About San Francisco


From the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge, the City of San Francisco is filled with beauty and wonder. The distinctive and dynamic city, known for its culture and activism, draws residents from all over the world.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) delivers you from the San Francisco International Airport into the heart of the City. Historical sites such as Fisherman's Wharf await you, as do new additions such as the 2010 and 2012 World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants and the recent San Francisco 49ers appearance in Super Bowl XLVII

A variety of vibrant communities  exist throughout the city that comprises California's 12th Congressional District. Its neighborhoods are just as distinctive, from downtown to Chinatown, Nob and Russian Hills, the Marina, the Castro, the Richmond, the Fillmore, the Western Addition, Potrero Hill, Pacific Heights, Noe Valley, Haight-Ashbury, the Mission District, South of Market, and Bayview Hunters Point.

The San Francisco Travel website can help you plan a trip to San Francisco.

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Visiting San Francisco

A guide from the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.
 

Exciting and Educational Activities:

The San Francisco Zoo
1 Zoo Road; (415) 753-7080
The San Francisco Zoo is Northern California's largest zoological park and conservation center. The zoo's vast 100 acres is home to over 250 different animal species in naturalistic surroundings. Open from 10am-5pm every day of the year.  Admission is $15 for adults, $9 for youths (ages 4-14), $12 for seniors 65 and over, free for children ages 3 and under.
 
Exploratorium 
3601 Lyon Street; (415) EXP-LORE
The Exploratorium is a one-of-a-kind museum designed to give everyone, regardless of age, the opportunity to explore the marvels of science.  Open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10am-5pm.  Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, $10 for children (ages 4-12), and free for children 3 and under.  Admission for the Tactile Dome is $20 and reservations are required.
 

Along the Pier:

PIER 39
Beach Street & The Embarcadero; (415) 981-PIER 
PIER 39, one of the most popular attractions offered in San Francisco, offers a range of sights and activities for everyone in the family to enjoy.  PIER 39 also offers shopping, dining, and street entertainment.  No fee for admission.
 
Museé Mécanique
Pier 45 Shed A at the end of Taylor Street; (415) 346-2000
One of the world’s largest privately owned collections of mechanically operated musical instruments and antique arcade machines. Open 10am-7pm Monday through Friday and 10am–8pm Saturday and Sunday.
 
Alcatraz
For Ferry Tickets: (415) 981-7625
Once an infamous federal prison, Alcatraz Island is now one of San Francisco’s most popular sights, where visitors can explore the remains of the prison and experience the island’s rich history.  The island also features gardens, tide pools, bird colonies, and breathtaking views of the Bay.  Open every day except Christmas and New Year’s Day, with ferries leaving beginning at 9:30am and every 30-40 minutes thereafter.
 

Unique Attractions:

Cartoon Art Museum
655 Mission Street; (415) 227-8666
The Cartoon Art Museum is the only museum in the United States devoted to the exhibition of cartoon art, housing 6,000 original pieces of work.  Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11am-5pm  Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, $3 for children (ages 6-12), and free for children under 6.
 
Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD)
685 Mission Street (at 3rd); (415) 358-7200
Since opening in 2005, the MoAD museum focuses on the African Diaspora culture, tracing the rich cultural heritage of people from Africa, and their African descendants all over the world. The museum is open from 11am-6pm Wednesday-Saturday and 12pm-5pm on Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and free for children ages 12 and under. 
 
California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Drive; (415) 321-8000
Founded in 1853 as the first scientific institution in the West, the California Academy of Sciences is now an extensive natural history museum and aquarium, dedicated to providing hands-on science education for visitors around the world.  The Academy is open from 9:30am-5pm Monday through Saturday and 11am-5pm on Sundays.  Admission is $24.95 for adults, $19.95 for students and seniors, $14.95 for children (ages 4-11), and free for children under 4. 
 
Japanese Tea Gardens
7 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive; (415) 666-3232
Located in Golden Gate Park, this traditional Japanese garden covers five acres. Several paths take you by an authentic pagoda, a monumental Buddha, a miniature waterfall, and over an acutely arched bridge. Overlooking the gardens koi-filled pond is a Japanese-style tea house, which in spring is covered with a cascade of wisteria. The gift shop sells souvenirs with a Japanese flair. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and youth (ages 12-17), $1.50 for children (ages 5-11), and free for children under 5.
 
Yerba Buena Gardens
(415) 820-3550 
Yerba Buena Gardens are located in the South of Market area of San Francisco above the Moscone Convention Center. The Gardens cover two square city blocks.  One block features two and a half acres of grassy meadow (The Esplanade), an extensively landscaped garden, a 120 thousand-gallon waterfall, a memorial dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., several fountains, and major works of public art. The Children’s block, or Rooftop, features Zeum (see below), a historic Carousel, Ice Skating and Bowling Centers, a two acre interactive play garden, and much more. The site is home to five cafes and the Center for the Arts visual and performing arts buildings. Open every day to the public from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
 
Zeum
221 Fourth Street (@ Howard Street)
Zeum (Ze-um) — not your typical museum; a place that builds voice, ignites the imagination, nurtures the creative process, and encourages innovation.   Zeum is a non-profit multimedia arts and technology museum whose mission is to foster creativity and innovation in young people and their families. It is the only Bay Area museum where individuals of all ages, backgrounds, communities, and learning styles combine hands-on use of animation, digital technology, electronic media, traditional and non-traditional materials, and the power of their imaginations to create high quality stories, movies, performances, music, art, and more. Admission is $10 for adults, and $8 for students and seniors.
 
