San Francisco's iconic Golden Gate Bridge was the world's longest suspension bridge when it was completed in 1937 (it has since been surpassed in length several times). Spanning the point where San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean, the bridge connects San Francisco to Marin County via California's famous Highway 1.
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As the Financial District skyline attests, San Francisco is very much a city. But the urban center is, for many, an attraction that's secondary to the natural beauty that abounds within and just outside the city limits. Sailing in San Francisco Bay, surfing on the Pacific Ocean beaches, and hiking in the hills of Marin County are among the outdoor activities that are easily accessible from almost any neighborhood.
San Francisco's Alamo Square neighborhood is famous for its park, which offers fantastic skyline views, and its remarkably well-preserved Victorian architecture.
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Hallidie Plaza, at the busy intersection of Powell and Market Streets, commemorates Andrew Hallidie, the designer of San Francisco's cable car system. The plaza is also the site of a turntable that redirects the Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason lines when they reach the end of their routes.
Credit: San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau
The Japanese Tea Garden is one of the most popular features of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, the 1,000-acre green space that stretches to the Pacific Ocean. The tea garden was originally built in 1894 and features the eponymous teahouse, rock gardens, a five-story pagoda, and several small ponds.
Chinese New Year is a time for colorful celebrations in San Francisco's extensive Chinatown district.
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Sunset at Point Reyes National Seashore. Point Reyes is a 70,000-acre nature preserve just a short drive from San Francisco. Extensive hiking trails offer visitors a wide array of experiences including forests, beaches, sprawling meadows, and rocky promontories with spectacular ocean views. You can also see herons, free-roaming elk, and a variety of other wildlife.
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San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood became famous as the center of the city's 1960s counterculture scene. Though the neighborhood has been gentrified is and full of '60s kitsch, the Haight's legacy lives on in its many independent businesses and prevailing bohemian culture.
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A cable car in San Francisco's Russian Hill neighborhood. Russian Hill is located on one of San Francisco's 44 hills and is known for having especially steep and winding roads, including Lombard Street, reputed to be 'the crookedest street in the world.'
Alcatraz Island, known as 'the Rock,' served first as a military prison and then as a federal prison until 1963. Famous for its inmates, including Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelley, as well as many notable escape attempts, the prison has been decommissioned and is now a popular attraction for tourists.