30 Things San Francisco Is Known And Famous For

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San Francisco is one of the largest cities in California. It ranks fourth as the most populous in the state, with a population of over 900,000. San Francisco is known for its historic landmarks, lively neighborhoods, and many other attractions that immerse tourists in the city.

There is a good reason why this is one of the top travel destinations in the United States.

What Is San Francisco Known For?

San Francisco is famous for the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, buzzing neighborhoods such as Chinatown, and its many museums and historic architecture.

The city is also known for being a liberal place, boasting a strong gay community. One of the most well-known facts about San Francisco is that it houses the headquarters of several leading tech companies in the world.

History, Culture, And Traditions

Exciting Festivals

San Francisco is famous for its various unique festivals and parties that are held all year long. The city’s residents are some of the merriest and most accommodating people in the world. This is translated in the manner of street festivals they organize.

Some popular festivals you should plan to attend include the Fringe Festival. North Beach Festival, Chinese New Year Festival, Pride Day, and lots more. Whatever the month, there is an array of festivals for you to enjoy.

Strong Gay Community

San Francisco is known for having a huge LGBT community. The city has a long, friendly history with the community and its members. Some defining events in the advancement of LGBT happened in San Francisco, consequently making the city government include LGBT members in the politics of the state.

Thanks to the annual San Francisco Pride, thousands of gay tourists and LGBT allies gather in San Francisco to take part in pride parades. You will find one of the largest and most passionate pride parades in the world here.

Art Appreciation

One of the oldest attributes of San Francisco is the intentional efforts made to preserve and promote its culture and history through art. As such, the city is packed with multiple art centers and museums.

You can visit these key attractions in San Francisco to learn about the history and culture of both the city and state.

There are museums for people of different interests. Tourists interested in contemporary art can explore the collections of artworks at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

If you are interested in authentic African artwork and pieces, de Young Museum is the place, while the Asian Art Museum caters to your artistic and cultural interests.

Home To Fortune 500 Companies

San Francisco is also famous for its business-centric atmosphere. Beyond the fun and attractions it boasts of, the city serves as the base of several global companies that rank among the most successful organizations in the world.

Companies such as Salesforce and Wells Fargo have their headquarters here, making their offices some of the most famous places in San Francisco. If you are a business person, the building complex of these companies can be interesting places to visit.

In addition, the state of California is known for technology and innovation with places like Silicon Valley taking a lead in the startup scene.

Vibrant Nightlife

San Francisco’s cultural diversity has hugely contributed to the lively nightlife the city boasts of. There are plenty of new things to do whenever you walk down a street in San Francisco.

From the incredible live music from roadside bars to fine food served in restaurants, and beautiful performances at various theatres, San Francisco spoils you with activities to enjoy at night. These activities are some of the famous things to do in San Francisco.

If you want to enjoy great electronic music and flex some muscles, there are plenty of nightclubs open till day. You can catch some of your favorite shows at the Orpheum Theatre located in the Civic Center.

Mexico Ties

San Francisco has strong ties with Mexico, as it was formerly owned by the Spanish empire, which later became Mexican. San Francisco Bay was the most northern outpost of the empire.

Years after the settlement was claimed by the United States, the city still recognizes the Mexicans and their influential Hispanic culture. There is a Latino Cultural District in San Francisco, which you can visit to learn more about the history of Mexicans in the state. 

Districts And Areas


This neighborhood is located in downtown San Francisco, centered on Grant Avenue and Stockton Street. It is the largest Chinatown outside Asia and the oldest in North America. This neighborhood offers a rich experience to its visitors.

The city is known for its bustling nature and attractions, including its major festival of the year, The Chinese New Year, which kicks off every year with a parade downtown and the center of the district.

Chinatown is home to a few insightful museums such as The Chinese Historical Society, where you can learn more about the neighborhood.

>Check Chinatown Walking Tour

Upper Market

Upper Market is a palm tree-lined neighborhood characterized by its urban feel and history of liberalism. The neighborhood is considered one of the best places to reside in San Francisco with a low population and an abundance of amenities.

Upper Market, also known as The Castro, has plenty of bars, restaurants, and coffee shops to enjoy. This is one of the well-known neighborhoods in San Francisco as it is very liberal and welcoming to all.

Union Square

Located in downtown San Francistown, Union Square is a top tourist destination which San Francisco is famous for. The district is a great shopping and entertainment spot, boasting luxury stores, bars, restaurants, and cafes that altogether make your visit to the square worthwhile.

The plaza, for which the area is named, is home to an amphitheater and stone pedestal built for performers who are always present to entertain the crowds. Along with the surrounding bars and restaurants, another notable destination close to the square is the theatre district where you can stop by to watch a show after your day at the plaza.


