Charismatic and progressive, San Francisco is a compact city of hills surrounded on three sides by water.
Feel the cool, salty air crossing the Golden Gate Bridge or eat on a burrito in the Mission. Experience the unique mix of big-city buzz and laid-back joie de vivre.
Browse second-hand shops along Haight Street. Recite poetry in a North Beach coffeehouse. Walk along the beach, skate through Golden Gate Park, ride the cable cars, tour a Victorian mansion or explore Alcatraz Island... it’s all there, waiting.
Things to Do
The iconic Golden Gate Bridge offers spectacular views of the Bay and the city. The vast Golden Gate Park, an oasis of trees, flowers, lakes and trails, is home to the De Young Museum, showcasing a stunning collection of Pacific Islander art. Take the Powell-Hyde cable car to Nob Hill for a breathtaking view of the bay. A ferry to Alcatraz Island combines the experience of solitary confinement with spectacular city views. Or just people-watch at a sidewalk cafe on Columbus Avenue.
Begin by perusing mainstream clothing, jewellery and art from the department stores and designer boutiques around Union Square. Then spend a day browsing vintage clothing shops and funky, trendy places for shoes, art CDs, and DVDs in upper Haight Street, Valencia Street in the Mission and Hayes Street in Hayes Valley.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Sip a Martini while swinging to a jazz trio in North Beach, or catch an indie band at a Mission District club. The venues clustered around Union Square and the Civic Center showcase the city's theatre, opera and symphony. San Francisco bars provide their own entertainment.
Sample fine wines on Columbus Avenue or nurse a beer over a televised game on Powell Street. The streets that lie between Geary Boulevard and Nob Hill shelter dozens of bars, from trendy to eclectic.
Restaurants and Dining
San Francisco is famous for its seafood -- freshly steamed crabs at Fisherman's Wharf. But that's only a fraction of its culinary delights. You can find everything from Parisian bistros and Basque cafes in the narrow alleys around Union Square to Mexican bakeries on 24th Street.
The most popular places have a noisy, relaxed and communal feel. A thriving Latino community creates spicy salsas, grilled meats and fresh tortillas. The city's large Asian population means you can enjoy Chinese or Japanese one day and Thai, Korean or Vietnamese the next.