The gate to the ‘City by the Bay’ is well and truly open, waiting to welcome you with must-visit attractions and unforgettable experiences. 

Known as the vibrant and multicultural beating heart of California, San Francisco is a traveller’s dream with heaps of sights waiting to be photographed, admired at, and remembered for many years to come. Different from neighbouring Californian destinations such as Los Angeles, this city really does have it all, from the historical and eerie Alcatraz prison to the sweeping landscape of the Napa and Sonoma wine country. Regardless of whether you’ve come straight from our Las Vegas to San Francisco road trip or you’re travelling from other parts of the country, our San Francisco tours and vacations will not only point you in the direction of iconic landmarks including the famous Golden Gate Bridge but will also give you a great insight on what it’s like to live in this picturesque city. Are you ready to marvel at the remarkable layout of Lombard Street and walk amongst the various shops and stalls at Fisherman’s Walk?

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What to see in San Francisco

Alcatraz prison from the San Francisco Bay.

Isolate yourself on Alcatraz Island

Nicknamed “the rock” (and no, we’re not talking about Dwayne Johnson), Alcatraz Island sits about 1.5 miles offshore in the San Francisco Bay and features one of the USA’s most notorious former prisons. Known for its chilling history Alcatraz federal prison was operational between 1934 – 1963 and housed American gangsters such as Al Capone, Mickey Cohen, and Alvin ‘Creepy’ Karvis. Despite the eeriness of this famous landmark, once you’re inside Alcatraz it offers a fascinating view into the American incarceration system and will open your mind to what life was like for the prisoners who were unlucky enough to be jailed there.

Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, California.

Spend some time down at Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is none other than an explosion of the senses with gentle breezes coming off the bay, the smell of delicious and fresh seafood in the air and unique experiences to be had around every corner. This picturesque community offers both indoor and outdoor dining so you can soak up those Californian rays, shops with local ware, and more excitement than your whole family will know what to do with. With gorgeous views of the San Francisco Bay (you might even be able to spot a seal or two), this fun-filled community hub is a must if you want to say you’ve seen it all.

A smiling family standing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Take in the Golden Gate Bridge

How can you plan a trip to San Francisco and not take an iconic photo of yourself in front of the Golden Gate Bridge for the ‘gram? Answer: you can’t. Completed in 1937, this famous landmark connects San Francisco to Marin County and spans two miles over the Golden Gate (the narrow strait where the San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean). Whether you want to look at the Golden Gate bridge at night or during the day, there are many ways to experience its breathtaking stature from walking it with your San Francisco tour guide to taking a bay cruise. To put it bluntly, this spot simply can’t be missed.

Woman walking through the Muir Woods in San Francisco.

Day trip it to the Muir Woods

If you go down in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise due to the nature of the enormous Redwood trees you’ll find in there. Feeling like you’ve just stepped into a fairytale or hundred-acre wood, this national monument is home to an impressive Redwood Forest with 1,000-year-old trees that stand 280 feet in the air. Dwarfing you in size, this tranquil forest is a nature-lovers dream with lush flora to discover and numerous trails to explore making it one of the best outdoor activities in San Francisco. Feel your worries start to drift away underneath the canopy, relish the fresh air all around you and soak up as much peace and quiet as you can.

A Napa Valley vineyard in San Francisco, California.

Enjoy San Francisco’s wine country

When you think of good wine, you’re surely thinking of wine made straight here in California from one of the many wineries to call this area their home. From Napa Valley to the Sonoma region, it’s easy to spend a day flitting between them all, taking in their beauty, tasting their world-famous wine, and eating at their Michelin star restaurants. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur excited to be where all the magic happens or you just enjoy a tipple every now and then, visiting San Francisco’s wine country is a must. No ifs or buts about it.  

The sun sets over the zig-zagging Lombard Street in San Francisco.

Marvel at the zig-zagging Lombard Street

The streets of San Francisco have been featured in many major motion pictures from the much-beloved family classic ‘The Princess Dairies’ to the more recent action-packed ‘Antman and the Wasp’, but the most famous street of all is Lombard Street. Designed in 1922 more out of necessity than spectacle, this winding scenic street features 8 hairpin turns over a one-block span and is sandwiched between beautiful and grand Victorian-style houses. Characterized by its sharp curves and steep hills that are hard to navigate by vehicle, this iconic attraction features superb landscaping making it not only ‘the crookedest street in the world’ but one of the most beautiful.

