With its beautiful Bay, iconic Golden Gate Bridge and that unmistakeable feel-good Californian atmosphere, San Francisco is a highlight of any cruise around the Golden Coast that is bound to leave you with a spring in your step. A liberal city that’s rich in culture, you can easily fill your time in San Francisco doing the things you love, whilst seeing some world-famous sights along the way. As a melting pot of culture, history, nature and liberalism, the infectiously happy vibe is what makes this city such a great cruise destination.
San Francisco Bay is the focal point of the city, and arriving into the bay on your cruise holiday it’s a smart place to start when exploring the area. The most photographed bridge in the world, a walk along the Golden Gate Bridge is an essential activity that gives you incredible views over the bay on a clear day. It also takes you to the northern side of the city to the beautiful vistas of Marin Headlands. The peak of these headlands is Hawk Hill, which is the perfect spot for watching the sun set over the bay, cityscape, bridges and Alcatraz.
Alcatraz is an unmissable attraction, and a chance to take a tour around this historic island will give you an insight into its notorious prison. Whether you’ve seen films such as Birdman from Alcatraz or you know very little about the prison that once held criminals such as Al Capone and George Kelly, it’s a fascinating and chilling trip. Available as an excursion from some cruise operators, the island is accessible by boat and can be done by day or night.
San Francisco also has a wide range of galleries and museums beyond Alcatraz, from the family friendly Walt Disney Museum and Musee Mecanique of games and toys, to impressive exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and the Palace of Fine Arts. Although these might be some of the most renowned attractions for history and the arts, you can also get a taste for Californian culture with a visit to the theatre. Ballet is extremely popular in San Francisco, as are concerts and musicals. The Orpheum Theatre and San Francisco Conservatory and Old First Church are just a few of the major venues for performing arts.
For shopping, wining and dining, there are several key districts that are popular amongst visitors and locals alike. Fisherman’s Wharf might be the obvious choice to explore on your visit to San Francisco, however Downtown and SoMa also have plenty to offer. If you want to escape the city and sample the best of California in a more tranquil setting, take an excursion into the Sonoma and Napa Valley wine country beyond the city. This gorgeous landscape produces some of the finest Californian wine in the world, and so makes a great activity for adults during your stop on a cruise holiday.
Another way to get away from the hustle and bustle without straying too far from the centre is to head to a local beach or park. Spend the afternoon sunbathing, surfing or paddling in the sea with a trip to Baker Beach or Ocean Beach, a great free activity for families. Meanwhile The Golden Gate Park is the jewel in the crown of the many parks in San Francisco, with everything from gardens to museums in the huge enclosure.
Experience a city with a difference with a trip to San Francisco that will leave you feeling happy and rejuvenated. This fun-loving city has so many things to see and do, that it’s the perfect cruise destination regardless of what makes your ideal city break.
For more information, check out the official San Francisco Travel Guide for sightseeing ideas, recommended dining, shopping, arts and culture.