San Francisco Landmarks You Don’t Want to Miss

San Francisco is one of the most popular destinations to visit in the world. More than 26 million travelers visited the city in 2019! That is to say, the iconic San Francisco is full of must-see landmarks. Let’s dive into our top recommendations San Francisco landmarks you won’t want to miss out on.

Top San Francisco Landmarks

According to the experts at TripAdvisor, here are the top 6 San Francisco landmarks you must see during your visit.

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island is one of the most famous landmarks in San Francisco. The island has lived many lives. Firstly, it was used by Indian tribes as a place of isolation for those who violated tribal laws. Secondly, it became the West Coast’s first lighthouse and one of the most powerful fortresses. Thirdly, it became a military prison then a federal penitentiary. Finally, between 1969-1971 it was occupied by American Indian groups advocating for indigenous self-determination before becoming the national park it is today.

Most who visit to this historical San Francisco island are looking to visit the federal penitentiary. It is open to the public, and there are many tours to choose from. This maximum-security and minimum-privilege prison was designed for inmates that regular federal prisons could not handle. Famously, Al “Scarface” Capone and George “Machine Gun Kelly” were held captive at Alcatraz.

Visiting Alcatraz Island–one of the coolest historical sites in San Francisco California–is easy! Plan your visit here. You’ll need to take the Alcatraz City Cruises ferry and purchase tickets to visit the prison. Spend between 2 and 4 hours exploring the island, prison, old fort, and gardens before returning to SF. Catch breakfast or lunch at Eagle Cafe at Pier 39 before you leave or when you return from visiting Alcatraz!

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is probably the landmark San Francisco is best known for. However, did you know it is also one of the San Francisco historical sites?

When it was finally built in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge set the record for the longest bridge span, the furthest distance between supports, and the tallest bridge towers of its time. It is also uniquely in the Art Deco style of the 1920s. For example, it features chevron designs and decorative stepped brackets.

There are many ways to experience the Golden Gate Bridge aside from driving across it. For instance, you can visit Fort Point, another of San Francisco historical landmarks, for a nice view of the bridge. Or, you can walk or ride a bike along the bridge’s sidewalk.

Pier 39

Pier 39 is a favorite for families and visitors of all ages. It is a hub for seafood restaurants, shopping, and activities with unbeatable Bay views. Check out Crab House’s Guide for Things to Do at Pier 39 for a comprehensive look at this popular destination’s extensive entertainment.

The first thing you must do when you visit Pier 39 is check out the sea lions. These sea lions have been sunbathing and playing on Pier 39’s floating docks since 1989. Fun fact: did you know that California sea lions are said to be the most intelligent sea lions in the world?

Pier 39 is the best place to enjoy fresh and sustainable seafood. Pier Market Seafood Restaurant is a great option for groups, Crab House has the best sizzling iron skillets of roasted Dungeness crab, and Fog Harbor Fish House is the spot for a more elevated experience. All of these restaurants have bay views, just like Eagle Cafe!

Oracle Park

Oracle Park is home of the major league baseball team the San Francisco Giants. It is also host to special events and concerts throughout the year. Built in 2000, this stadium cost $357 million to build and seats 42,300 fans! Catch a game, watch a show, or take a behind-the-scenes tour any day of the year.

Lombard Street

Lombard is known as one of the most loved San Francisco monuments. Known as the “Crooked Street” between Hyde and Leavenworth, most than 2.1 million tourists visit this destination per year. That’s as many as 1,400 pedestrians per hour!

It is an Instagram-worthy street: you can take a cool picture from the bottom looking up at the crooked way, or from the top overlooking the San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge, and Coit Tower. Did you know that the hairpin turns were added in the 1920s to increase safety for pedestrians?

If you’re planning a trip to San Francisco around springtime, be sure to check out the annual Bring Your Own Big Wheel Race held every Easter Sunday. Community members will race big wheeled plastic bikes on Lombard. It’s a festive sight that has been taking place for over 24 years!

Fisherman’s Wharf

This neighborhood is one of the historical places in San Francisco you must experience. Visitors can enjoy looking at the water, watching fishermen work, or strolling around the shops, restaurants, and attractions. Fisherman’s Wharf is known for its fishing fleets, Dungeness crab, Italian heritage, and cable cars.

If you’re looking for things to do in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, check out our post about Things to Do in Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco. Consider renting bikes from Blazing Saddles and exploring the wharf by bicycle. After you’ve worked up an appetite riding along the scenic waterfront, grab a bite at the historic Eagle Cafe at Pier 39.

Eagle Cafe: A San Francisco Destination

Eagle Cafe is a historic cafe that was established in 1928. It used to be located on Embarcadero and Powell. However, PIER 39 founder and developer Warren Simmons wanted Eagle Cafe to be part of the opening line-up of restaurants on the pier. So, he came up with a plan with the cafe’s then-owners, the Andreotti family, to put it on jacks and wheel it down the street to Pier 39!

Simmons’ grandchildren now own and operate Eagle Cafe. In other words, Eagle Cafe’s connection to the Simmons family spans three generations! The cafe is now perched on the second floor of Pier 39. So, it has incredible views of the San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz Island.

Visit Eagle Cafe for the best breakfast and lunch in the Bay! With classics like Banana Pecan French Toast and Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl, Eagle Cafe is the place to dine on Fisherman’s Wharf.

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Walk-ins welcome! Enjoy 1-hr free parking validation in the Pier 39 garage.