The main components of the image of a city are geographical, cultural, ethnic, and historical. They create the internal microclimate of the city and its internal communications. A city image means the historically formed image of the city as a subject of social relations in the region or country, due to national, social, and cultural factors, which are manifested in communicative attributes. San Francisco has a very strong attractive tourist image with interesting historical facts connected with the territory, beautiful landscapes, the beauty of architectural structures, and the spirit of freedom in culture and relationships.
The cosmopolitan and colorful San Francisco is one of the most famous cities in the United States. And not only there. The inhabitants of the Californian city country are around 815,201 (2021 estimation). The city is the cultural, transportation, and financial center of the San Francisco Bay Area with a population of 7.753 million individuals (2018 estimation). San Francisco is positioned at the tip of the Peninsula and includes important stretches of San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean within its borders.
Nowadays, San Francisco is one of the most visited tourist destinations worldwide, well-known for its cool summer mist, sheer rolling hills, an incredible mix of modern and Victorian architecture, and its legendary landmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Alcatraz Island, the Ocean Beach, the cable cars, Chinatown, etc. The city is also a main financial and banking center, and the home of more than 30 intercontinental financial institutions. All of this makes San Francisco one of the most visited places in the world.
San Francisco includes numerous islands, like Alcatraz, Yerba Buena Island, Treasure Island, Red Rock Island, a small portion of Alameda Island, Farallon Islands, and Angel Island. The total area of the city including the water is just about 600 square kilometers. San Francisco is also known for its hills. There are over 50 hills in the limits of the city. Some of the neighborhoods are named after the hill on which they are placed, such as Pacific Heights, Russian Hill, Alamo Square (named after Alamo Hill), and Nob Hill. The pair of hills laying at one of the highest points of the city is called Twin Peaks and it forms an admired spot for an overlook. The tallest hill (282 m high) in San Francisco is Mount Davidson. Dominating this area is also the Sutro Tower – big white and red television and radio transmission tower.
The close by Hayward Faults and San Andreas are accountable for a lot of earthquake activity, but none of them passes physically all the way through the city. The Fault of San Andreas slipped and was responsible for the earthquakes in 1906 and 1989. Negligible earthquakes happen from time to time. The risk of major earthquakes has an effect on the infrastructure of the city’s development.
The San Francisco Top Attractions are the Golden Gate Bridge, “The Rock” or Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Park, the Exploratorium, the Fisherman’s Wharf, the Ocean Beach of San Francisco, the Cable Cars of San Francisco, Chinatown, the Italian neighborhood, Alamo Square, and the Red-and-White Ferry. Of course, there are many other places of interest as well.
The California Palace of the Legion of Honor
The fine arts museum called California Palace of the Legion of Honor contains works of many European artists such as impressionists and post-impressionists Monet, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, Pissarro, Seurat as well as Rembrandt, Francois Boucher, El Greco, Rubens, David, etc. But probably the most impressive collection is the collection of Auguste Rodin, especially his world-famous statue “The Thinker”. People who love paintings, sculptures, and other works of art, will really enjoy it.
Fortune Cookie Museum
San Francisco Fortune Cookie Museum is located in Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory where years ago fortune cookies were invented. Today the factory produces about 20,000 fortune cookies per day and the museum sells many bags of cookies, which are one of the attractions of San Francisco as well.
Mission Dolores (The Mission of Our Father Saint Francis de Assisi)
The mission was founded in 1776 by Lieutenant Jose Moraga, Father Francisco Palou, and Father Junipero Serra, all of them members of the Anza expedition who were sent to establish a settlement and evangelize the Ohlone Indians. The settlement was named after the founder of the Franciscan Order, Saint Francis de Assisi. The mission soon became popular among the natives but in time many of the ran away from the mission. They start calling the Mission Dolores in the 1830s after a creek named “Our Lady of Sorrow Creek” Mexico decided to close all the missions of the California chain in 1834 including the Mission Dolores. In 1846 Mexico ceded California to the US. Today, from the original settlement only the church and the cemetery survived. Nevertheless, it is still a center of Hispanic people there. But more people attend mass in the basilica next door.
