San Francisco is all the clich tourist icons that we know: The Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Alcatraz and the Cable Cars.
If youre just here for a few days, here for the first time and just want to get those checked off your list nothing wrong with just visiting the tourist spots.
But of course, San Francisco is much more on many levels. And also keep in mind, San Francisco itself is fairly small geographically not to mention that excluding the residential areas the key spots to see and visit are really all within about a 50-block radius. In fact, with good planning, you can pretty much see everything on the tourist list in a day.
Note that a lot of the charm of San Francisco also really means the San Francisco Bay Area which logistically and mind-set-wise extends as far south as Monterey/ Carmel and west-north to the Wine Country.
So, while SF is a microcosm of the SF Bay Area, if time does not permit you to venture much outside of SF, then you will be missing out on quite a bit. BTW, for residents of the areas, SF is simply referred to as the city. Even though there are lots of other metropolitan areas (San Jose, Oakland) SF by it being first gets the moniker the city.
San Francisco (and thus the SF Bay Area) is a place for romantics and those who enjoy solitude and reflection. It is a foodies paradise. If you have the time, we have some of the worlds great food here. If you want world-class shopping you just wont be able to stop. If you love nature and the outdoors – the weather is nearly perfect year-round – the ocean and mountains are everywhere you look. If you want to feel the pulse of diversity and tranquility, you dont have far to go. If you want to feel the pulse of technology and entrepreneurship we have that also. Most cities in the US try to sell you the idea that they have it all. Frankly, most are stretching the truth. But after you spend 3-4 days in the SF Bay Area, after a month, youll see just how much youre havent seen yet.