San Francisco (CA) - in one day

December 29, 2014

Start your tour by riding one of the cable cars at the Powell-Hyde (line 60) next to the San Francisco Maritime Museum. Be aware this one is used greatly by tourists and often has long queues. Best time is around 9:00 a.m.

Manually-powered turntables turn the cable cars around at the two ends

The cable cars are pulled by a cable running below the street, held by a grip that extends from the car through a slit in the street surface, between the rails 

On the background, the Transamerica Pyramid, the tallest skyscraper in SF

Get out at Mason Street and visit the free Cable Car Museum. It contains historical and explanatory exhibits on the San Francisco cable car system, which can itself be regarded as a working museum 

Engines and winding wheels of the San Francisco cable car system

While the cable cars are used to a certain extent by commuters, the vast majority of their 7 million annual passengers are tourists. They are among the most significant tourist attractions in the city, along with Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Fisherman's Wharf

Coit Tower, also known as the Lillian Coit Memorial Tower, is a 210-foot (64 m) tower built in 1933 in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood. It was paid for with money left by Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a wealthy socialite who loved to chase fires in the early days of the city's history.

Coit Tower on the background

You can pop again in the cable car and find out why San Francisco is known worldwide for its particularly eclectic mix of Victorian and modern architecture

If you are coming back to Fisherman's Wharf do a quick stop at Ghirardelli Square, a large, former chocolate factory that has been reduced to little more than a chocolate store and eatery.

The volume of people desperately clawing to get into a simple chocolate store is truly breathtaking. People line up to pay for all the chocolate they can get - as if it was being discontinued the next day. The chocolate store is very, very busy - although the chocolate is great.

Ghirardelli Square

Now, for Fisherwan's Wharf, that is a different tale. If you wanted to set up a restaurant to charge the highest prices -- for the worst food -- with a captive audience -- Fisherman's Wharf is on the top of the list.

Bouding Bakery Museum

Still, there is a little bit of hope at the Wharf. like the Ripley's Believe it or Not museum, the Wax Museum, the sea lions, and the clam chowder in a bread bowldown.

Bouding Bakery Museum

It is worthwhile to visit the Bouding Bakery Museum where you can learn the history of sourdough bread and see how it is made.

You can continue your journey by visiting the Golden Gate Bridge.

Fort Point

If you are driving, there is free parking near Fort Point. This historic fort was an important protector of the city during the U.S. Civil War. It is located at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Fort Point

The Frommers travel guide considers the Golden Gate Bridge "possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world". It opened in 1937 and was, until 1964, the longest suspension bridge main span in the world, at 4,200 feet (1,300 m).

Golden Gate Bridge

When walking on the bridge, you can see the Pacific Ocean on one side and the San Francisco Bay on the other.

The Golden Gate Bridge is the second-most used suicide site/suicide bridge in the world, after the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge

The deck is about 245 feet (75 m) above the water. After a fall of four seconds, jumpers hit the water at around 75 mph or about 120 km/h.

The color of the bridge is officially an orange vermillion called international orange. The color was selected because it complements the natural surroundings and enhances the bridge's visibility in fog

Total Length: 8,981 ft (2,737 m)

From the bridge you can see Alcatraz Island, it was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison (1868), and a federal prison from 1933 until 1963.

Alcaltraz Island

If you don't mind being treated like cattle, you can reach the island by ferry ride from Pier 33, near Fisherman's Wharf. Hornblower Cruises and Events, operating under the name Alcatraz Cruises is the official ferry provider to and from the island.

Also you can have views of San Francisco skyline and the San Francisco - Oakland Bridge.

San Francisco Skyline

The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge is a complex of bridges spanning San Francisco Bay in California. As part of Interstate 80 and the direct road between San Francisco and Oakland, it carries about 240,000 vehicles a day on its two decks.

San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge

On the other side of the bridge you can have views of Fort Baker which borders the City of Sausalito in Marin County.

Fort Baker

Many of the military-built buildings still stand, and current institutions in the area include Coast Guard Station Golden Gate, a motor lifeboat station, the Travis Marina (an Air Force Morale, Welfare and Recreation facility), and the Bay Area Discovery Museum. A sustainability and climate change focused think-tank, The Institute at the Golden Gate, has its offices at Fort Baker.

Fort Baker

With so much still to visit, you can end your day with a quick drive to Twin Peaks, with an elevation of about 925 feet (282 m) except for Mount Davidson (283 m) they are the highest points in the city.

Night View of San Francisco from Twin Peaks

The Spanish conquistadors called the area "Los Pechos de la Chola" or "Breasts of the Indian Maiden" and devoted the area to ranching. When San Francisco passed under American control during the 19th century, it was renamed "Twin Peaks".

Night View of San Francisco from Twin Peaks