The San Francisco original bay cruise was founded in 1892. The Red and White Fleet is well-known for its overwhelming San Francisco Cruises. You can sail under the Golden Gate and around Alcatraz in the 1 hour Golden Gate Bay Cruise, enjoy amazing appetizers and sunsets on board during the 2 hours California Sunset Cruise or the 90 minutes SF Explorer Cruise where you can discover San Francisco’s unique Native American culture, architecture, and natural history on a sailing route that promises fantastic views. All of Red and White Fleet’s cruises start from Pier 43 ½.
There is also different kind of tours that you can choose from: Air Tours, Alcatraz Tours, City Tours, Cruise Tours, Day Trips & Excursions from San Francisco, Double Decker Bus Tours, Walking Tours, Wine Country Tours, Attraction Passes & Tickets, San Francisco Attractions, San Francisco Murals, San Francisco Neighbourhoods, Electric Bike Tour, etc.
Although it is considered one of the windiest parts of San Francisco, Alamo Square is one of the most visited and photographed ones. The row of Victorian houses known also as Six sisters or Painted ladies show the visitors how the city looked like at the end of the 19th century. And the view is unbelievable, indeed. The Square is located in the Western addition which is very often called the Alamo Square neighborhood. This is part of San Francisco with the 2nd largest concentration of large homes.
San Francisco Italian neighborhood
If you want to have a cup of very nice coffee you can always visit the Italian neighborhood of San Francisco. North Beach is a district in the northeast of San Francisco neighboring the Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown. It is accepted as the Little Italy of San Francisco because there is a majority of Italian Americans there. This is the nightlife district of the city. The APA (American Planning Association) defined North Beach as one of the top 10 ‘Great Neighbourhoods in the USA’.
“Enoteca Ottomista strikes a balance of being both a great wine bar and restaurant with its delicious rustic Italian cuisine, complimented by an expansive wines list that specializes in Italian varietals.
From the warm and rustic dining area that surrounds the rich wooden bar to the wrought iron vintage tables and chairs in the heated front patio, the design completes the whole experience. The ambiance is reminiscent of a charming little restaurant somewhere in the Italian Tuscan countryside. Highlights from my last visit include the special pizza del giorno, the beet frisee salad with toasted sunflower seeds and pistachios, and the salumi plate.”
San Francisco Chinatown
The Chinatown in San Francisco is the oldest in North America and one of “the largest Chinese communities outside Asia”. It was established in the 1840s and it was highly influential and important in the culture and history of ethnic Chinese immigrants to North America and the USA. In addition, San Francisco Chinatown has been a home and starting point for thousands of immigrants from China. It is also a main tourist attraction with its restaurants and shops. The attractions there draw more visitors per year than the Golden Gate Bridge.
San Francisco Cable Cars
In early 1980, with the subway lines to Market Street, the trams were considered an outdated type of transport, and tram routes were closed. It was decided to hold the last parade of “veterans”. The townspeople liked the festival so much that they began to organize it yearly, and since 1995 the historic streetcars began their regular traffic. The tram park has real rarities from all over the world – Italy, England, Portugal, Japan, etc. Most were built in 1946-1948, but there are some cars of more venerable age. The oldest one was “born” in 1895.
The system of cable cars in San Francisco is the world’s last manually-operated cable car system, and it is an image of San Francisco. The cable car system forms part of the inner-city transport network operated by Muni (Municipal Railway). Cable cars work on two routes from downtown near Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf, and another route all along California Street. Cable cars are a very popular tourist attraction as well. They are as significant tourist sites in San Francisco as Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz Island.
Pier 39 is the favorite and “organized” resting place for sea lions. Here, they quietly live their lives and do not pay attention to the tourists. For these animals, some special wooden floorings have been made. In the skins of many of them, there are traces of shark teeth.
The Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf is a very popular neighborhood with a lot of souvenir shops, restaurants, cafes, and fairs, where you can admire the wonderful view of the ocean or watch a colony of sea lions. It is one of the favorite tourist attractions in San Francisco, California. It roughly goes around the northern harbor area of San Francisco. This is one of the most famous and busiest tourist attractions in North America. The historic seafront still serves as a working fishing pier, so you can expect fresh seafood from the restaurants in the area. Some of the restaurants like Alioto’s and Pompeii’s are three generations old of the same family ownership. Very close there is a chapel built in memory of the “Lost Fishermen” of Northern California and San Francisco.
