49-Mile Drive - How to See
San Francisco All in One Day…

Some call it San Francisco 101. The 49-Mile Drive is the definitive tour of the Bay Area's ultimate city.

It's a drive that expresses such words as "awesome," "stunning" and "amazing" from almost everyone who takes it.

Imagine reliving part of San Francisco's history... when the drive became one of the major highlights that occurred during the Golden Gate International Exposition held at Treasure Island in 1939. It, also, celebrated the completion of both the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge.

See plenty of San Francisco landmarks, including…

  • Union Square
  • Palace of Fine Arts  
  • The Embarcadero
  • The Seal Rocks
  • The National Cemetery - where the military began burying their dead in 1884
  • Ocean Beach and the Sunset District - once known as San Francisco's Outlands
  • The Golden Gate and Bay Bridges
  • Cliff House
  • The Presidio - 1480 acres of wooded beauty and beach front splendor
  • Sea Cliff - the luxurious neighborhood - also known as Beverly Hills North - nestled on the rugged coast between Presidio and Lincoln Park 
  • Twin Peaks -  where you'll have the opportunity to take in a 300-degree panoramic view of San Francisco
  • Golden Gate Park
  • And much, much more…

…All in one day.

San Francisco from Treasure Island


We're not going to get into everything you'll see here. It would take wa-a-ay too long… and besides it's much more fun exploring the city ourselves… yes?
 
In San Francisco's 49-Mile Scenic Drive Guidebook, the city is separated into
14 different areas to see.

So… we'll just show you some of the places you'll see on your trip.

But before starting out be sure to …

Download a 49-Mile Drive map or…

…visit San Francisco's Visitor Information Center at 449 Powell Street and get a map from them before starting your drive…  cause this journey is difficult to follow without one.

Back when the tour began it started at City Hall, curved along the northern shoreline of the bay and down the Pacific coastline, swooped around Lake Merced, dipped into Golden Gate Park, climbed to the top of Twin Peaks, cruised down Market Street, crossed the Bay Bridge, and ended on Treasure Island.
 
Can you imagine… DeSotos, Hudsons and Studebakers climbing the hills of the city streets with Fords, Buicks and Chevrolets back then.

Today City Hall and Civic Center Plaza are staging areas for starting the 49-Mile Scenic Drive.

The point of a drive is… you'll get to see a lot of things from the comfortable seat of your car.

It's a great experience and a terrific way to see a lot of what the city has to offer.

It introduces you to large swaths of San Francisco’s history while allowing you to enjoy some great scenic views and hit up the highlights of the city.

Whether it’s the nightlife, the street and gallery art or the coffee houses…

… the 49-Mile drive takes you into historic areas like… North Beach  - as popular now as it was when it was originally settled during the forty-niner gold rush days.

Columbus Tower is where a turn-of-the-century flatiron building was converted into Francis Ford Coppolas' movie making headquarters.

The shortest route… yet jammed with attractions…

… is Fisherman's Wharf. One of most popular attraction in the world… and is THE quintessential tourist area.
 
Bubbling over with everything from candy apples to video arcades to street artists and more.
 
But here's where you'll find the best cracked Dungeness crab in town.

The Northern Waterfront… where the locals hang out…

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area of Fort Mason and the Marina Green is where you'll see San Franciscans flying kites, strolling along the bay, or lingering at their yacht clubs.

Fort Mason's filled with small ethnic and craft museums.
 
The Marina Green's the place to go if you want to just take a leisurely walk… ride a bike … or just relax on the lawn.

Maybe you'll want to feed the ducks at the Palace of Fine Arts.

The Northern Waterfront is the real reason San Franciscans love their bay harbor.

Winding up your 49-Mile drive… Downtown and South of Market Street…

Downtown the Embarcadero Center is San Francisco’s premier destination for boutique shopping, outstanding restaurants and popular local events.

The Financial District is responsible for San Francisco’s most recognizable skyline.
Beneath the cluster of towers, businesspeople zip through the Financial District’s sleek revolving doors.
 
In this core San Francisco neighborhood, weekdays fly by as suits and cell phones speed walk past shoppers and merchants.

All six San Francisco Fortune 500 companies—McKesson, Wells Fargo, PG&E Corporation, Gap, URS Corporation, and Charles Schwab—are located in the district.

And then there's… South of Market, also known as "SOMA".

South of Market Street - San Francisco

It is more than two square miles of sleek nightclubs, fashionable restaurants, and art hubs.

Tech-savvy entrepreneurs rub elbows with well-read bohemian types, museum curators and others in the area.
 
Hip bars, clubs, and specialty coffee cafes hide among  its major museums, art galleries, and eclectic mix of international restaurants, hotels, and theaters.

The 49-Mile Drive gives you an overall view at the city by the bay…

It's the perfect way to pick out your special spots that you want to go back and take your time really exploring… later.

However… If you don't want to spend all day driving… there's another way to take the 49-Mile Drive - YEP! A tour bus.
 
A full-sized coach offers a 3½-hour deluxe tour of the city. For about $37, you can leave the driving to someone else.
 
While tour buses can't follow the same route -- they are prohibited in Chinatown and in some residential stretches -- you'll be chauffeured to scenic places not included on the drive… like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alamo Square - home of the picturesque "painted ladies".
 
It's narrated, so you don't need to bring a guidebook. All you have to do is sit back and relax, look out the window and enjoy the sights.
 
Drivers can adapt the route to avoid scenic vistas hidden by fog -- and go back when the sun comes out.
 
So… what do you say… let's hop into our car or schedule a bus tour and spend the day… viewing the city by the bay.


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