San Francisco cable car, San Francisco, California. Community

Experience San Francisco

There's soooo much to see and do in San Francisco, but that doesn't mean it's difficult to choose a first experience for first-time visitors. Take the Powell-Hyde cable car down to Fisherman's Wharf -- the ride is worth the wait. When you reach the top of Nob Hill, grab the rail with one hand and hold your camera with the other, because you're about to see a view of the bay that'll make you all weepy.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California.
Thornton Cohen
Cross the Golden Gate Bridge
Often half-veiled by the city's trademark rolling fog, San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, named for the strait leading from the Pacific Ocean to the San Francisco Bay, spans tidal currents, ocean waves, and battering winds to connect the City by the Bay with the Redwood Empire to the north.
Alamo Square's Painted Ladies in San Francisco, California.
Ken Cedeno
Visit the Painted Ladies
One of the most famous views of San Francisco -- seen on postcards and posters all around the city -- depicts sharp-edged Financial District skyscrapers behind a row of Victorians called "The Painted Ladies." This fantastic juxtaposition can be seen from Alamo Square, in the center of the historic district, at Fulton and Steiner streets.
Funky shops on Haight street in San Francisco, California.
Ken Cedeno
Catch the Funk in Haight-Ashbury
Though the power of the flower has wilted, the Haight is still, more or less, the Haight: a sort of resting home for aging hippies, ex-Deadheads, skate punks, and an eclectic assortment of young panhandlers. Think of it as a people zoo as you walk down the rows of used-clothing stores, hip boutiques, and leather shops.
Chinatown street scenes in San Francisco, California.
Ken Cedeno
Take a Stroll Through Chinatown
Chinatown is a trip. Skip the ersatz camera and luggage stores and head straight for the food markets, where a cornucopia of critters that you'll never see at a supermarket sit in boxes waiting for the wok. (Is that an armadillo?) Better yet, take one of Shirley Fong-Torres's Wok Wiz Tours of Chinatown.