Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Sat August 01 2015

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  • Nicole Connolly | August 1, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    9 Best Experiences in San Francisco

    9 Best Experiences in San Francisco

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

    There are so many things to do when visiting this West Coast gem. Whether you are a foodie, an outdoor recreation enthusiast, or any type of traveler really. In fact, if one of your preferred methods of urban tourism is casual wandering, then San Francisco is your place. Here are the city’s top attractions, a truly diverse grouping of experiences and culture old and new.

    Golden Gate Bridge

    There are several ways to enjoy this iconic star of establishing shots from countless TV shows and movies. You can choose to ride across in your vehicle, traverse via bicycle or park and take a leisurely stroll. The northeast side parking lot offers free one-hour parking and the south side only costs a dollar per hour. Of course, gift shops and restrooms are available at either end of the bridge.

    Golden Gate Park

    This park has over 1,000 acres of trails, lakes, monuments and picnic areas. It is a charming setting that is usually rife with blooms. This is especially true if you visit the Conservatory of Flowers. Located in the northeast section of the park, it offers up more than 2,000 different species of plant life.

    You could also saunter by the aquarium in the center of the park if sea life is more your speed. Finally, don't forget Strawberry Hill. It is the most popular location, with tourists of all types flocking here simply for the view. Some Instagram-worthy photo ops can be found here.

    Cable Cars

    This is one of those San Francisco things you have to do because it is almost as iconic as the Golden Gate Bridge. Furthermore, it is the last cable car system of its kind located in the U.S. It is a popular tourist attraction because the hills make riding the trolley cars so much fun. A ride cost about $6, but if you prefer you can always watch and snap photos from the street.

    Twin Peaks

    This is one of the highest spots overlooking San Francisco. Twin Peaks rises just over 900 feet above sea level, giving you one of the most spectacular views of the city. Take your camera along for this one because you will definitely need it.

    Ferry Building Marketplace

    If you consider yourself a foodie, then this is your destination. The Marketplace offers up a super laid-back atmosphere, along with some of the best gourmet treats in town. Definitely gravitate to the amazing pastries, but also check out the cheeses, oysters and jams. Schedule a trip and indulge, you won't be disappointed.


    Though it housed its last prisoner in the 1960s, The Rock is still open as a historical monument, fun for families and history buffs. Entry to the prison is free, however the ferry ride over is not. Be prepared to drop a decent amount of cash to get to the island, but once you are there the experience is superb. The park ranger and audio guide make it well worth the trip.


    This moniker stands for South of Market and is actually a neighborhood that has undergone vast redevelopment. Known for its thriving nightlife and upscale restaurants, SoMa has something to please your high quality palate. As a bonus, if you are an antiques buff then you will love SoMa. They have several stores featuring vintage European, American and French treasures.

    Fisherman's Wharf

    The Wharf is a San Francisco attraction often accused of being too touristy — but it is a must-see. Pier 39 in particular is a shopping center extraordinaire and the best place to view seals taking in the sun. Ignore the crowds and immerse yourself! Also, the wharf is home to a kitschy Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum and other fantastic San Francisco icons.

    Japanese Tea Garden

    After the intensity of Fisherman's Wharf, the Tea Garden is a great place to unwind. Simply take a stroll down the walkway and pick out the many Japanese buildings. It's colorful and features plant specimens from Japan and China. It was first constructed after the 1894 World's Fair, and has become a unique and highly visited attraction ever since. People even flock to the Bay Area just to visit the tea garden.

    Beyond these attractions, be sure to keep your palate ready for amazing food. San Francisco is home to everything from awesome mom-and-pop dives, to five-star, Michelin-starred restaurants. You can spend as little or as much as you like, and never have the same culinary experience twice. Add in the other attractions featured on our list, and you will have no shortage of fun when you visit.


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Nicole Connolly Suitcase Stories' Luxe Life Travel Tales and Tips

Nicole Connolly Nicole, along with her husband Michael, left her ordinary life behind for a life of extraordinary travel. The couple left Australia in March 2012 and have been traveling ever since. Nicole has a penchant for all things luxury and this shows in their lifestyle. They may live the life of a gypsy but they certainly know how to do it in style. Their goal is to share their experiences and show others how a life of luxury is possible without the big bank account. Follow their adventures at
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