Presidio
(415) 516-5418
The Presidio is a unique historic park overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay.  It was in continuous use as a military post from 1776 to 1994, spanning the Spanish, Mexican, and United States periods. The Presidio was declared a National Historic Landmark District for its importance to Spanish colonial settlement and its prominent U.S. Army history.
 
In October 1994, the U.S. Army lowered its flag for the last time, and the Presidio was transferred to the National Park Service as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, a network of historic sites and preserved open space that today links 75,500 acreas along the Northern California coast. 
 
Within its boundaries are:
  • more than 500 historic buildings;
  • a collection of coastal defense fortifications;
  • a national cemetery, an historic airfield;
  • a saltwater marsh;
  • forests;
  • beaches;
  • native plant habitats;
  • coastal bluffs;
  • campgrounds;
  • miles of hiking and biking;
  • and some of the most spectacular vistas in the world.  
The park is open year-round. Information on points of interest and Presidio history is available at the Visitor Center located in Building 102, Montgomery Street. Open daily from 9am-5pm.
 
The Presidio is served by the San Francisco MUNI and Golden Gate Transit bus systems. It has also been designated a “Bicycle Friendly Community.” PresidiGo, a free internal shuttle system sponsored by the Presidio Trust, makes stops at more than 40 destinations within the park. Parking is available for those arriving by car. 
 

Historic & Beautiful Landmarks:

Lombard Street 
Lombard Street is San Francisco’s—and America's—crookedest street.  What does this mean?  The steep, hilly street was created with sharp curves the switchback down the one-way hill past beautiful Victorian mansions.  The street is paved with bricks and is an amazing site to see.
 
To get to Lombard Street, you can take the Hyde Street Cable Car line, which stops on the crest.
 
Lombard Street is not only "The Crooked Street." It continues in both directions, going all the way east, up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower, which is a pleasant hike or a short drive.
 
Coit Tower
Lillie Hitchcock Coit, philanthropist and admirer of the fire fighters at the 1906 earthquake fire, left funds to The City for the beautification of San Francisco.  Those funds were used for the construction of the 210-foot tall art deco Coit Tower at the top of Telegraph Hill. The tower’s design is reminiscent of a fire hose nozzle and was quite controversial.
 
Golden Gate Bridge
Since its completion on May 27, 1937, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge is one of the world's most beautiful bridges. With its tremendous towers, sweeping main cables, and great span, it is a sensory beauty featuring color, sound, and light.  For over 75 years, the bridge has been a faithful companion for San Franciscans, a source of pride for California, and a national treasure for all Americans.
 
Access to Southeast Parking Lot 
Traveling north from San Francisco:  Take a right at the last San Francisco exit off Highway 101 just before the Toll Plaza.  The sign reads "Golden Gate National Recreation Area View Area".  Proceed to the stop sign and turn left into the southeast parking lot.
 
Taking Public Transit to the Golden Gate Bridge
From San Francisco:  You can reach the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge from any point in San Francisco on one of the following Golden Gate Transit routes: 10, 60, 70 or 80. If using SF Muni from Downtown or Fisherman's Wharf, use the Route 30 and transfer to Route 28 at Laguna & Chestnut. If using SF Muni from 19th Avenue, use the Route 28. Please call toll-free 511 (say "Golden Gate Transit”) to identify the bus stop closest to your location.
 

Fun Neighborhoods

Mission District
The Mission District is a culturally vibrant neighborhood that has historically absorbed new immigrant populations. You will find amazing public art, great weather, and the best Mexican food in town.
 
Chinatown
Pass through the arch and you will feel like you have entered a whole different city.  In Chinatown you will find an abundance of food, shopping and culture.
 

Getting Around San Francisco

For directions, traffic updates and guides to getting around San Francisco please visit
 
San Francisco Muni
San Francisco’s vast network of buses provides reliable, clean, and convenient transportation to any destination in the City.
 
Cable Car Rides
Since 1873, cable cars have graced the streets of San Francisco.  Three routes exist to take riders through the different parts of the city, running from 1) Powell Street through Mason Street; 2) Powell Street through Hyde Street; and 3) California Street.  The cable car system operates seven days a week, and tickets can be purchased from the conductor as you board, or at the end of any line.  Tickets are $3 each way. 
 
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) 
The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) rail system connects the San Francisco Peninsula with Oakland, Berkeley, Fremont, Walnut Creek, Dublin/Pleasanton, and other cities in the East Bay.
 
Photos provided by San Francisco Travel.