When you think of California, I expect movie stars and endless pristine beaches come to mind. This is true, but what else is there to do in this great state of the USA? California is all about living life to the full and having something for everyone. Here are a few ideas to enhance your holiday, along with a few not so well known ideas thrown in as well, to aid in your planning of your holiday to the Sunshine State.
Many people mistakenly think it was constructed purely to be a prison in the 20th Century, but the history of this Island goes much further back than that. Indeed, before even the prison was contemplated, the island had been used as a lighthouse and military fortification in the 19th Century before turning into a prison island. It was not until the 20th Century though that the island became infamous with holding top rating criminals in an unescapable environment. There were many escape attempts and one is still talked about to this day, notably the escape of Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarance Anglin. Their file is still open with the US Marshalls service for their recapture and searches will continue until their 100th birthday is reached, could they have been the only successful escapees from Alcatraz and living today?
The Alcatraz tour is based on catching a ferry to the rock from where you will take a self-guided audio tour around the many aspects of the prison. These tours run throughout the year but do get booked up months in advance so early booking is recommended to avoid any disappointment.
Ideal as a day out, this site contains an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and a 4-storey rainforest all housed in the worlds largest public green building designed by award winning architect Renzo Piano. ! Filled with hundreds of exhibits and animals, you are guaranteed to learn something new in a unique and fun environment!
Fishermans Wharf is home to Pier 69, it is one San Francisco most visited attractions year on year. Home to a community of Sea Lions, you can spend hours watching their antics! Try the crab or shrimp cocktails from one of the many fish sellers there, guaranteed fresh never frozen! There is free entertainment throughout the year amongst the chargeable attractions. For value, buy the pier 69 pass which gives you 7 days access to the attractions including the Aquarium of the Bay.
These city tours of San Francisco are a fun and unique way of seeing all the sights on a double-decker bus with 360 degrees view on the upper deck. Take the full tour and use it as a planner for what you would want to do with the rest of your time in San Francisco. With unlimited transportation from 48 to 72 hours, the value for money speaks for itself!
Try seeing San Francisco by Segway a 2 wheeled electrical self-balancing mode of transport which are great to drive and ideal for a more fun way of seeing the sights!
OR how about a GoCar? Drive around town on a pre-recorded route or take one of the several fun and informative detours!
Either way you will see the major sights as well a few notable less major attractions, you really will get the inside scoop on this diverse city.
How about taking a day trip to Yosemite? An action packed day, the coach will pick you up from your city Hotel and take you to Yosemite. Stopping along the way for picture stops including a birds eye view of the whole valley, you will actually have 3-4 hours of your own time in the national park with a range of activities to suit even the most demanding of individuals! You will get up and close and enjoy the raw beauty of Californias most famous national park and the best part letting someone else do the driving so you can relax and enjoy everything the scenery will have to offer! If lucky, inside the park you may even spot a black bear!
Napa Valley and the Sonoma Wine country are within easy reach of San Francisco so how about exploring them in a day? Exploring the wine regions, you will get to visit a mix of large and small scale wineries and see how they are produced from the boutiques to the national brands. Of course, we must not forget the wine tasting sessions too on this tour (with no need for a designated driver so everyone can enjoy themselves!) Sights will include the rolling hills amongst the many dotted vineyards creating a truly unique and authentic tour.
Ever heard of Sausalito? Home to some of the wealthiest citizens in the US, this picturesque little town that is to the north of San Francisco houses many shopping, art and food experiences with mansions and unrivalled views of the bay. Combine this with the majesty and natural landscape of Muir Woods and you have another day of excitement and unique experiences.
Unarguably the most famous bridge in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge measures a stunning 1.7 miles, a walk across this bridge is a must. Rumour has it that it is one of the most photographed images in the world and when you get close up to it or look at it from afar, you can really see why. Also, as a free attraction, a visit is encouraged.
Union Square is a place for the serious shopper, many boutiques and stores line this area. The Westfield shopping Centre houses the largest Bloomingdales outside of New York and the second largest Nordstrom in the US!
The citys Italian Quarter, you can lose yourself in the many streets with side-walk style cafÃ©s, restaurants and shops. Do not forget to visit the Church of Saints Peter and Paul or for an unrivalled view of the bridge and bay from atop the Coit Tower history and art lovers will be in awe at the floor-to-ceiling murals contained within the tower.
No city in the US in complete without a Chinatown and San Franciscos is one of the best including being positioned on one of the oldest streets in San Francisco. To get the true authenticity, exploring on foot is a must, among the many eateries, museums and temples. Do not forget your camera!
Fans of Steve McQueen will no doubt recognise the worlds crookiest street where he had a high-speed car chase in the 1968 film Bullit. Of course, you can still drive down it today but I would advise at a slower pace maybe than in the movies!
Getting around San Francisco is easy, with a well-planned and thought out internal transportation system. Buy a City Pass before you go and it gives you 7 days of unlimited use on all municipal transport that includes the cable cars/trams. Running since the 19th century, San Francisco is infamous with the cable car which is depicted in nearly every film associated with the city. A visit to San Francisco would not be complete without riding this, some would say unique experience!
Food lovers are in for a treat with top notch cuisine around every corner. Check out Jardiniere for American Cuisine from the Iron Chef and Top Chef Master winner Traci Des Jardins. Others that come to mind are Cotogna for Italian or the Slanted Door for Vietnamese.
Arts lovers beware, you will never want to leave! With many museums, galleries, theatres and music venues, the question is where to begin! Jazz? Check out the SF Jazz centre, well known as Americas newest and largest Jazz Centre. Theatre? Be memorized by Beach Blanket Babylon, officially the longest running musical revue in history! Always updating to poke fun at current events, politicians and celebrities, you will not leave without a smile on your face, I guarantee it! Museums included the Museum of Modern Art or try the Asian Art Museum and a visit to de Young museum is essential on any art-lovers list.
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