The Top San Francisco Attractions That Aren't Bridges!

Although a compact city, San Francisco has more than its share of fantastic attractions — from iconic monuments and world-class bridges to space age museums…not to mention the cable cars and Golden Gate Park. In fact, it's home to the nation's first science museum (once housed at the gorgeous Palace of Fine Arts, now at Pier 15) and the oldest conservatory, the Conservatory of Flowers.

Children and adults alike will marvel at the Aquarium by the Bay, the many activities at Fisherman's Wharf, and the national-park-within-a-city, The Presidio. And who's not going to love riding on the cable cars? Let's take a look at our selection of top attractions.

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San Francisco Cable Cars

Cable Cars

If there's one thing that says "San Francisco" it's the cable car system. Although they're perhaps the most loved tourist attraction, the cable cars are actually still used by thousands of local commuters every day!

It's hard to believe that the City of San Francisco tried to dismantle the cable cars in 1947. Lucky for us they were stopped by a public outcry from cable car lovers. Learn more and find out about the free Cable Car Museum.

Pier 39 & Fisherman's Wharf

Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf

There's a whole lot of fun going on at Pier 39 & Fisherman's Wharf! Here's where you visit the Aquarium of the Bay, grab a bite to eat at one of the bustling seafood restaurants, and view the sea lions.

The piers are also the starting point for bay cruises, ferries, catamarans and helicopter rides to take you to Angel Island, Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito and beyond. Read our guide so you don't miss any of the fun.

Hyde Street Pier

Hyde Street Pier

In the era before grand bridges, Hyde Street Pier was the principal terminus for car ferry traffic for the entire Bay Area. Today, it's part of the waterfront's San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and it's where you can see and visit six historic ships from the age of sailing and the age of steam.

We'll tell you about Hyde Street Pier and its ships, and how to visit.

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The Ferry Building

The Ferry Building

Once a thriving ferry terminal at the Port of San Francisco, with thousands of commuters passing through daily, over time the Ferry Building became sad and neglected, hidden behind the imposing (and ugly) Embarcadero freeway.

The 1989 earthquake brought the freeway down, starting a chain of events that led to the Ferry Building being restored to its former glory and becoming a center of San Francisco food culture. Discover how it happened and find out what culinary delights await you there.

San Francisco Aquarium of the Bay

Aquarium of the Bay

This busy aquarium is actually a non-profit organization aimed at preserving the San Francisco Bay ecosystem through education and public awareness. But that doesn't mean they don't know how to have fun!

There are plenty of hands-on interactive activities and displays that are entertaining for the entire family. By the way, entrance to the aquarium is free with both the GO San Francisco Card and the San Francisco CityPASS.

Lombard Street

Lombard Street

This crazy, curvy boulevard is the crookedest street in the world. Or so they say in San Francisco, and we believe them!

You can drive down its eight hair-pin curves (all contained on one short downhill block), you can walk on the curvy sidewalk, but the craziest way to traverse it is on a Segway guided tour of the city! We tell you all about it in our guide to Lombard Street.

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The Presidio

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What's civilian life like after a couple of hundred years in the military? The Presidio knows, and it's flowered into a great urban destination with hikes, historic sites, the Walt Disney Family Museum…the list goes on. It's also one of the rare US National Parks found in an urban setting. Don't miss it. In our review we suggest the best way to see it is on a guided urban nature hike.

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