A jumbled collage of colorful neighborhoods and beautiful views, San Francisco draws those free-spirited types who have an eye for edgy art, a taste for imaginative cuisine and a zeal for adventure. It’s really not surprising that songwriter Tony Bennett left his heart here: The city boasts jaw-dropping sights, world-class cuisine, cozy cafes and plenty of booming nightlife venues — there’s no shortage of ways to stay busy here. Spend an hour or two sunning yourself alongside sea lions on the bay, admiring the views of the city from Twin Peaks, or strolling along the Marina. And for the quintessential San Franciscan experience, enjoy a ride on a cable car.
Often described as Los Angeles’ more refined northern cousin, cool and compact San Francisco takes the big-city buzz exuded by its southern counterpart and melds it with a sense of small-town charm. Here, you’ll discover a mish-mash of culture flourishing throughout San Francisco’s many vibrant quarters. Follow the crowds to the touristyFisherman’s Wharf area (which offers spectacular views of Alcatraz) before heading along the bay to the Presidio for a glimpse of the famous Golden Gate Bridge. But don’t forget to save time for the Mission district, The Haight and The Castro for exposure to all of the different varieties of the San Francisco lifestyle.
How To Save Money in San Francisco
- Forget about summerHotels welcome a large number of hopeful sun-seekers during the summer, causing room rates to rise rather dramatically. You’ll find plenty of deals if you book during the cooler months.
- Reconsider that big-name hotelHotel chains in major areas like downtown, SoMa and Fisherman’s Wharf are just waiting to take your money. You’ll find much better rates at smaller bed-and-breakfasts and independent hotels in Nob Hill and the Marina District.
- Buy a CityPASS For $94, you can get unlimited rides on all city transportation as well as entry to some of the top things to do. While it may seem pricey at first, the San Francisco CityPASS is a great deal if you plan on being here for more than a couple of days.
San Francisco Culture & Customs
San Francisco is one of the most progressive cities in the United States, with historical ties to the hippie and gay rights movements. The city is also among the most diverse in the United States, with distinct Hispanic, Chinese and European traditions represented in a host of arts and music festivals, as well as an oftentimes grandiose display of architecture.
To match its love for progressiveness and diversity, San Francisco also prides itself on its environmental sustainability efforts. Composting is mandatory for all city residents, and the Bay Area remains host to an abundant amount of nonprofit environmental organizations.
San Franciscans also love the outdoors, and the city’s lush parks (including Golden Gate Park) and proximity to excellent natural wonders (including Yosemite National Park) make it one of the most enviable cities for adventure travelers.
San Francisco Dining
San Francisco’s culinary scene stands as one of the most diverse and ambitious in the United States. Having lured world-renowned chefs like Michael Mina and Tyler Florence, San Francisco boasts restaurants serving top-tier dishes infused with rich flavors and organic ingredients. But there are two drawbacks: Most establishments close around 10 p.m., and more popular restaurants require reservations six to eight weeks in advance.
Regional specialties seen on many a menu in San Francisco include bay shrimp, local sourdough bread, Dungeness crab and “Hangtown Fry,” a mix of scrambled eggs, oysters and bacon made famous during the Gold Rush. You’ll also find a handful of food trucks and street food vendors serving up delectable eats in neighborhoods like SoMa, theMission District, downtown and the Financial District.