What is San Francisco best known for?

Aside from the famous ‘Bullitt’ car chase, and where they filmed The Princes Diaries, and Mrs. Doubtfire you mean?

The city of San Francisco is popular with visitors for loads of reasons, and people come from all over the world and visit San Francisco to check out multiple attractions the city has to offer. San Fran is a friendly, lively and inclusive city – with amazing food, great shopping and a pretty cool bridge.

So what is San Francisco best known for?

Let’s start with the most obvious…

The Golden Gate Bridge

One of the most iconic feats of engineering, the Golden Gate Bridge, is 1 mile long and was finished in 1937. It’s one of America’s most infamous structures, and has graced many a film with its elegant design. You can cross it on foot, and if you’re willing to brave the winds it is definitely worth the trek. There are also lots of places you can view the bridge from the surrounding city. 

what is san francisco best known for?


If you’ve seen Bullitt (and if you haven’t we recommend it) you’ll know that San Francisco is full of hills. There are 48 named hills within the city limits, but I would definitely make Telegraph hill top of your list. With the stunning art-deco Coit Tower, and views of the Bridge and Bay it really is a sight to behold.

Cable Cars

The San Francisco’s is the world’s last manually operated cable car system. They’ve reached iconic status, and seem to move around the city like well preserved ghosts of time gone by. What better way to see the city than through these windows? Top Tip: For the best views, make sure you’re on the side that faces the bay.

The bay

Whilst the Bay Area includes San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland – the bay is known as San Francisco Bay, right up to the Golden Gate Strait which connects it to the Pacific Ocean. The view is incredible from any of San Fran’s hills, but I’d definitely get a look from the bridge to really take it all in.


This is probably America’s most famous prison. Out on an island in the bay, Alcatraz used to house the most dangerous offenders and gained almost a kind of cult status in Escape from Alcatraz and The Rock, and due to its famous inmates including Al Capone! Tours out to the island run from Fisherman’s Wharf so definitely put this on your to do list.

what is san francisco best known for? alcatraz prison

Amazing Food

San Francisco is pretty famous for its great food – particularly its crab, and it is just to die for! Check out Scoma’s or Crab House at Pier 39 in Fisherman’s Wharf for some mouthwatering morsels.

Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world

This is a seriously crooked street! Because of how steep the hills are, the Town Planners in San Fran needed a way to climb this hill that wasn’t going to be majorly precipitous. Cue the plan for Lombard Street: a series of zig zags from the top to the bottom! Definitely worth checking out.

Gay Scene

San Francisco’s gay scene is absolutely legendary. It’s a pioneer city for Gay Rights (Harvey Milk was from San Francisco, and the first openly gay person to be elected), and has the highest gay population in America. With a thriving scene, and an open, accepting attitude to all, San Francisco is a real champion of gay acceptance that is worth commending. If you visit during the Pride celebrations, the city is an incredible place to experience. 

Hippies and Rebels

The psychedelic/hippy rock scene originated from SF, and whilst tie dye, huge bell bottoms, and teenie tiny sunglasses might be a rare sight in SF today, you’ll still find a few die hard fans rocking it out. It’s home to the beat poets, too – Alan Ginsberg’s Howl was first read at Six Gallery. It’s also a place of rebellion, some of the greatest sit ins, and protests have been had here! This might be why their basketball team is the SF rebels 😉


San Francisco’s Architecture is to die for. You’ve seen it on TV, and in film; those victorian houses painted all different colours, mixed with striking pieces of modern architectural design. It’s honestly stunning, and will make your insta look amazing.

What kind of a list would this be, though, if I didn’t mention San Francisco’s really weird microclimate. Unlike the rest of California SF can be foggy, clammy, and down right cold all year ‘round. But it can also be sunny and beautiful – we’d just recommend packing a sweater (and maybe an umbrella) if you’re heading out there!

We hope this has helped answer some of your questions about what is San Francisco best known for!

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