This walking tour begins near downtown’s center and reaches the Embarcadero Center at the very east end of San Francisco.
Anyone of the two cable car lines crossing Powell Street leads to the Cable Car Museum on the Washington and Mason corner. The museum allows a close look at the mechanism and history of this unique and anachronistic feature of San Francisco. The entrance is free and the museum opens every day from 10am to 5pm.
Climbing up through Mason Street until California Street, Nob Hill is reached. This is the neighbour where people that got rich constructing the transcontinental railway and on the Nevada silver mines chose to build their humble homes. The most prestigious hotels in town – the Fairmont, the Mark Hopkins, the Stanford and the Huntington – are all here. Huntington Square – near the Fairmont – hosts two attractions: the exclusive Pacific Union Club at the Flood Mansion and across the square from it, the Episcopalian Grace Cathedral, which resembles the Notre Dame in Paris and was constructed in 1928.
Walking down through Mason Street to Market Street – the main avenue dividing the city – is an easy affair that leads after crossing the last to the SoMa, the South of Market district. Its main attractions are nearby; advancing eastwards until the 4th Street and then turning right and walking until Mission Street, a big cultural center is reached. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art ($12.50, closed on We), the Yerba Buena Gardens and Center for the Arts ($6, closed Mo), the Moscone Convention Center, the Metreon Center with its many restaurants, shops and cinemas and other institutions share this ultramodern area. South of the Center for the Arts is a statue of Martin Luther King Jr.
Back to Market Street, the city’s – and West Coast as well – Financial District can be appreciated while walking eastwards to the Ferry Building. The last is the big structure at the street’s end and it hosts nowadays a big Farmers’ Market. Despite its name it has several trendy restaurants from where it is possible to enjoy a well-earned lunch while watching the bay.
This area was known as the Barbary Coast and dates back to the Gold Rush, when gold was discovered in the state during the 1840s. The influx of fortune seekers created the foundations to what became a big area of warehouses, offices and saloons. In front of the Ferry Building is the huge Embarcadero Center – between the Hyatt Regency Hotel and the Park Hyatt Hotel.
Occupying eight blocks, it includes everything from galleries and more than seventy shops to cinemas and is the perfect place to relax after a long and pleasant walk through the city. Its five towers were built between 1968 and 1983 and are one of the main commercial centers in San Francisco. It includes fashion shops for all tastes, shoes, luggage and leather goods, jewelry, optics, and houseware shops. Health stores, booksellers, art exhibitions and gourmet food shops complete the list. Worth a visit after a day walking around is the Godiva Chocolatier (at 2 EC – Street) that offers maybe the best chocolates in the world. Entertainment is available mainly in the form of the Embarcadero Center Cinema (at 1 EC, on the corner of Battery and Clay Streets) and may provide the perfect end for a busy day.