The pop songs of the 1960s used to suggest that visitors to San Francisco wore a flower in their hair, but these days the city is as famous for its hi-tech industries as for its hippy counterculture.
Today, one of the most common sights in this flourishing West Coast city are the corporate buses for Google employees, as well as those used by other famous international hi-tech companies. San Francisco is a city that constantly reinvents itself; in the 19th century the area around the city was famous for the California gold rush; the Wells Fargo Bank was founded here, as was the Bank of California; the city has always been popular with entrepreneurs. For many, San Francisco is best identified by the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, which acts as a gateway over the Pacific Ocean. For others, the offshore prison of Alcatraz remains an enduring attraction; the prison is now a popular tourist destination following its closure in 1963 and is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation area.
San Francisco has an efficient public transportation network; its trams are famous throughout the world, but due to the sprawling nature of the city, visitors who wish to carry out a spot of independent exploration should seek out other options. Rental cars are a great idea for anyone who wants to drive along the coast and stop off at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area or go to Alamo Square; movie buffs will recognize this park as a popular location with film directors. Those who are into the Californian obsession with surfing should head down to Ocean Beach, while Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf are the best places to find a tasty meal. Skyscrapers abound in the South of Market district, thanks to the city’s ever expanding hi-tech industry. Further to the south, anyone who fondly remembers the 60s might like to take a walk around Haight Ashbury, though the area has become more up market in recent years.
Visitors travelling with families might like to explore the San Francisco Maritime National History Museum where they are able to check out the 19th century sailing ships that are moored at the Hyde Street Pier. Staying in this part of town, the sea lions at Pier 39 are a great favorite with the locals. Candlestick Point State Recreation Area is to the south east of the city and offers fitness courses as well as picnic areas and hiking trails. Windsurfers flock here in the summer thanks to the ideal combination of wind and beautiful Pacific Ocean. Anyone who is a fan of American football will be interested in taking a tour of Candlestick Park, home to the San Francisco 49ers.
Art and music lovers will find both without having to open their wallet. The Amoeba Music store on Haight Street runs free music shows throughout the day; vinyl is as popular here as CDs. The city boasts many eclectic art galleries, most of which are free to enter. One of the most interesting of them is the Diego Rivera Gallery on Chestnut Street, while the 49 Geary Gallery, on Geary Street, is also well worth a visit.