Port of San Francisco
Cruising and Travel

The City of San Francisco is the heart of a busy metropolitan region with a wide range of sightseeing, dining, nightlife, and family attractions. Known for its liberal outlook, Victorian architecture, beautiful hilly terrain, and cultural diversity, the Port of San Francisco is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States and one of the world's most-visited cities. The Port of San Francisco's waterfront offers many adventures from whale-watching trips to tours of the infamous Alcatraz Island. The Port of San Francisco is one of the best places to watch seals (on the docks), and it is a place of glorious natural beauty. For complete information on the many things to see and do in the Port of San Francisco, please visit the city's tourism website.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

View from the Presidio in San Francisco to the northwest, towards the Marin County headlands. Photograph taken 19 April 2002.
Photo by Peter Craig

The Port of San Francisco has a Mediterranean climate with cool dry summers and mild wet winters. Cool ocean currents maintain a relatively constant climate throughout the year. The dry period lasts from May to October, and the rainy period from November to April is damp and cool. Snow is rare. The cold Pacific Ocean waters combine with California's general high heat to create the Port of San Francisco's famous fog, which can cover much of the city during the spring and early summer. With a variety of topographies influenced by the sea, the Port of San Francisco area contains several different microclimates. The hills in the city center create a 20% difference in rainfall in different areas. Temperatures range from an average high of 21 °C (70 °F) in September and October to an average low of 8 °C (46 °F) in January.

Perhaps the most famous landmark in the Port of San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge. Considered by the American Society of Engineers to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, the bridge stretches for almost two kilometers from San Francisco to Marin County to the north. When it was completed in 1937, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge is still one of the major routes in and out of the Port of San Francisco. Since it was finished, the Golden Gate Bridge has closed only three times because of wind speeds. The Golden Gate Bridge is an architectural wonder and one of the most photographed bridges in the world. Today, a hardy group of 17 iron workers and 38 painters maintain the bridge, repairing corroding steel, maintaining the massive rigging, and repainting corroded areas. Since it opened in 1937, more than 1.8 million vehicles have crossed the Port of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

Conservatory of Flowers<br>Golden Gate Park

Conservatory of Flowers
Golden Gate Park

Photo by Two two=4

Golden Gate Park in the Port of San Francisco is a huge (over 411 hectares) tract of land with windmills, museums, bison, a carousel, and many other things to see and do in the Port of San Francisco's The Avenues district. Among the popular attractions in the park is the Conservatory of Flowers, one of the biggest traditional wood and glass conservatories in the world. Opened to the public in 1879, the conservatory survived the 1906 earthquake only to be seriously damaged by another fire in 1918. In 2003, the renovated botanical greenhouse was reopened to offer an important collection of exotic plants. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places among many other landmark lists. The park's AIDS Memorial Grove is a Congressionally-designated national memorial.

Japanese Tea Garden<br>Golden Gate Park

Japanese Tea Garden
Golden Gate Park

Photo by Urban

The Music Concourse is an open-air plaza and the home of the Spreckels Temple of Music (the "Bandshell"). It is also the centerpiece for several cultural attractions that include the De Young Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Japanese tea garden (the oldest public Japanese garden in the US). The 22-hectare Port of San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum contains over 7500 plant species as well as California's biggest horticultural library. Stow Lake, surrounding Strawberry Hill, is a popular spot for rowboats, pedal boats, and powered boats. Spreckels Lake, near 36th Avenue, is home to the San Francisco Model Yacht Club. The Port of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park Stadium, or the Polo Field, has been the site of bicycle and harness races as well as the 1967 "Summer of Love" where Timothy Leary recommended that young Americans "tune in, turn on, and drop out." Bison have been kept at the park since 1891, and Port of San Francisco Zoo staff care for the animals in the park's Bison Paddock.

The Port of San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park is a national park that includes a fleet of historic vessels, a maritime museum, a research facility and library, and a visitors' center. Here, visitors can tour a number of historic vessels that include a 1886 square-rigger, a 1895 schooner, a 1890 steam ferryboat, a 1891 scow schooner, a 1907 steam tug, a 1914 paddlewheel tug, and the 1890 San Francisco Bay Ark. In the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood, the National Historic Park recalls the days of the old Port of San Francisco in its heyday of maritime adventure and flamboyant living.

Presidio of San Francisco

Presidio of San Francisco

Aerial view of the Presidio of San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands, and Mount Tamalpais in the background.
Photo by Robert Campbell

Closing as a military base in 1994, the Port of San Francisco's famous Presidio was created in 1776 and was the longest operating military post in the United States. It served the Spanish Empire as that country's northern outpost. It protected Mexican interests for 24 years. It served the United States Army from 1846 until the late 20th Century. Now a part of the Port of San Francisco's Golden Gate National Recreation Area, it contains the Fort Point National Historic Site that protected the Port of San Francisco from Confederate attacks during the American Civil War. The property also contains the Palace of Fine Arts that was created for the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915. Visitors can explore over two centuries of architecture, visit the national cemetery, or stroll through an historic airfield. They can also glory in the wonderful forests, beaches, and breathtaking views.

Chinatown Gate

Chinatown Gate

Photo by dewet

Two very popular destinations in the Port of San Francisco are Fisherman's Wharf and Chinatown. Fisherman's Wharf boasts street entertainers, wonderful seafood, sea lions basking in the sun, and cruises to Alcatraz Prison or Angel Island. This is a Port of San Francisco must-see. The Port of San Francisco's Chinatown is both a tourist attraction and a living cultural treasure. Visitors will find many wonderful restaurants and unique shops as well as many souvenirs of questionable quality.

Travelers who want to visit the Port of San Francisco by sea can find a list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.

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