The plaza in fromt of City Hall is known as the United Nations Plaza - the UN charter was signed in one of the two (identical) buildings opposite City Hall on Van Ness.
Coit Tower could be considered historical - a monument to one woman’s fascination with firemen…
I’d be hard-pressed to find it, but there is a small monument to the two strikers killed by police during the General Strike of '34.
While you’re around North Beach, locate the old Barbary Coast (Washington, Jackson, and Pacific, between Battery and Columbus). There are walking tours, but maybe not at this time of year.
Oh, yes - the California Gray whales are running - get thee to Fort Mason and get tickets (Oceanic Society ?). Sniff around google.
I went by the Camera Obscura/Cliff House a couple weeks ago, and there was no sign of construction, so maybe you’ll luck out - check out the trails around Land’s End anyway.
The best place to photograph the GG bridge is just below the “Visitor’s Center” - there is a nice, paved path.
Notice the chain-link fence - the area was an army base, and the land is toxic/we don’t trust people not to fall in - whatever, look for small holes cut in the fence - those are where your lens goes.
Get a good handle on the bus system and just head through the city. I’d second nearly all of the recommendations so far, especially golden gate park (with the neat science museum) and City Lights bookstore.
The headlands southwest of the Golden Gate are spectacular at sunset. I also had fun on a short trip to Berkeley - we just toured the campus quickly and then walked up and down Telegraph ave. Nice place. I’ve also heard that riding the elevators at the Francis Drake hotel is a really fun time, although I’ve never had a chance to do it.
Would a day trip to Monterrey be in the cards? The aquarium alone is worth the trip. Not to mention The Wild Plum, which is quite possibly the best sandwich shop anywhere.
Um…hate to break it to ya, but you didn’t see any sea lions mating. They’re all adolescent males at Pier 39. They’re the ones that don’t GET to mate, which is why they hang out and stink up the place. Poor suckers.
In regards to Must Sees in San Francisco, I will concur with most of what people have said here. SF is a good walking-around city, and the places you can’t get to by foot are generally serviced by MUNI, the city transit system. Good neighborhoods for seeing interesting sights/people/architecture: Chinatown, North Beach, Haight/Ashbury, Lower Haight, Mission. Good neighborhoods for food: Mission, North Beach, Lower Haight. I second the idea of taking BART to Berkeley and walking around the campus and Telegraph Avenue, though there is good (spendy) shopping to be had around 4th street and on Solano Avenue.
My favorite places to take people who visit include the presidio area for a great view of the bridge, Alcatraz island, Golden Gate Park (there are LOTS of things to do in the park), the Cartoon Art Museum on Mission Street between 2nd and 3rd streets, Ocean Beach, and the Musee Mechanique, which has recently relocated to Pier 45. As happyheathen said, don’t go to the Metreon, unless you feel the overwhelming desire to buy overpriced stuff or see an overpriced IMAX movie. Ugh, what an eyesore.
I could be wrong, but the UN Plaza is on Market Street, around maybe 7th Street. And the City Hall plaza is “Civic Center.”
Yep, it’s a big marble doorway/archway that survived. Go in the park at 25th Avenue from the north (richmond District) on the left side of 25th, stay on the main road for say, 100 yards, and take the first trail on the right, either fork will do.
Feel free to IM me for directions or ideas… s’in my profile.
And if you’ll be here on the 14th, see the “BADs” link in my sig.
Oh, and go up to Twin Peaks if the skies are clear over downtown SF. It’s sbsolutely amazing, day or night. You can see from bridge to bridge, and beyond… Pac Bell Park, downtown, a good portion of the East Bay, and even up towards the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge if you’re lucky.
It’s been a while since I went to San Francisco (1985), but here’s what I did that I really liked: Twin Peaks, although it was very foggy it was still a great place; took a boat cruise of the harbor (didn’t include a stop at Alcatraz)–fortunately it was a beautiful day and it was wonderful; I too had a transit pass that my brother had gotten for me and I rode both buses and cable cars exploring around–this is really a great idea; Pier 39 was great because I had a stone crab cocktail :); Golden Gate Park, where I saw the Japanese Tea Garden, the Zoo, the Botanical Gardens and the Exploratorium (they even have a simulated earthquake machine there, though I didn’t really want to explore that … !); Golden Gate Bridge & Marin Headlands–wonderful views there, if it’s not -too- foggy, that is; did a quick tour of both Berkeley and Oakland; went to the area of Cliff House to view the seal rocks (and actually saw some seals!); I also visited Half Moon Bay & went up the coast a bit to Wine Country, where I toured a winery. Oh yeah, I forgot China town, which is indeed a tourist trap, but oh my those stores have some interesting stuff!
