San Francisco is one of the most famous cities on the planet and an incredibly popular destination for travellers. It is also one of our favourite cities – the perfect blend of American, European and Asian cultures. Great shopping and plenty of cultural highlights makes this a must-visit for any trip to the USA.
Of course, San Francisco is also famous for its hills, which can present a challenge for those of us with different mobility needs. But there are a huge amount of accessible activities you can enjoy on your next visit. So, with that in mind, here we’ve picked out some of our favourite accessible places to visit across the city.
Soak up the sights and sounds of Chinatown
There is nowhere else outside of Asia with a Chinatown as old as San Francisco’s. This fascinating area has grown over the years as immigrants came to the city in search of work. In the early days, many workers came during the Gold Rush, as well as to work in construction and on the railroads.
Today it is a vibrant and exciting place to explore, and is of course home to the famous Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. They make over 10,000 a day here, and it’s the last place in the US where they’re still made by hand. Give the team there a call on (415) 781 3956 before you visit to discuss any particular requirements.
If you’re in need of refreshment, we also recommend you savour a cup of tea at the wonderful Vital Tea Leaf. It’s fully accessible and their Wuyi rock tea from Fujian is just incredible.
Explore Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate is an absolute dream of a park. It’s over a 1,000 acres and is packed full of things to do. If you’re looking for a bit of culture, then we recommend that you head to the de Young Museum of Fine Arts. It’s fully accessible for those of us who use a mobility scooter. And it is home to a remarkable collection of artistic treasures – from 20th century photography to the art of the indigenous peoples of South America.
But the Golden Gate park is also an area of great natural beauty too. There are hundreds of trails to explore (many of are accessible and will give you fantastic views of the bridge itself). If you want to head out into the wilds, we recommend you download the National Park Service’s Golden Gate app, or head to the NPS’s accessibility page here.
Take in some modern art
The de Young isn’t even the most famous art gallery in San Francisco – that title has to go to SF MoMA, the sister of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. With over 30,000 individual works of art here there is more than enough to keep you busy, and it is well worth setting aside a day to explore the museum.
As you would expect from a museum with SF MOMA’s international reputation, it is completely accessible to all, with ramped access at the main entrances. There is also an endlessly cycling series of new exhibitions to see.
The highlight for us however was one of the permanent installations – the artist JR’s digital mural The Chronicles of San Francisco. An unmissable tribute to the people of this remarkable city.
Browse the fresh produce at the Ferry Building
Whenever you go to a new city, our advice is to head for the market. In our experience it is the best way to get a flavour of the real culture of the place. You’ll see ordinary people, out and about doing their thing – and of course you’ll also get the chance to pick up some great local delicacies too.
San Francisco is no different. The Ferry Building Marketplace is the city’s favourite farmers’ market and is packed to the rafters with delicious local produce.
The market is accessible, and the best days to visit are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays when farmers descend on the market to sell their wares. It’s a great place to browse, and even do a little tasting on the go. Our favourite shop? The Biscuit Bender – try their wild mushroom buttermilk biscuits and never look at biscuits in quite the same way again!
Did you know?
The Golden Gate Bridge isn’t golden – it’s a colour called ‘International Orange’.
Getting to San Francisco
From the UK, there are regular non-stop flights from the London airports, and non-direct ones from Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow. It’s a long-haul of course, so make sure that you inform your airline of any particular mobility needs you have when you book.
Once you get to San Francisco itself, the airport is largely barrier-free with ramped access throughout. The team there recommend that you contact a representative of your airline when you arrive, or call 1-6207 from the specially-marked phones.
Getting into the city is also straightforward – the Bay Area Rapid Transport system is a quick, easy and accessible option to get to Downtown. You’ll need to take the AirTran from San Francisco airport to connect with BART, but it’s a journey of only a few minutes.