Peter and Paul, which is known as the Italian Cathedral of the West.

In the centre of the park is a small bronze statue of Benjamin Franklin which was donated in 1879 by the first millionaire of San Francisco, Henry Cogswell to honour the fire fighters of the city of San Francisco. An interesting fact is that when the statue was erected at the site, a time capsule with Henry Cogswell’s belongings was also buried. It was excavated a century later in 1979 and was replaced by a new time capsule will be opened in 2079.

The park is a favourite spot for the locals who come here to do tai-chi, walk their dog or just relax.
Sts. Peter and Paul Church

4) Sts. Peter and Paul Church

The Sts. Peter and Paul Church is one of the many structures in San Francisco that has a rich history to blend in with its brilliant architecture. Located opposite the Washington Square Park in the city, the Church has a dedicated following of many pocket communities in San Francisco like the Chinese, Italian, Hispanic, Japanese and Indian. The St. Peter and Paul Church is a Roman Catholic Church and administered by the Salesians of Don Bosco.

The original foundation of the Church was laid in 1884 at the corner of Filbert Street and Grand Avenue. However, the structure couldn’t survive the earthquake and fire in 1906 and was razed to the ground. The present structure was built in 1924 and unlike the previous one, was built with two high raised spires measuring about 191 feet. These spires have made the Church a landmark structure in the city of San Francisco.

Not only is the Church a beautiful sight from the outside, its interiors are equally breath taking as well. The high altar, made up of different kinds of marble and stone is quite a spectacle and is adorned with beautiful fresco in the background. The Sts. Peter and Paul Church is a place you cannot afford to miss when visiting San Francisco.
Sight description based on wikipedia
North Beach

5) North Beach

North Beach is a neighborhood in the northeast of San Francisco adjacent to Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf and Russian Hill. The neighborhood is San Francisco's Little Italy, and has historically been home to a large Italian American population. It is still home to many Italian restaurants today, though many other ethnic groups currently live in the neighborhood. It was also the historic center of the beatnik subculture. Today, North Beach is one of San Francisco's main nightlife districts as well as a residential neighborhood populated by a mix of young urban professionals, families and Chinese immigrants connected to the adjacent Chinatown. Of all the districts in San Francisco, this one seems to be the most lively and spectacular, being full of specialty and unique gift shops, European inspired boutiques, and Italian restaurants and cafes.
Lombard Street

6) Lombard Street (must see)

Lombard Street is reckoned to be one of the most crooked streets in the world, which is far from actuality. Nevertheless, the 8 turns on a 4-degree slope do make one feel that it is, indeed, the steepest.

Year after year Lombard Street manages to get its share of visitors who are awed by its scenic beauty and marvel at its natural strangeness. The zig-zag pattern of the Street makes it quite an experience when you take a ride up or down the Lombard.

Even though walking or cycling down the Lombard Street may instill a sense of immediate vertigo, which may be dangerous at times, the reason for the crooked form of this street, surprisingly, is safety. The natural grading of the land is very steep and is a safety risk. The zig-zag pattern reduces the effect of the steepness of the slope, making it easy to ply on. It was suggested in 1920 for the scenic switchbacks to be added to the area in order to bring to a certain appeal to the surroundings.

Although the zig-zag street itself may be the reason to visit the place, a lesser known fact about Lombard Street is that it houses some of the most magnificent mansions in San Francisco. Apart from that, the Montandon House has also earned a reputation for being a "haunted building".

Why You Should Visit:
Check it off the bucket list!

You can get here by car, cable car or walking. Around 10 AM is the best time due to less crowd and sunshine on street. It's nice to start at the top and look down then walk/drive down and look up. Not only is it a lot easier, but if you carry on down the road, it leads to Coit Tower.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Ghirardelli Square

7) Ghirardelli Square

Ghirardelli Square is a landmark with shops and restaurants in the Fisherman's Wharf area of San Francisco. A portion of the area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Pioneer Woolen Mills and D. Ghirardelli Company. Ghirardelli Square once featured over 40 specialty shops and restaurants. Some of the original shops and restaurants still occupy the square. The square also recently opened a new children's day care center, Peekadoodle Kids' Club. Notably, Gary Danko will soon open a second restaurant within walking distance of his original San Francisco eatery. This new restaurant will be in the Mustard Building along with the Fairmont Heritage Place.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Anchorage Square

8) Anchorage Square

Anchorage Square offers over 35 places for entertainment, recreation, shopping, dining, combined to bring you an unforgettable experience. It is located in the heart of Fisherman's Wharf. Anchorage Square has something to offer for everyone: families, kids, singles, and seniors alike.
Musée Mecanique

9) Musée Mecanique (must see)

In today’s day and age, with attention to detail, the world of video games is getting more complex and has significantly progressed from where it started. The world of arcade games also has come a long way but many from the older generation will argue that the games back then had a different appeal to them. Today, there are very few places that offer the experience of these vintage arcades that were the highlight of their time. One such place left in San Francisco is the Musée Mecanique.

