San Francisco Destination Guide
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Where beatnik bohemians neighbor tech-heads, and where hippie love-ins paved the way for revolutions, San Francisco is filled with cultural flair. With a creative core comes a laid-back way of life, pride in cityscape, and a culinary scene that has people lining up in the streets.
It’s no surprise, then, that so many have left their hearts in San Francisco – the "City by the Bay." A relaxed atmosphere is matched by a unique cityscape, with San Francisco's famously steep streets winding down to the bustling Bay Area. It's here you'll find some of San Francisco's most famous attractions, including the iconic cable cars. A ride on a traditional trolley car is nothing short of thrilling; hang on tight as you rattle along, stopping off to admire the hairpin turns and floral delights of Lombard Street.
The best views are found at...
- Coit Tower
- Top of the Mark Bar
- Twin Peaks
The city’s charm extends beyond its glorious bay, with steep streets laden with speakeasies, farmers markets, boutiques and lush green spaces to explore. That’s not to say the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street and Alcatraz aren’t worth your time; in fact, you’d be amiss to skip these icons.
The Golden Gate Bridge has come to symbolize San Francisco. When the sun radiates off its luminous red frame, it's not hard to see why this stunning waterfront city is considered one of the most picturesque in the world.
From Fisherman's Wharf to Lombard Street and the Painted Ladies of Alamo Square, the sights are as spectacular as they come in this fabulous West Coast city. Crossing the bridge is a definite must, just be prepared for the temperature drop! Even in the height of summer, mists can shroud this icon. For attractive green spaces, nothing rivals Golden Gate Park.
Enjoy the quintessential sights of...
- The Golden Gate Bridge
- Alcatraz Island
- Fisherman's Wharf
Eat and Drink »
San Francisco is an epicurean delight, with more restaurants per person than any other major North American city. Here you'll also find one of the USA's best selection of Asian food, and particularly several varieties of Chinese food, as San Fran has one of the largest Chinese communities in the West.
Hop between dive bars in the Haight-Ashbury, take your pick from an overwhelming number of restaurants in Chinatown, or find your inner peace at an organic cafe in the trendy Mission District.
Vegans and vegetarians are very well catered to as well. Some favorite San Francisco restaurants, for travelers and locals alike, are Delifina (for Italian food, in the Mission district) Swan Oyster Depot (for seafood, on Polk Street) and Bocadillos (for tapas in the Financial District). Where drinks are concerned, don't miss out on the cocktails at Incanto in Noe Valley.
Join the food truck revolution with...
- Seafood from Sam's Chowdermobile
- Doc's Of The Bay's classic comfort food
- A fusion fix from Me So Hungry
There's always something fine at the top end of town, and San Francisco isn't any exception. All the luxury brands are here, some perched atop the city's legendary hills. You do need good walking shoes here, but you don't have to be well-heeled to enjoy your stay – San Francisco accommodations cover all budgets.
Boutique hotels with twists on decor, architecture or ambience include Queen Anne, in Pacific Heights; Hotel Diva, in Union Square; and Hotel Vertigo on Sutter Street. If you've a more basic approach to lodgings because you don't plan to spend much time in them, try the Green Tortoise Hostel in the vibrant North Beach area.
Check out the neighborhood in...
- Chinatown – the oldest in North America
- Rejuvenated hipster haunt The Haight
- Distinct and diverse Western Addition
San Francisco shopping is as flavor-filled as the city itself. Pier 39 is a colorful collection of shops and restaurants popular with tourists. If you want more of a counter-culture flavor to your shopping, head to the Haight district for edgy fashion.
No book/poetry/literature/beat lover should go to San Francisco without stopping by City Lights in North Beach, while Union Square is the central hub for flagship luxury shops, art galleries, cafes, theaters and nightclubs. If you can't find what you need after exhausting Union Square, there's a Westfield on that neighborhood's fringe, on Market Street.
San Francisco like a Local
Locals know this city is a cooler version of its Californian counterparts, so they keep their winter clothes on hand year round. San Francisco weather can be fickle, so landing in summer with only shorts and LA-style visions won't serve you well.
Though hilly, San Francisco is a great walking and cycling city, and also has a comprehensive public transport system made up of subways, streetcars, buses, trolley buses, and cable cars. Ask a local on the ground which is which.
Only a local would know about...
- Seward Street Slides
- Magnolia Gastropub Pomegranate Cider
- AT&T Stadium garlic fries