San Francisco packs about 800,000 people onto a 7-by-7-mile peninsula--it's the most second-most densely populated U.S. city behind New York, but it enjoys a reputation that's much larger. It's routinely ranked #1 among travelers' favorite U.S. cities for many reasons: landmarks known around the world, a wealth of museums, cosmopolitan neighborhoods, and a rich mix of Victorian and modern buildings spread out over its famously steep cable-car hills.
There are entertainment options for any taste, whether you prefer opera, the theater, nightlife, baseball or street fairs. Among the free events that draw thousands to the "City by the Bay" are the Mostly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, San Francisco Jazz Festival, Stern Grove Festival, Pride Parade, Chinese New Year Parade and jam-packed summer street fairs in several neighborhoods. If you're willing to open your wallet, you can enter the Bay to Breakers race, attend the symphony, see a modern-dance performance or dine at any of San Francisco's restaurants--arguably the best array of gourmet and ethnic restaurants west of Manhattan. And if you want to just enjoy the mild weather, since it's almost always between 50 and 75 degrees, you can walk along four-mile-long Ocean Beach, do a bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge or jog the eucalyptus-shaded trails of the Presidio.
San Francisco landmarks that draw the most visitors include the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz, Chinatown, Union Square and Golden Gate Park. If you haven't been to San Francisco in a while, you'll especially enjoy visiting the waterfront, which has undergone a dramatic makeover with its sparkling bayfront path, walking piers, baseball stadium and Ferry Building Marketplace. Close to downtown hotels and museums, all of these attractions are connected by historic trolleys that run between the Ferry Building and Fisherman's Wharf. Whatever you choose to do, you'll want to return for more.