The Exploratorium is the best museum in San Francisco. It is a mixture of art, science, and human perception full of hundreds of exhibits. The Exploratorium was founded by the famous educator and physicist Dr. Frank Oppenheimer in 1969. It offers to visitors different ways such as events, exhibits, websites, webcasts, ExNet, and more in order to understand and explore the world around them. The exhibits include: Seeing (visitors can interpret the world through their brain, their own subjectivity, and their eyes), Traits of Life – A Living Laboratory, Matter/World, Listen (the idea is that sound carries information, by its nature), Mind (visitors have to observe and reflect on their own psychological experiences), Education, Arts, etc.
Hakone Japanese Tea Garden
In Golden Gate park is located another attraction of the city – Hakone Japanese Tea Garden where you can have tea in the original Japanese tea house and enjoy the small waterfall, a monumental Budha, and original pagodas. People say that this is probably one of the quietest and most tranquil places in the city with its small ponds, pagodas, bridges, and a tea room.
The Golden Gate Park
The Golden Gate Park, positioned in San Francisco, California, is a large urban park with 1,017 acres of public grounds. The park is modeled as a rectangle and it is comparable in shape but 20 % outsized New York’s Central Park. The Golden Gate Park has per year 13 million visitors. It is one of the most visited city parks in the USA. The park includes the Kezar Stadium, the Conservatory of Flowers, the AIDS Memorial Grove, the Music Concourse, the De Young Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, the ) Japanese tea garden, the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum, the Stow Lake, the Spreckels Lake, the Golden Gate Park Stadium, the Bison Paddock, the Windmills, the Beach Chalet, etc. The park is used for some scenes in movies, such as Charlie Chaplin’s “A Jitney Elopement” and “In the Park”.
Alcatraz Island – “The Rock”
Alcatraz Island is placed in San Francisco Bay. It is 2.4 km offshore from San Francisco, California. It is known also by the name “The Rock” from the days when the small island was used as a military prison (Federal Bureau of Prisons federal prison till 1963), a military fortification, and a lighthouse. Actually, at first, the island was used as a military fortress, which was later converted into a prison. The prison became famous because of the big names of some of its prisoners such as George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Robert Stroud also called the “Bird of Alcatraz”, Henry Theodore Young, and Al Capone. The prison was also famous for the fact that nobody can escape from there.
There was a total of 14 escape attempts and all of them failed. The point is that the prison is located in the center of the bay and you can reach it only by water. But the bay water temperature is low, and the flow is very strong so even an excellent swimmer will not be able to swim more than 2 miles to San Francisco. In 1972 The Rock became a national amusement area and received landmarking designations in both 1976 and 1986. At present, the island is a historic site open for tours, which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Guests from all over the world can get to the island by ferry from Pier 33, near the San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf. As you probably know Alcatraz has been used in many books, comics, TV shows, movies, games, and cartoons. Alcatraz became a famous historical site visited by a huge number of tourists and is considered one of the most visited places in San Francisco.
Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is 1.7 miles long. It is one of the top 10 America’s wonders. If you intend to visit the city, you shouldn’t miss it for the world. The construction of the bridge lasted 4 years, from 1933 to 1937. Because of the frequent fog, it is equipped with sound and light signaling devices for the safe piloting of vessels and aircraft.
Some believe that the name of the bridge is directly related to its color and, indeed, the red-orange color of the bridge during sunset shines like gold. You can cross the bridge by walking, driving, or cycling across. The bridge is the opening of San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. In 1937, when it was built, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest bridge in the world and has become a worldwide acknowledged symbol of California and San Francisco. Since it was completed the bridge’s length has been surpassed by 8 other bridges. It is still the 2nd longest bridge in the United States, after the New York City incredible Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. In 1999 the American Institute of Architects ranked the Golden Gate Bridge as the 5th on America’s Favourite list of Architecture.