A Quickie Guide to Your San Francisco Trip

What comes to mind when you think of San Francisco? The Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Victorian architecture and those infamous hilly streets probably pop up. Did you also know you can get an up-close view of sea lions basking by a city dock, and stroll through breathtaking Japanese tea gardens?

The City by the Bay is definitely one of the biggest urban destinations in the United States. Its unique geography, Pacific Ocean locale and stunning natural beauty attracts seven to eight million visitors annually, according to the San Francisco Travel Association. And you're one of them.

Protect Yourself 

When planning any major trip, some pre-trip planning is essential. Travelers have to be on their toes in the digital age, as identity theft is as real a threat as old-fashioned pick pocketing.

Shoulder surfing is one danger. Here's how shoulder surfing works: A perpetrator observes the victim entering his or her PIN, or uses binoculars or cameras to capture sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers and usernames. Perpetrators can access a victim's name, birth date and other details to steal that identity later. To combat shoulder surfing, always shield your keypad or paperwork from view, and if you're using a laptop, keep your back to the wall with no open sides. Enrolling in an identity theft protection program is an even better bet.

Hit the Ground Running

A good airfare is easy to get with the many travel sites on the Internet. There are many options to get from San Francisco Airport to your hotel, including BART rapid rail, Caltrain commuter rail or the SamTrans bus service, according to TripAdvisor. There are taxis, limousines and rental cars to get you around as well, and visit any of the major travel sites to find links to the number of fabulous area hotels.

Top Attractions

The main problem you'll have during your stay in San Francisco may be deciding what attractions to take in. Within the city, you'll want to get a real San Francisco experience by hopping on a cable car. Many destinations can be reached simply by walking or bicycling, if you can handle the steep hills. Don't miss:

Fisherman's Wharf: This must-see includes fantastic food, shopping, family-friendly attractions and activities and some gorgeous views. Stop by Musee Mecanique, a collection of vintage penny arcades, and the renowned Boudin, the premier San Francisco sourdough bakery. Also not to be missed: the hordes of sea lions that have taken up permanent residence at Pier 39.

Alcatraz: Make reservations in advance to visit Alcatraz, the former maximum security federal prison that operated from 1934-1963. It's now managed by the National Park Service, and you can book tickets to Alcatraz Island in advance.

Golden Gate Park: This urban oasis is home to the California Academy of Sciences and many beautiful Japanese tea gardens. There's probably no more famous landmark than the Golden Bridge, the famous suspension bridge that takes visitors from San Francisco to Sausalito.



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