I love Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. It was a happy place for me when I was a kid and should not be missed. I’ve you’ve never been, by all means go and enjoy! However, as someone who has lived, worked, and loved San Francisco for as long as I can remember, there are other places to see beyond Fisherman’s Wharf. Some of these suggestions may be familiar, some may be new to you but these are just a few of my favorite places that make up the city I’ve always loved.

Dolores Park in the Castro neighborhood, San Francisco California

 

It’s true about the cold summers. Though it might be warm in other parts of the U.S, that’s not always the case in San Francisco. It’s a surprise if you get to wear shorts in June but if you’re going to The City, you should prepare to wear layers. The micro-climates around San Francisco are as varied as the neighborhoods. Personally, I love the June fog but if you’re looking for warm summer days to get clear photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, you might want to visit in the fall.

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park

Did you know that Golden Gate Park is larger than Central Park? It really is a massive park! Golden Gate Park is known for a few notable areas such as the Botanical Gardens and Japanese Garden, and events like the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Golden Gate Park also has the wonderful California Academy of Sciences and the DeYoung Museum walking distance from each other. There are now car-free routes throughout the park where you can enjoy biking roller-skating, or just strolling on a Sunday, something I always loved doing.

Land’s End

View from Land’s End, San Francisco

Do you want to see one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay? Put your walking shoes on and go for a walk at Land’s End. Located at the northwest corner of the city, Land’s End Lookout has a cliff-side trail offering epic views while dotting in and out of Cypress and Eucalyptus trees. It’s one of my favorite walks to take in San Francisco.

Clement Street

Some have referred to Clement Street as the “other Chinatown” but it’s so much more. Like Chinatown, there are wonderful shops and restaurants to enjoy but on a smaller, more intimate scale. It’s located in the Inner Richmond neighborhood full of a diversity of pubs, restaurants, and small businesses to enjoy. One not to miss is the Green Apple Book store, in the neighborhood since 1967.

North Beach

What’s not to love about North Beach? Centrally located in the Financial District, and Chinatown, North Beach is rich with Italian heritage. This is where to get that cannoli. You know the one you’ve been searching for since your trip to Italy? You haven’t been to Italy? Get your first cannoli in North Beach. This is also the neighborhood famous for the Beat Generation, City Lights bookstore, historic bars, and close to Coit Tower.

The Presidio

Some of San Francisco’s oldest history starts at The Presidio. Originally occupied by the Ohlone and Costanoan first nations, the site was perfectly positioned to be a lookout for any invaders coming in from the Pacific. Through the ages, it continued to be used for military purposes. Today, it has become a National Park site with hiking areas, exhibits, and activities. It’s a great stop to make if going to see the Golden Gate Bridge.

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach, San Francisco

How about just having a day at the beach? There are plenty of water views around the city but there’s really nothing like Ocean Beach. Maybe it’s the chilly northern California air but there’s nothing like grabbing a hot drink and strolling on the beach or along side it on the promenade. With almost 4 miles of beach, it’s one of the most tranquil parts of the city.

Japantown

One of the few remaining Japantowns in the US and certainly the largest, Japantown in San Francisco is a treasure. This is a neighborhood I feel the need to check in with from time to time, given how unique it is. Shopping opportunities abound in Japantown with everything from collectibles, clothing boutiques, gift stores, confectioners, and more. Dining options are endless whether you’re looking for street food or Michelin-rated restaurants. J-town is where it’s at!

There’s a reason why Tony Bennett sang that beautiful song. San Francisco has always been in my heart, for as long as I can remember. I grew up in San Jose, south of San Francisco, but escaped to “the city” as often as I could. Just as New Yorkers will defend their beautiful city from those who just don’t quite get it, I have the same reverence for the city by the bay. She goes through stages of everyone loving and hating her, with those of us who will never give up on her, staying true.

Start planning your trip to San Francisco!