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What to Do in San Francisco With Student Travelers

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Considering a student tour to San Francisco? This California city has so much to teach young people. With a uniquely American history and an ever-innovative culture, the City by Bay is filled with attractions that will leave students of every subject inspired. Here are some of our favorites. 


North America’s largest and oldest Chinatown was established in 1848, and it continues to hold on to its cultural traditions today. Students will be transported across the Pacific Ocean as they explore authentic Chinese architecture and shops. They’ll also discover the restaurants where Westernized Chinese dishes such as Dim Sum and Chop Suey were born.

Golden Gate Park

Founded back in 1870, this 1,017-acre park is filled with beautifully landscaped gardens, lakes, museums, natural areas and more. From a bison paddock to a historic Japanese tea garden, you’ll be surprised what you can find.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Originally home to the Italian fishermen who came to San Francisco to take advantage of the population boom during the Gold Rush, Fisherman’s Wharf is now on of the city’s top tourist attraction. While wandering around this area, students will see plenty of seafood restaurants, museums and the famous seal lions of Pier 39.

Alcatraz Island

This island was the first US-built lighthouse and fort on the West Coast, but its most famous for serving as a maximum-security prison from 1934 to 1963. While students visit Alcatraz, they’ll learn stories about inmates such as Al Capone and “the Birdman of Alcatraz.” Students will also discover how a group of Native American activists occupied the island, protesting that it was Indian land. While their requests were not met, they were successful in starting a dialogue about Native American rights.

California Academy of the Sciences

Located within the Golden Gate Park, this natural history museum is one of the world’s largest. Within it, you’ll find an interactive aquarium, a planetarium, exhibits on evolution, and a rainforest with exotic wildlife. The California Academy of the Sciences encourages a hands-on approach, allowing students to handle creatures in their Discovery Tidepool and specimens in their Naturalist Center.

Coit Tower

This tower was paid for with money left by Lillie Coit, an early San Francisco socialite who was known for gambling and wearing trousers long before those activities were socially acceptable for women. Located in the historic North Coast neighborhood, the monument and its surrounding park offer panoramic views of the city and 27 different fresco murals.

Haight Ashbury

San Francisco is well known as the birthplace of the hippie subculture, and this neighborhood was the epicenter of it. Wandering down its streets, students will learn about “the Summer of Love,” when psychedelic bands like the Grateful Dead called this neighborhood home.