Fisherman Wharf

This ocean-side neighborhood on the city’s northern waterfront is as lively as they come. The area brims with tourists who are well-received by the locals and treated to an exotic experience. Your visit to the location is rewarded with a beautiful of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge

The area boasts irresistible attractions crowned by its historic buildings, along with hotels, restaurants, and shops that offer nothing short of luxury, quality food, and items. You can wander the neighborhood, explore the fascinating museums, or board a cable car ride over the hilly streets.

South of Market

Near Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf is the lively neighborhood of South of Market, known locally as SoMa. It is one of the most famous places in San Francisco.

SoMa is home to some famous landmarks in San Francisco, including the Oracle Park baseball, home of the San Francisco Giants – one of its biggest attractions.

It is also a huge center for art with several museums that would interest art lovers. A few of the popular attractions are the Museum of Modern Art and the International Art Museum of America. Families will particularly love the Children’s Creativity Museum.

You can enjoy yourself at the many popular bars and restaurants scattered around the city. If you feel like having a solemn and quiet reflection, visit The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and Waterfall.

Nob Hill

Nob Hill is an affluent neighborhood that dazzles with its impressive architecture. It is one of the historic areas San Francisco is known for.

The neighborhood used to be the location of the Big Four railroad barons’ mansions and other wealthy people. It has maintained its affluence thanks to the rise of upscale hotels, fascinating buildings, and luxury restaurants.

One of the best attractions in the neighborhood is the stunning Grace Cathedral. It wears a Gothic architectural look and features beautiful stained-glass windows and Florence Baptistery-fabricated bronze doors.

The Cable Car Museum is also an important and meaningful attraction in the neighborhood. It contains items that narrate the history of San Francisco’s public transport system.

Architecture and Landmarks

Golden Gate Bridge

One of the most iconic and recognizable landmarks San Francisco is known for is the Golden Gate Bridge. Designed by Joseph Strauss, the construction of the bridge began in 1933 and was completed in 1937, crossing over the strait connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

If you are a big fan of Hollywood, chances are that you’ve seen this on your TV screen one too many times. That’s how prominent the landmark is. The bridge is also the main feature on the badge of the San Francisco-based basketball team, the Golden State Warriors.

This scenic spot is not just significant to San Francisco but is easily one of the most famous landmarks in California.

Twin Peaks Tavern

As mentioned before, San Francisco is an LGBT-friendly city: and one of the dividends of that is the Twin Peaks Tavern, which is one of the first gay bars in the city.

The bar is an iconic landmark because of its location. It is close to two imposing hills called Twin Peaks, which the bar is named after. You can visit Twin Peaks for great views of the city and surrounding. Do take note that it can get very windy at times due to its elevated height.

Palace Of Fine Arts


This historic building is one of the few remaining buildings from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. It is one of the most spectacular architectures San Francisco is known for.

After it was demolished in 1964 and rebuilt in 2010, the palace has been one of the most desired locations for weddings and romantic dates. This is in no small part due to the stunning scenery and space it offers.

Apart from visiting the palace, you can also catch a show at The Palace of Fine Arts Theatre located within the area. The historic nature and convenient location makes this one of the famous San Francisco landmarks.

San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is one of the most renowned museums in the city. The cultural landmark was originally established in 1935 as the War Memorial Building before it opened as a museum in 1995.

This is one of the largest art museums in SoMa(South of Market). The museum offers an impressive collection of art and world exhibitions displayed across seven floors.

The exterior is just as beautiful as the interior with well-maintained gardens and terraces, from which you can catch stunning picturesque views of the city.

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz island is located 1.25 miles offshore from San Francisco. Initially developed with features such as a lighthouse, a military fortification, and a military prison, the island was converted into a federal prison in 1934.

One of the most famous places in San Francisco, Alcatraz prison is known for housing some of the most notorious criminals in the history of the US. Years after it was closed in 1963, it became a major tourist destination and then was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

Visitors to the island wander the ruined building and seek to check out the cell blocks and rooms where some infamous inmates were held.

Ferry Building Marketplace

This food market is a historic landmark in San Francisco. Situated at the foot of Market Street, the tower-featured building has a height of 245 feet(75 m) and oversees San Francisco.

The Ferry Building served as an important transportation point for people coming into the city by boat. It functioned effectively until the construction of the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge, which both became the preferred route in and out of the city.

The building was reconstructed and converted into office spaces and one of the most prominent marketplaces in the world.

Sports In San Francisco

Golden State Warriors

Golden State Warriors are a basketball team that competes in the National Basketball Association(NBA). Nicknamed the Dubs, the team is one of the most well-known NBA teams in modern times.

The organization was founded in Philadelphia in 1946. in 1942 it was moved to San Francisco, which has been its home since then.

The Warriors’ impressive trophy cabinet consists of seven championships, seven conference titles, and 12 division titles. Chances are more accolades will be added in recent years.

