San Francisco offers two built-in advantages. It's one of the most scenic cities in the world, and one of the most compact.
The City is situated on a 46.6 square-mile peninsula bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the north by the Golden Gate strait and from north to east by San Francisco Bay. The last provides it with one of the world's finest land-locked harbors.
The Bay is spanned by two landmarks, the Golden Gate and San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridges, and graced by four islands: Alcatraz, Angel, Yerba Buena and Treasure.
The City is built on a series of hills - more than 40! Consequently, almost every other street points the way to a panoramic view of the Bay. The principal hills, which early earned it the Roman sobriquet of 'City of Seven Hills,' are Nob, Russian, Telegraph, Twin Peaks, Mount Davidson, Rincon and Lone Mountain.
Its principal attractions are the century-old cable cars, America's only mobile National Historic Landmark, Fisherman's Wharf with its bayview restaurants and resident sea lions, Alcatraz, once the site of the U.S.' toughest maximum security prison, now a National Park, Chinatown, the largest Asian enclave outside of Asia., Golden Gate Park with its Japanese Tea Garden, Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium, outstanding museums and 1,000 wooded acres, Mission Dolores, founded by the Spanish padres in 1776, the pagoda-crowned Japan Center, the Victorian shopping sector known as Cow Hollow on outer Union Street., Ocean Beach and Seal Rocks.Union Square, home of major-league shopping, North Beach, the Little Italy of the west.
The modern San Franciscan's appetite for cultural phenomena outside the American has fostered a demand for geographically-disorienting experiences - from heartstopping Spanish flamenco dance to moody French noir films; ancient Mesopotamian cuisine to utterly proper English high tea.
The City's innate cosmopolitanism is evident everywhere in its culinary arts, its neighborhoods and street names, its cultural fabric, and especially in the ethnic pageantry which highlights its annual events schedule.
San Francisco's visitors have access to a wide range of sightseeing services, including bus tours of The City and surrounding attractions, boat tours, museum tours, night club tours, personalized tours, self-guided tours, walking tours and fishing excursions.
The famous 49-Mile Scenic Drive through San Francisco is dotted with 49 renowned places, such as Chinatown, the Cable Car Barn, Aquatic Park, Fisherman's Wharf and the Maritime Museum.
For a break from the road, savor a picnic lunch at Marina Green and watch the weekend yacht races, windsurfers and sailboaters.
When summer comes around, Sigmund Stern Grove is the place to go for free concerts and performances of such classics as opera and Shakespeare.
More information: Maps outlining the drive are available at the SFCVB Visitor Information Center (lower level, Hallidie Plaza, at Market and Powell streets, where the Powell Street cable cars turn around)