Although San Francisco, California, only spans 7 by 7 miles, it’s packed with attractions. This coastal city is home to stunning architecture, including two world-famous bridges, along with fascinating sights and outdoor areas.

Alcatraz Island In San Francisco.

Alcatraz Island

Decades ago, Alcatraz Island housed the only lighthouse in the Western United States. In 1934, the U.S. Government opened a federal penitentiary on the island, which remained in operation until 1963. Infamous convicts such as George “Machine Gun” Kelly and Al Capone spent time on Alcatraz, and visitors to San Francisco can tour of the now-closed prison, including the cell house where prisoners lived. It’s about a mile and a half from top tourist attraction Fisherman’s Wharf and accessible by boat.

Nearby hotels include the nautical-themed Hotel Zephyr, The Wharf Inn, and the Holiday Inn San Francisco-Fisherman’s Wharf.

golden gate park
The Japanese Tea Garden at the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is one of the world’s largest parks within an urban area, encompassing 3 miles of land. Visitors and locals are welcome to relax on the grass, enjoy a picnic, or just take in the breathtaking views of Golden Gate Bridge, one of the seven wonders of the modern world. The park also houses two museums, the de Young Museum with American art from the 17th through the 21st centuries, as well as the California Academy of Sciences, which allows visitors to explore the world around them. The science-focused museum includes a planetarium, an aquarium, a four-story rain forest, and a living roof.

Golden Gate Bridge itself, located next to Golden Gate Park, is also worth a visit. It took four years to build and was once referred to as “the bridge that couldn’t be built.” Visitors have a number of hotel options in this area, such as the Inn at Golden Gate and the Argonaut Hotel. For a budget-friendly lodging option, check out the Travel Inn on Lombard Street.

Pier 39
Pier 39 in San Francisco.

Pier 39

Pier 39 is a must-see during any first-time visit to San Francisco. It draws tons of tourists, thanks to a variety of things to do and see. These include the Aquarium of the Bay, restaurants serving clam chowder in freshly baked sourdough bread bowls, and places to pick up souvenirs. The pier also offers impressive backdrops for photos, with views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, Alcatraz, and the city’s skyline. Nearby hotel options include the San Francisco Marriott Fisherman’s Wharf and the Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel.

San Francisco is a beautiful coastal city that is well worth a visit.