Known for its hilly streets, cable cars, liberal outlook and the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco is located in northern California on a peninsula between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Founded by Spanish settlers in 1776, the city’s population exploded during the California Gold Rush of 1849. An earthquake destroyed about 90% of the city in 1906, but San Francisco rebuilt and today is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States.How to Get to San Francisco
Some cruise ships dock at Pier 35 (one of two ports; the other is at Pier 27) on San Francisco Bay, not far from the Embarcadero, the city’s downtown. Thus, many of San Francisco’s major sights are within an easy walk from the port. One Day in San Francisco
Start your visit by taking a ride on one of San Francisco’s famous cable cars
, which run up and down the steep streets between Fisherman’s Wharf and Market Street. Those with a strong interest in the history of the cable car may want to stop at the Cable Car Museum at the top of Nob Hill. Otherwise, while the morning fog is still lingering, head to the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood to check out some of San Francisco’s finest museums. In SoMa, take your pick of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Cartoon Art Museum, the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, the Museum of African Diaspora or the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
Once you’ve had your fill of museums, make your way to Chinatown, the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest in North America. Wander through the streets and alleys and stop in at shops selling herbs, porcelain and other trinkets before taking a break for an authentic Cantonese lunch.
Head back down to the waterfront and to Pier 41 and catch a ferry across the bay to Alcatraz Island
. The island was home to a military prison in the late 1800s and a federal prison from 1933 to 1963, infamous for its inmates’ failed escape attempts and for housing criminals like Al Capone. Take an audio guided tour of the prison and then stroll around the island, enjoying views of the city, the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Returning from Alcatraz, head to Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can sample some Dungeness crab, salmon or Pacific herring before returning to your ship.Port Information
The official language is English, although you may encounter locals who speak Cantonese, Mandarin or Spanish as well. The currency is the U.S. Dollar and ATMs are widely available, but currency exchange facilities are harder to come by. You may need to head to a major bank in the city to exchange money.