The origin of the phrase “San Francisco Treat” may have been rice mixes, but rest assured there’s nothing dry and boring about “The City by the Bay.” You’re in for a reward when you visit this West Coast American metropolis, which is filled with sourdough bread, Mission-style burritos, and a unique culture influenced by everything from the hippie movement to its famous Chinatown (the oldest and largest in the US). Let your freak flag fly with San Francisco accommodation that suits everyone from suave execs to bohemian rhapsodists.
Things to Do in San Francisco
San Francisco holidays are an excellent mix of touristy landmarks and unique experiences for those who know where to look. If you miss the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll simply never get over it, so make your first stop Fort Point for that profile-perfect photo op. If you don’t mind a short drive and a little exercise, head to Battery Spencer on the Marin County side of the Bay—the hike and the views will both take your breath away.
Accommodation in Fisherman’s Wharf will get any traveller’s “seal” of approval thanks to the friendly pinnipeds at the end of Pier 39. Wave a flipper in greeting, then unleash the kraken (or just your imagination) at Aquarium of the Bay, where you can see sharks and giant octopuses. All that fresh sea air making you hungry? Scoff down the freshest seafood in the city—and the world, if you ask the locals—at any of the local restaurants.
Getting To & Around San Francisco
Flights to San Francisco arrive at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), south of the city. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) plus the Caltrain system make it easy to get to San Francisco hotels. If BART doesn’t run to your destination, you’ll need to learn one more word: Muni. The bus and light rail system can get you anywhere you need to go, and, besides, the historic cable cars are just plain fun. However, if you’re not into walking the ups and downs of “Shaky Town,” one of our car hires will get you over the hills and on to adventure. Parking can be tricky, but if you’re headed beyond city limits, hiring a car is your gateway to fun. “Wine” down with a day trip 80 km north to Sonoma to sample the country’s most storied grapevines.
Best Time to Travel
Thanks to its oceanfront location and numerous hills and valleys, San Francisco weather is a bit of a paradox. Summers can be chilly, and the fog is famous! Autumn brings warmer temps and refreshing breezes, making it an especially popular time to visit. But your trip will really be “on fleet” if you go in early October for Fleet Week, a naval celebration including a Parade of Ships and an air show. Winters are temperate and warm but can be a little rainy. Don’t worry, though; the hotels in San Francisco will keep you warm!
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The city's story
However, delve into San Francisco's history and you'll find that, unlike the movies, the city has a real story to tell. San Francisco's population exploded with the Gold Rush of the 1840s, making it the largest city on the West Coast during that era. Banks, merchants (including the now famous Ghriadelli chocolatier), and the arrival of the first transcontinental railroad, brought enough wealth to build churches, theaters, and the first cable cars. San Francisco flourished, becoming a beacon of culture and lavishness in the otherwise underdeveloped American West. Prosperity during this period led to the construction of the city's countless Victorian-style homes and buildings, which have become a contemporary attraction among tourists and locals alike.
San Francisco has often been referred to as a hub of liberal thinking and mixing of cultures; it's well known as the site of the Summer of Love and an early leader in the United States' gay rights movement. Almost 40 per cent of the city's population was born overseas, creating a diverse mixture of people and neighborhoods, including one of the largest Chinatowns in America, Little Italy, and the Latin America-flavored Mission District. The city saw an influx of writers and artists in the 1950s, hippies in the 1960s, and another financial boom in the 1990s with the advent of the Internet - all of which have made San Francisco a wealthy city with a high standard of living and a robust entertainment and arts scene.
Something for everyone
San Francisco is home to many iconic sites, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the Coit Tower. Try a cruise for a great tour of the harbor or get a city pass to visit all the famous sights.
Numerous, undulating hills crisscrossed by cable cars are also characteristic of the city. A tight collection of distinct neighborhoods, San Francisco is easy to explore on foot (with a little help from the cable cars or a double-decker bus for the steeper hills). Find department-store shopping and entertainment in Union Square and the Financial District; souvenirs and tourists at Fisherman's Wharf; luxurious hotels and views on Nob/Russian Hill; and remnants of hippy bohemia in the Haight.
As the United States' second most densely populated (and highly visited) city, San Francisco offers new sights and treasures around every corner and something for almost every type of traveller. Hide