Here are some things that may make you leave your heart, but not your money, in San Francisco
GOLDEN GATE PARK: Covering more than 1,000 acres, the Golden Gate Park is home to playgrounds, museums, flower gardens and more. On the western side of the park, check out the Dutch-style windmills near John F. Kennedy Drive. Once used to pump water through the park, they now represent a little of the city's history. Also in the western section is the Buffalo Paddock where you'll find not buffalo but bison. Visit http://www.golden-gate-park.com for directions and more information. In the mood for more nature? The Land's End trail north of Golden Gate Park offers stunning views along the edge of the continent; find maps and more information at http://www.parksconservancy.org/visit/park-sites/lands-end.html.
GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE: A grande dame of spans, the Golden Gate Bridge turned 75 years old this spring. And it's looking fabulous. Parking is limited, so public transit is the recommended way to visit. Once you're there, stroll along the eastern sidewalk and take in the beautiful views of San Francisco and the bay. Go to http://www.goldengatebridge.org for more tips and directions, including bus routes.
CABLE CAR TURNAROUND: Riding a cable car costs $5 one way, but watching the drivers turn the historic cars on the turntables at the end of each route is free and fun. A good viewing area is at the Aquatic Park end of the Powell-Hyde line. Information on directions, fares and history of the cars that climb halfway to the stars can be found at http://www.sfcablecar.com.
FISHERMAN'S WHARF / PIER 39: Yes, you can drop a lot of cash on all things kitsch at this popular tourist spot. But there are some free things to take in, too. You can look through the window of the Boudin Bakery (famous for their bread bowls) at Pier 39 and watch bakers twisting sourdough bread into animal shapes. Also at Pier 39, watch California sea lions sitting, or rather, basking, on docks in the bay. You can watch the cruise ships arrive and depart. There are also lots of street performers in this area.
CHINATOWN: The largest outside of Asia- This is a mind blowing experience. You will feel like you have stepped back in time. There are great restaurant, herbal shops, fresh food markets, and culture galore.
PRESIDO PARK/ LUCAS FILMS: For all your Star Wars fans this is something you need to see. The public is invited to visit and enjoy the 17 acres of beautifully landscaped public property (as well as the iconic Yoda Fountain) at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio of San Francisco, CA. You can also get to the lobby of the offices and there is a full size Darth Vader, and tons of Star Wars memorabilia lining the walls.
BEER TOUR: You may know that Anchor Steam beer hails from San Francisco and was at the forefront of the craft brewing movement. But did you know that you can book a free tour of the brewery, located in the city's Potrero Hill neighborhood? You'll need to plan this visit; tours are available by reservation only and reservations are taken up to six months in advance. There are two tours each weekday followed by a tasting. For reservations call 415-863-8350, Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific time.
You can always browse the high end shopping in Union Square, tour Candlestick Park, walk through Ghiradelli Square and browse the shops of Pier 39. There are lots of free thing to do in this town. You can even go see the house where the sitcom Full House was filmed. We highly recommend that you drive down the crookedest street in the world, Lombard Street, it is a great view from the top. Don't forget to pack your walking shoes you are going to need them!
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