San Francisco Holiday Highlights

San Francisco was born in the Gold Rush of 1849; the city grew with the discovery of Nevada's silver mines in the 1870s; it was virtually destroyed by an earth quake in 1906. From the industrial revolution to the peaceful revolution of the 1960s, San Francisco has always been a melting pot of the weird and the wonderful in American history.

Alcatraz is San Francisco's number one tourist attraction, attracting approximately one million visitors a year. The prison was closed in 1963 because it was too expensive to run but for thirty years before that, some of the most infamous prisoners in American history were confined to this island where people now go for a fun day out on their holidays. Outlaws like Al Capone and Robert Franklin Stroud continue to capture the imagination and were the inspiration for movies like 'The Birdman of Alcatraz' (1962), 'Escape from Alcatraz' (1979) and 'The Rock' (1996).

Nob Hill is another place steeped in another aspect of American history. The hill became accessible to millionaires with the development of San Francisco's famous cable cars. The millionaires, known as nabobs, made their wealth as silver kings and railroad barons in the 1870s and built their mansions on Nob Hill. Their mansions were destroyed by the San Francisco earth quake in 1906 - some were restored and the cable cars have become a mascot for San Francisco; a cable car ride over Nob Hill is a good excuse to ride a San Francisco tram and the Cable Car Barn on Nob Hill, where cable cars are kept when not in use, also has a museum with a history of the trams.

"If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair" for a trip to Haight-Ashbury, the birthplace of the hippy movement. During the Summer of Love in 1967, up to 100,000 people gathered at Haight (ironically pronounced "hate") in a peaceful revolution for social and political change. Hang out in Haight for day for some coffee and people watching, and shop for books, clothing, souvenirs and sixties memorabilia.

The Golden Gate bridge was built in 1937. The bridge is 2.7 kilometres long and you can cross it by foot or by bicycle. Anyone looking for a breather from the city might like to go on one of the various hiking trails in the Presidio Park in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Other San Francisco holiday highlghts include Chinatown, a boat trip around San Francisco Bay, and a ferry ride to Sausalito for some views of the city from the other side of the bay.


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