Open since 1933, the Musée Mecanique has the most extensive collection of antique arcade games and toys in the world. Some of the games are over a century old and the best part- they are still functioning. A perfect place for the young and old, the Musée Mecanique is one place where older generations can actually play and enjoy games that were once a part of their childhood.

The Musée Mecanique is also regarded as one of the world's largest privately owned coin-operated toy and arcade collection and has been run by the family ever since its conception. The Musée is currently located at Pier 45 in the Fisherman's Wharf tourist area. So go ahead and spend a few quarters at the Orchestrion, or the different types of automated antique pianos and the Laffing Sal, there is something for every age at Musée Mecanique.

Why You Should Visit:
A quirky place full of old game machines and oddities, fun to view for free. Yes, they have a fortune teller and many other interesting machines.

Highly recommended as a date-night spot, or as a place to bring the family.

Operation Hours:
Mon-Fri: 10am-7pm; Sat-Sun: 10am-8pm; Holidays: 10am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum

10) Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum (must see)

Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum is a two-floor complex of 11 galleries and more than 300 strange yet wonderful exhibits. All collections depict strange people and odd animals, tribal artifacts collected from around the globe, weird and wacky art, etc.

Why You Should Visit:
If you have a couple of hours and are looking to do an inside activity, this is a fun place! Package deals are economical.

While visiting, be sure to check out the Niagara Theatre exhibit which showcases individuals who challenged the falls.
And be sure to take a stroll through the museum's cemetery to check out the humourous gravestone engravings.

Opening Hours:
Sun: 9am-11pm; Mon-Thu: 10am-11pm; Fri: 10am-12am; Sat: 9am-12am
Aquarium of the Bay

11) Aquarium of the Bay (must see)

Spread across 9000 square feet, the Aquarium of the Bay is a fun visit for people of all ages. The Aquarium of the Bay is dedicated to providing its viewers an insight into the aquatic life within the San Francisco Bay and its neighboring waters. The mission of the Aquarium is to educate and raise awareness amongst its visitors about marine life and inspire people to conserve the aquatic wildlife.

An Aquarium like no other in the world, here you get to touch, feel and see the world that exists under water. Without actually getting wet, see the life underwater and experience what it takes and feels to be a deep sea diver. The aquarium boasts of a collection of over 50 different species of sharks, which roughly estimated, comes up to about 20,000 sharks! Apart from this, the aquarium has a wide variety of marine wildlife like bat rays, skates, octopi, eels, flatfish, stingray, Wrasse, Gobies, Kelpfish, Pricklebacks, Ronquil, Sculpin, Sturgeons, Garibaldi etc.

The Aquarium visit is sectioned into three parts; first where you get to a watch thousands of fish in satellite tanks, second you get to experience and watch the myriad life of the ocean from a scuba divers point of view and the third where you can feed and touch the slimy, squishy creatures.

The aquarium has fun visitor programs like tide pool feeding, bat ray feeding, touching starfish and other such one-of-a-kind experiences.

Why You Should Visit:
Cool little aquarium with a pleasing emphasis on the environment and sustainability. Huge underwater tunnels with a large variety of fish to see.

Pay the extra to do the behind the scenes tour (available only on certain days) where you literally walk above the tanks and the people that are walking through the aquarium.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-8pm
Alcatraz Island

12) Alcatraz Island (must see)

Alcatraz Island has appeared many times in popular culture. Its appeal as a film setting derives from its isolation and its history as a prison from which, officially, no prisoner ever successfully escaped. Don Siegel's 1979 thriller Escape from Alcatraz chronicles the story of Frank Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin, who escaped from Alcatraz in 1962, although it is not known whether they survived the trip across the bay. Alcatraz's isolated and fortified image has meant that it has been used as a location for fictional hostage scenarios in various instances. The most successful of such films was 'The Rock' (1996), in which a group from the United States Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance holds 81 tourists hostage, demanding monetary reparations. To defeat the hostage-takers, the Navy SEAL team enlist the help and knowledge of John Patrick Mason, the only inmate of Alcatraz who ever successfully escaped.

Why You Should Visit:
Not just a dramatic destination, but one where you can learn about the criminal justice system, the Indian occupation, political prisoners, and more.

Plan to book your tickets months in advance or you won't get to go!
Also, make sure you check out what times the park rangers will be doing cell door demonstrations, as that is something really interesting to see.

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles
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Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles

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