San Francisco Tour Reviews 

San Francisco FAQs

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy

Getting around San Francisco is quite easy considering the size of the city. Walking or taking public transportation is the prefered option of travel with the streets being easy to navigate and the public transportation system easy to use. The 'muni' (large municipal transportation system) operates bus, streetcar lines and San Francisco's famous cable cars making it the most efficient way to get around the city. 

What to pack for your vacation to San Francisco mostly depends on what time of the year you're traveling in. San Francisco sees mostly mild weather year round so t-shirts, shorts and jeans are a safe bet. It might also be wise to pack a few sweaters as the nights can get a little chilly. You should also pack comfortable walking shoes as that is one of the prefered ways of getting around the city, as well as sunscreen to protect you from the sun's UV rays when you step outside. 

The climate of San Francisco is considered a modern maritime one with mild weather all year round. This means during the Winter the temperatures are quite mild and during the Summer the temperatures can be on the cooler side, however the chance of rain during the months of June, July and August are very low. This cooler climate is due to the city's proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the cold sea water that runs through the bay.  

Read more about the weather in San Francisco

Known as being "the crookedest street in the world" and is one of the steepest street in the city of San Francisco, Lombard Street is located between Hyde and Leadenworth streets and is famous because of a zig-zagging, one-block section with 8 hairpin turns. Hundreds of tourists flocks to this street to marvel at its incredible layout and breathtaking landscape. 

There are a bunch of different hikes around the San Francisco area if you're craving a little bit of nature's beauty from coastal walks to mountain trails. They include: 

  • Lands End Trail 
  • Batteries to Bluffs Trail 
  • Twin Peaks Hike 
  • Fort Funston Trail 
  • Lover's Lane Trail 
  • Angel Island Hike 

San Francisco is a very popular city with tourists coming from all over the country to marvel at its beauty and famous landmarks. If you're traveling from cities within the state of California or its surrounding states, chances are you'll be driving. Below is how far away San Francisco is from its surrounding cities by car: 

  • San Francisco is about 48 miles from the city of San Jose, making the journey by car just under an hour. 
  • The city of Palo Alto is 33 miles away from San Francisco, making it about a 40 minute drive. 
  • San Francisco is a 2 hour drive from Monterey in California, making it a 118 mile one-way trip. 
  • San Francisco is roughly 192 miles from Yosemite National Park in California. The journey by car would take you around 4 hours. 
  • Lake Tahoe is located right on the state lines of California and Nevada so it's roughly 210 miles from San Francisco. It would take you about 3 and a half hours to drive there. 

Read more about how long it takes to get to San Francisco from neighboring cities

Surprisingly the San Francisco Bay is quite shallow with an average depth of about 43 feet. At its deepest point which is right under the Golden Gate Bridge, the bay stands at 360 feet. At its shallowest point, the depth of the bay is only about 15 - 17 feet which is at the northern and southern areas respectively.

Alcatraz prison was closed in March of 1963 due to how expensive it was to maintain. Being completely isolated from the mainland, a lot of resources had to be brought in and the facility itself required too much restoration and regular upkeep. During its time, Alcatraz was known as one of the harshest prisons in the US and housed some of the country's most notorious criminals so its little wonder there have been reports suggesting paranormal acitivity within the prison including ghost sightings and unexplained noises. 

Read more about the history of Alcatraz

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of San Francisco's most famous landmarks and has been since its construction in 1933. Spanning a massive 2 miles in length, this bridge connects connects San Francisco to Marin County and features stunning architecture that makes for some great photos. 

The weather in Muir Woods is much like that found in the city of San Francsico but a little cooler with temperatures mostly staying in the 70's F. If you're walking through the wood in the early morning or in the late afternoon you'll likely see fog and it's recommended that you bring appropriate cold weather clothes such as sweaters as it can get chilly with the dense tree cover. 

Read more about the United States