If your brother is a rolling-in-money kinda lawyer make him take you to La Folie (2316 Polk St San Francisco, CA 94109-1822 phone:(415)776-5577). It’s the best thing that will ever happen to your mouth in public. I’m not kidding. If he’s rolling in slightly less dough, go to Zarzuela (corner of Hyde & Union, (415)346-0800) which has astonishingly good tapas.
A far better place to see sea lions (if not so many) is out at Seal Rock. There’s also the ruins of the Sutro Baths (where the ending of Harold and Maude was filmed) out there. Good pictures about halfway down this page. If you go out there, do not miss the Musee Mechanique. It’s all the old coin-operated things you used to find in amusement parks; the Laughing Lady alone is worth hearing. I also like the camera obscura (which gives a rotating view of the area around outside) though I haven’t been by to see if it’s still open.
As for historical sites, you can visit the SF museum in City Hall for information. And TroyMcClureSF’s right – the UN plaza is not the plaza with trees directly in front of City Hall, but across the street from that (Turk?) (also where one of the Civic Center BART exits comes up)
Fort Point was built around the time of the Civil War to guard the Golden Gate. It’s located directly under the south end of the bridge, and gives some nice views straight up into the bridge.
If you like hiking and are interested in another historical site, take the ferry to Angel Island. There’s trails that go all the way around the island, an old military base & Nike missile site, and the station where many Chinese immigrants were detained during the days of the Exclusion Act. (The wax figures in one display were donated, so they have Mike Piazza interrogating with Marlon Brando interpreting).
A portion of the same portico is now in another part of the park – chopped up into pieces. The chunks of stone are makeshift benches and one has been turned into sort of shrine. People tend to leave fruit (offerings?) and decorate the trees around the spot. It’s located on a dirt trail on a hill north of the Baseball fields, near the Academy of Sciences.
And if you follow the source of Lloyd Lake all the way up the street, you’ll find a nice little cascade; go to the top of that and you’ll see the Prayerbook Cross.
One of the most memorable meals of my life. Outrageously good.
Another sure fire hit – Yank Sing in Rincon Center (just south of Market, near the financial district and not too far from the new ball park). Delicious Dim Sum. (If you’ve never had dim sum, you are in for a treat – a huge selection of delicious dumplings).
Or, if your tastes are slightly less refined, there’s Tommy’s Joynt at Geary & VanNess. You may heve to dodge a beggar on the way in, but the sandwiches are good and the ambience is . . . indescribable.
If it is still open, (and you’re 21 or older) try House of Shields (New Montgomery, across from the Palace hotel (a whole bunch of stories in itself)) - a real, live old bar - (at least used to be) a long bar with no stools - a brass footrail. Women weren’t allowed (downstairs, at least) until the 1970’s. Rumor has it the Prohibition-era escape tunnel is still there.
UWhite is right about the bus system (and of course BART). They have a great public transit system; IIRC it was considered so even before BART, when they only had buses and a few trolleys and cable cars.
But I think s/he’s mistaken, if by “neat science museum” s/he means the Exploratorium. That’s not in Golden Gate Park, but up near the northern end of the penninsula. The Masonic Street bus goes very close to it. NB: since the OP evidently doesn’t know the city yet, Golden Gate Park is nowhere near the Golden Gate, but adjacent to Haight Ashbury. GGP is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon bicycling, perhaps stopping a Stow Lake to rent a rowboat. There is another park near the bridge, but I don’t know what it’s called.
If you like hot, hot, hot Chinese food, Brandy Ho is excellent. I forget the exact street, but it’s in North Beach near Columbus and Grant.
That’s true, but the California Academy of Sciences is ALSO a neat science museum, and it IS in Golden Gate Park.
Hey, anyone else remember the two-headed snake? Anyone? I was in St. Louis for Thanksgiving, and I went to the St. Louis Science Center (quite cool, they have definitely been to the Exploratorium), and in some exhibit about genetics and mutation, they had a picture of the two-headed snake! I am 100% certain that it is the selfsame snake that horrified and delighted a generation of San Francisco schoolchildren.
No more so than other cities, I guess. I’ve walked around skeevy parts of town late at night, alone plenty of times and nary a bad thing happened to me. Of course, I am pretty stupid.
I’d recommend being really aware of your surroundings if you go to Oakland, though. They’re having some serious crime problems there right now, but if you stay downtown/in good neighborhoods, you’ll be okay.