There is a reason why every year thousands and thousands of people from all over the world flock to San Francisco. Even though the weather here is not as nice as in other parts of sunny California, people still love it. San Francisco is probably one of the most open-minded and liberal cities in the world. With districts for every taste, latin, hippie, gay, posh, bohemian, touristy, one can spend hours just walking around, admiring the cultural and ethnical diversity. Add that to a magnificent landmark of a bridge, a few parks, great shopping and dining, a buzzing financial district and a vibrant night life and you’ve got yourself a new dream destination.
What most tourists are after when traveling to San Francisco is a picture of them in front of the world’s most popular bridge: the Golden Gate Bridge. And they’re right, it’s worth it. The views from the lookout-points at both ends of the bridge are absolutely gorgeous, especially from the Northern side, when heading towards Sausalito. Its much longer sister, the Oakland Bay Bridge is even more impressive, but has never reached quite the same fame. Another very peculiar tourist attraction is Filbert Street on Russian Hill, the steepest street in the city, with a grade of over 30%! Another one of San Francisco’s icons are its cable cars. Hop aboard and ride in the Historic Streetcar (line F) back towards the downtown area, it’s a fun ride! For a great view, climb the Filbert and Greenwich Steps all the way to Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill. From here you can see Alcatraz, not far from the shore. To visit the island and the old prison building, or take a stroll on nearby Angel Island, you can take a ferry from Fisherman’s Wharf, which is also another favourite tourist spot. Don’t miss walking up Lombard Street, one of America’s most crookedest streets.
For lovers of fine arts, San Francisco has more than enough galleries and museums. The most prominent ones are the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA), the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum. Also worth seeing are the Saints Peter and Paul Church on Filbert Street, as well as the Mission Dolores Church, where the city originated in 1776. Along Steiner Street, you can marvel at the famous Painted Ladies, a row of beautiful Victorian houses.
For shopping, head to Union Square, where you can find big department stores, malls and many others shops. Crocker Galleria and the Embarcadero Center are two other favorites for shopaholics. For partying, the area around Folsom Street and 11th Street are highly recommendable, as are the districts of SoMa with its many attractive bars, and Mission, which is considered one of the ‘in’ districts. North Beach is known for its rather bohemian scene, whereas Haight-Ashbury with is Victorian-style architecture is more of a hippie hangout.
A trip to San Francisco isn’t just about visiting and enjoying the city. There are also many wonderful places for walking and relaxing, like SF’s many parks, such as the Presidio, or the Golden Gate Park with its beautiful Japanese Garden and lakes. Jog or bike along the San Francisco bay area, or go to one of the beaches, such as Ocean Beach along the sunset district, to work on your tan. There are also quite a few interesting destinations for day trips, such as the California Wine Country or the Yosemite National Park. In one day, you could also do the 49-mile-drive which will lead you past most of San Francisco’s interesting sights.
San Francisco is known for its rather unique climate. In summer, during high season, it is often quite foggy, and the weather tends to change a lot, even during one day and within the city. The best time to visit is from September to November. Winters tend to be rather mild, but keep in mind, that they are quite wet.
© Salsa-Trips, Rico Jochen Anderer