The nation's only moving national historic landmarks, the cable cars still run on 8.8 miles of track along three of their original hundred-year-old routes. These motorless carriages travel by gripping onto the constantly-running underground cable on the ascent and releasing on the descent. Average speed: 9 1/2 miles per hour. Steepest grade: 21.3%.See Specials on San Francisco California Vacations
Once the chilling destination of maximum-security convicts, Alcatraz now sees hundreds of thousands more tourists per year than the total number of prisoners in its entire 29-year life as a federal penitentiary. Audio-assisted tours in several languages recount the history of the island and its famous inmate inhabitants: Machine Gun Kelley, Al Capone, Robert Stroud, "the Birdman of Alcatraz." On a clear day, the views of the San Francisco skyline and bridges are alone worth the crossing by ferryboat.
The most popular tourist destination in the city, Fisherman's Wharf is still a working fishing pier, bringing in thousands of tons of fresh fish and crabs annually. Freshly cracked crab and crusty sourdough bread are not the only delicacies to tempt the visitor here. Over eleven million people a year come for the shops, bay cruises, attractions and historic view restaurants.
The world's most famous bridge spans the Golden Gate strait, a mile-wide gap between the bay and the ocean, separating Marin County from the City. The early Spanish explorers sailed up and down the fog-shrouded coastline for years before finally discovering this vital gateway that, in 1769, led them from the violent Pacific to the vast shelter of the San Francisco Bay. The Golden Gate Bridge is actually painted "International Orange." (SFCVB)