Great Cities to Explore with Students (Series #2) – San Francisco

Without a doubt, San Francisco is one of the world’s most beautiful and interesting cities. Attractions, food, and student activities flourish in an atmosphere rich in abundant cultures and traditions.

Among the most desired cities for student travelers to explore, it’s not difficult to fill your itinerary with interesting and educational pursuits. Discover what each of the city’s unique neighborhoods and districts offer.

Fisherman’s Wharf – just the name is so renowned that you don’t even need to identify the city. Souvenir shops, delicious chowder served in sourdough bowls, harbor cruises, and don’t forget sea lions – all enjoyed as part of this wonderful waterfront attraction.

  • Pier 39 features include dining, entertainment, shopping, plus a picture-postcard backdrop of the skyline. Bubba Gump’s, Hard Rock Café, and more group-friendly restaurants are located here.
  • Alcatraz started out as the first lighthouse on the Pacific Coast. It became a federal prison for the infamous and notorious in 1934. Self-guided tours available. Night-time tours book quickly. Operated by the National Park Service, Forum Festivals is a valued partner tour operator.

Chinatown – San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest and one of the largest in the United States. The 24 blocks of this incredibly culturally-rich district is best explored on foot. “Dragon’s Gate,” the entrance to Chinatown, sits at Grant Avenue and Bush Street. Unique shopping, a Fortune Cookie Factory (tours available) plus incredible cuisine awaits the traveler. Talk to us about booking an authentic Chinese meal in a group-friendly restaurant in this don’t-miss neighborhood.

North Beach – Just as Chinatown is a city within a city, so is North Beach. San Francisco’s beloved Little Italy features delicious Italian cuisine, gelato, pizza (that’s Italian, right?).

  • Nearby Coit Tower offers stunning 360 views of the City and a chance to see the restored murals painted by a group of 26 Depression-era muralists The artists were hired by the Public Works of Art Project (pre-cursor to WPA) to represent the San Francisco life of that day.

The Golden Gate Park – Miles of beautiful green lawns, thousands of flowers, and many great experiences await. Included in this 1,017 acre park are museums, gardens, windmills, and, yes, buffalo.

  • The de Young Museum features an amazing permanent collection of American art, plus exhibits of modern art, textiles, photography as well as a ninth-floor Observation Level with breath-taking City and Ocean views.
  • California Academy of Sciences include an aquarium, a planetarium, and natural history museum under one roof. A 4-story living rainforest and fascinating planetarium shows make this a popular destination for student travelers. Tours available.
  • The Park includes many other experiences and attractions including:
    • Spreckels Lake or Stow Lake
    • Dutch and Murphy Windmills (February or March is tulip time)
    • Buffalo Paddock (Yep – real buffalo live here)
    • the National AIDS Memorial Grove
    • San Francisco Botanical Garden, the Japanese Tea Garden, and the Conservatory of Flowers
    • Music Concourse – Located in the center of the museum area, there are free performances on Sundays from April through October.

Music! Music! Music! – No question that San Francisco and surroundings offer music students opportunities to enjoy and perform!

  • San Francisco Symphony – With a distinguished standard of excellence, the San Francisco Symphony offers an impressive array of prestigious conductors and artists, including current music director, Michael Tilson Thomas. Committed to music education, the Symphony offers family-friendly concerts and welcomes student groups throughout their season.
  • SF Jazz Center offers school day concerts with curriculum to connect students to jazz. Classes, performance opportunities, and more reinforce their commitment to jazz education.
  • San Francisco Conservatory of Music – Just a 3-minute walk from Davies Hall, the SFCM offers a full calendar of musical events and pre-arranged campus tours.
  • Singing in San Francisco – The City is full of so many options for choirs and singers. Check many of them out at

Other Points of Interest:

  • Golden Gate Bridge – Can a trip to San Francisco be complete without seeing the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge? Built in 1937, it was considered the “bridge that couldn’t be built.” Famously rising through the legendary San Francisco Fog, the best way for a group to experience the bridge is on a bus. Parking is very limited, but there’s a welcome center, outdoor exhibits, free walking tours twice-weekly (Thursdays and Sundays).
  • Grace Cathedral – Located in historic Nob Hill, Grace Cathedral is renowned for works by Jan Henryk De Rosen, as well as two labyrinths, stained glass windows, and the historic Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys. (Their 10:15 AM Sunday rehearsals are open to visitors). Student choirs are welcomed in a “Singing for Pleasure” program – contact us for guidelines.
  • The Embarcadero/Financial District –The Ferry Building houses a public area with a food hall, restaurants, and a farmer’s market. Just a few steps down at Pier 15 is the Exploratorium, an interactive museum with hands-on educational exhibits. A perfect outing on San Francisco’s cold, rainy days, activities abound for all age groups.

Options for student travel in San Francisco are endless! Talk to us about what interests your group and works within your budget. We’ve got the ins and outs of getting around the city plus the performance options that are available. We are hosting Forum Festivals around the city on nine spring dates in 2018. Don’t miss the chance to introduce your students to an amazing and beautiful city!

Read Great Cities to Explore with Students (Series #1) – Los Angeles.

Read Great Cities to Explore with Students (Series #3) – Outside and Beyond San Francisco Bay Area.

Read Great Cities to Explore with Students (Series #4) – San Diego.