San Francisco, United States
Vacations and Travel to San Francisco
San Francisco has class, sophistication and an endless number of possibilities for any visitor who comes to this excellent city. Enjoy the many attractions, nightclubs, bars, shopping centers and restaurants that this City by the Bay offers.
A Little Bit of History
San Francisco began as a section, which still exists, called the Presidio of San Francisco, named for Francis of Assisi. A fort was built there to protect against attacks from the sea, along with an outpost on Alcatraz Island. Mission Dolores (originally called Mission Francisco de Asis), built by the Franciscan missionaries that followed on the heels of the first colonizers, was the first mission built in the area and still stands to this day. The Gold Rush brought people to the peninsula and soon afterwards, a city was built. Treasure seekers and those who were looking for a new life came, bringing with them a mix of cultures and traditions, all of which have contributed to what is now the city of San Francisco.
Icons of San Francisco
Of all the sights to be seen, probably the most iconic are Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge. Alcatraz's function as a prison started as early as 1861, where Civil War soldiers were kept. Military prisoners from the Spanish American War were also kept there. After the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, civilian prisoners were transferred there and began the notorious reputation of this prison. By 1920, the three-story cell house was at full capacity. Famous prisoners such as Al Capone and "Machine Gun" Kelly served time here and of all the 14 official attempts to escape from the island, none have made it off alive.
Nowadays, the island is uninhabited and is a popular tourist attraction as well as the site of the annual Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon, an event which has made it as popular as the Kona Ironman.
The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was completed in 1937. It has since then become a well-known symbol of San Francisco and has proven itself to be a sturdy example of excellent engineering, withstanding 75 mph (121 km/h) winds, earthquakes and rough ocean weather. Drive, walk or bike across the 1,970 meters that this bridge spans and enjoy the view.
A Lot to Discover
The variety of activities you can do and the places you can visit in the City by the Bay are endless. There is always a little something for everyone, from the history buff to the shopping fiend. The downtown area offers a number of places to poke around, from shopping outlets, very elegant department stores to thrift stores and vintage shops.
Food also offers a wide selection to choose from and runs the range of Chinese food to bagels. There are also the typical favorites of San Francisco natives, such as the clam chowder bread bowls from Boudin's to the chocolate from Ghirardelli's or See's. At Fisherman's Wharf, don't pass up the chance to try Dungeness crab, typical of the catch that you can find on a daily basis here. Hanging out in a little coffee shop is always a favorite pastime in a city like this, where you can people watch and perhaps catch a glimpse of the old fashioned cable cars or street cars that run along some of the streets of downtown San Francisco.
Sports are also an important part of the city, which also hosts the professional NFL team, the 49ers, and the Major League Baseball team, the Giants and even a Major League Lacrosse team, the Dragons. Foot races like the Bay to Breakers and the San Francisco Marathon also create a lively atmosphere. In October, Fleet Week always brings festivity with the arrival of Navy ships and fly-overs by the Blue Angel fighter planes from the US and the Snowbirds from Canada. Participate in Chinese New Year in the largest Chinatown outside of China or in the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown.
Bookstores, museums, restaurants, theater, sporting events, nightlife and history are all part of the charm that makes this city an excellent vacation spot. Alcatraz Island is always a fascinatingly notorious part of US history and the architecture has been identified as part of San Francisco's charm, in the form of classic Victorian houses. Catch a game at Candlestick Park. Pick up an It's It Ice Cream Sandwich, a scoop of ice cream in between two oatmeal cookies and dipped in chocolate, a typical San Francisco treat, and enjoy a walk around Fisherman's Wharf. Hit an elegant lounge and enjoy nightlife at its best. Visit the SF Museum of Modern Art and all the cultural activities you can find.
Shopping has its fair share of importance as well and since San Francisco is a major city, you are sure to find major brands and shops in the department stores and in the downtown area. Whether it's a Chinese dress that buttons up on the side, candied popcorn or haute couture that you're looking for, there are stores that can accommodate your every purchasing need.
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