San Francisco 49ers

Another top sports team San Francisco is known for is the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers compete in the National Football League(NFL). They are considered one of the greatest teams in the history of the competition.

The 49ers first debuted in the All-American Football Conference, where they recorded great success until the league collapsed in 1950. Notwithstanding, the team carried its excellence into the NFL, with at least five Super Bowls, seven conference championships, and twenty-one division championships to show for it.

San Francisco Giants

San Francisco is famous for being the home of the Major League Baseball(MLB) team, the San Francisco Giants. Founded in 1883 as New York Gothams, the franchise is one of the oldest in professional baseball, as well as one of the most successful teams in the history of major American sports.

The Giants play their home game at the 41,915-capacity Oracle Park, San Francisco. The franchise’s growing trophy haul consists of eight World Series titles, twenty-three National League Pennants, and three Wild Card berths.

San Francisco Dons

San Francisco Dons are the NCAA teams that represent the University of San Francisco. The teams compete in the NCAA Division I of the NCAA. The sports in which the teams participate include basketball, baseball, tennis, soccer, track and field, golf, and cross country.

The Dons are famed for producing outstanding talents that have made their mark in their respective professional careers.

Famous Food In San Francisco


This is a signature dish that originated in the Italian-American community in San Francisco. The dish is a great combination of calamari, Dungeness crab, and mussels in a tomato broth.

It is one of San Francisco famous food and is served in almost every restaurant in the city, especially those by the seaside. The meal is often served in huge portions and it goes pretty well with bread.

Sourdough Bread 

Perhaps you have tasted clam chowder, the tongue-licking soup that originated from the East Coast. Well, in San Francisco they found a way to make the experience of this better by introducing sourdough bread.

So, whenever you are in the city, prepare to get a serving of clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Unique, photogenic, tasty, and saves on bowls, what more can you ask for?

Mission Burrito

Mission Burrito is a popular variety of burrito invented in San Francisco. It originated from a Central American neighborhood in Mission District, for which it was named. What makes the difference in this tasty-looking burrito is the extra rice and the inclusion of guacamole, salsa, and sour cream.

>Check Secret Food Tours In San Francisco

Famous People From San Francisco

Clint Eastwood

Actor and film director, Clint Eastwood is one of San Francisco famous people.

The famed thespian started professional acting in the 50s, playing various minor roles before landing his first big role in The First Traveling Saleslady in 1956. His first major film success was 1992’s Unforgiven.

Regarded as a cultural icon for masculinity, Eastwood has won multiple notable awards. These include 8 Golden Globes, 13 Academy Awards, and 1 BAFTA award. These incredible achievements make him one of the most successful film stars San Francisco is famous for.

Beyond acting and directing, Eastwood served as the mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

Tom Brady

Born in the small town of Concord, Tom Brady is one of the most successful and respected football quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. He helped the New England Patriots to nine Super Bowls, winning six of them.

Brady’s success as a quarterback is credited to his discipline, commitment, and intelligence. He is regarded as the greatest quarterback in history – a recognition that makes him one of the most well-known sports stars in the 21st century.

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee is one of the greatest martial artists and actors, despite having a relatively short career due to his death. He was born in San Francisco and thanks to his father, Lee soon became a child actor in the Hong Kong film industry.

He is known for his role in Fist of Fury, along with four other feature-length films he starred in during his lifetime. Besides acting, Lee also owned a martial art academy. He taught some famous actors and martial artists such as the legendary Chuck Norris.

Bruce Lee is recognized for promoting Hong Kong action cinema and expanding the roles of Asians in American films.

Tom Hanks  

Any list of famous San Francisco people is incomplete if Tom Hanks is not mentioned.

This cultural icon is one of the most famous faces to ever grace the TV screen. Tom Hanks was an outstanding comedy actor before he began serious acting. He dominated the drama genre and piloted gems like Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Cast Away, and so much more,

Hanks was born in Concord, San Francisco, and has spent most of his life in California. For his success in the film industry, he has earned numerous honors, awards, and nominations.

Steve Jobs

One of the most famous tech innovators San Francisco is known for producing is the co-founder of Apple. Perhaps you are reading this from an iPhone or Mac – know that Steve Jobs birthed the idea for those sleek products.

Born in San Francisco, Steve Jobs is one of the founding entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley. He is famed for his obsession with product design and developing the perfect user experience.

Under his leadership, Apple gained a reputation for developing innovative technology products boasting unique features and fantastic user interfaces.

Discovering More Things San Francisco Is Known For

These are just some of the many things that San Francisco is famous for. However, it barely scratched the surface of what this incredible city offers. If you want to discover more about what makes San Francisco unique, there is no better way than taking a trip to explore the city’s buzzing neighborhoods.

Fill up on delicious food and experience the diverse culture, as you uncover more things that San Francisco is known for.



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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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