Top 10 Attractions in San Francisco


A trip to San Francisco is guaranteed to be both fun and educational. Whether you are planning a graduation trip or setting up an itinerary for a group of students, take a look at these attractions for some tips and ideas about what to see and do in San Francisco.
Golden Gate Bridge
No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a trip to the famous Golden Gate Bridge. There is a new on-site visitor’s center where you can learn about the marvels of engineering the 1.7 mile long suspension bridge and the history of its construction. The park services recommend walking to best take in the experience, though biking is allowed.
Golden Gate Park
Not only can you see the whole of the gorgeous Golden Gate Bridge from one of the hills that surround the bridge, but from here you can visit the Botanical Garden, the De Young Museum, or stop in the Japanese Tea Room. The scenery in the park is stunning in itself and a hike through is highly recommended.
Fisherman’s Wharf
The Wharf area is one of the top tourist destinations in San Francisco for its abundance of activities and businesses. See the local sites with one of the available walking or riding tours, experience an interactive 3D film with moving seats and special effects, stop by the aquarium, or see the wax sculptures at Madame Tussaud’s. From here you can skip across the water to Alcatraz or visit the Sea Lion Center not to mention the dozens of excellent restaurants that dot the piers.
Alcatraz Island
Hop on a ferry from Fisherman’s Wharf to the famous Alcatraz Island, home of the first lighthouse, U.S. military fort, and federal prison. Day tours are partially self-guided with supplementary programs provided by the Park Service on topics like the island’s Native American occupation, prison escapes, and more. The ferry leaves every 30 minutes so you can make your stay as long or short as you would like but the park officials recommend at least two hours to fully experience everything the island has to offer. If you are really interested, and dare, they offer night tours which is said to be a totally different experience.
California Academy of Sciences
Located in the beautiful Golden Gate Park, this institute includes a planetarium, aquarium, natural history museum, and a rainforest biosphere. Exhibits recommended for adults include the “Human Odyssey” which shows the evolution of man and society and the Tusher African Hall. Groups are welcome and those with ten or more individuals are allowed to pre-reserve seats at the planetarium. Stop by and wander through the exhibits, see the albino alligator or watch the SCUBA divers swim through the coral reef at the aquarium.
De Young Fine Arts Museum
This wonderful collection of fine art was only recently made available to the general public. The collection contains pieces from the Americas, Africa and Oceania as well as paper, textile, and photographic art. Groups of ten or more are welcome to take advantage of additional amenities such as the private docent-led tours or the special programs for K-12 students and college students.
San Francisco’s nationally famous Chinatown is the largest in the world outside of Asia and the oldest in North America. Take a walking tour through Chinatown’s culture and history, see the Fortune Cookie Factory or Portsmouth Square on your way to one of the dozens of restaurants. Be sure to check out the many cultural events that are sure to be taking place around the time of your visit and join in the fun of one of San Francisco’s top tourist attractions.
Tour of Victorian San Francisco
If you or your group are interested in the history of a place, or can appreciate the beauty of art and architecture, you might want to take the time for a tour of San Francisco’s Victorian past. See the beautiful mansions of Pacific Heights, take the Victorian Home Walk and see the Painted Ladies near Alamo Square, or tour San Francisco’s only Victorian house museum open to the public year-round, the Haas-Lilienthal house.
San Francisco Symphony
Before you scoff at this suggestion and say that you don’t like classical music, just wait. This Grammy winning symphony plays tunes both modern and orchestral with the amazing skill of professional classical musicians. You might be surprised to recognize some songs like the “Lone Ranger” theme or “What’s Opera, Doc?” from the Bugs Bunny cartoons. Come as you are and enjoy the music and spectacular skyline view from the Davies Symphony Hall.
San Francisco Zoo
Everyone loves a good zoo. Exhibits like the Australian Walkabout or the South American Tropical Rainforest allow you to step outside of the United States and into a separate, exotic ecosystem. Each exhibit is immaculately designed and preserved for your enjoyment as well as the animals’ health and comfort. Guided tours are available for K-12 groups with varying topics depending on age and for adult groups, Wild Walks is recommended as an informative docent-led tour.
The City by the Bay has much to offer from cultural and historical sites to relaxing hikes through one of its many scenic parks. Take a group tour to Alcatraz, explore the informational exhibits at the Academy of Sciences, or look over the colorful houses known as the Painted Ladies. When choosing what to enjoy on your student trip to San Francisco, educational and interesting destinations are never in short supply.