San Francisco offers one of the most culturally diverse vacations in the world for sophisticated travelers who want to experience a quirky, vibrant and aesthetically pleasing city. Business travelers can combine meetings or conferences with the extraordinary pleasure of relaxing in this charming seaside location. The City by the Bay features historic sites from California's Gold Rush days, stories and attitudes fostered when San Francisco served as the West Coast's major port, and distinctive Art Deco skyscrapers. There are lots of independent high-end boutiques, book stores, antique shops, galleries, free-trade coffee houses and one of the world's most diverse and upscale culinary scenes.
You could spend weeks in San Francisco and barely sample the available attractions. The top attractions include:
One of the most photographed structures on Earth, the Golden Gate Bridge impresses travelers with its majestic beauty, staggering engineering, pedestrian walkway and bike traffic. Vehicles cross to and from Marin County at the rate of 120,000 per day. Gateway to California's wine country, the Golden Gate Bridge spans 1.7 miles.
San Francisco's Chinese community is the oldest on the continent and the largest in the world outside of Asia. Visitors enjoy authentic Chinese restaurants, markets and the crowded, bustling streets where mahjong players compete. There are Cantonese conversations, street performers, local pageantry and pagoda-tiled roofs.
Cable cars have been a symbol of the area since the 19th century, and the two remaining active routes are the world's last manually-operated systems. Cable car rides offer stunning views of San Francisco's steep hills, Fisherman's Wharf, Union Square, Telegraph Hill and North Beach.
Ride a cable car to Fisherman's Wharf, where you'll find specialty seafood restaurants, hotels, attractions, fishing piers, fresh seafood and produce in open-air markets, shopping, bay cruises and astonishing views.
The world's most crooked street attracts visitors from all over the world, and its hairpin turns are designed to prevent uncontrolled descents on the street's steep gradient. The Russian Hill landmark thoroughfare passes some of the city's most stately mansions and features riotous colors from blossoming flowers in the spring and summer.
Famous in the 1960s as the center of the “Summer of Love,” the Haight-Ashbury district still attracts modern-day hippies and rock performers. The Bohemian ambiance now includes bars, vintage clothing stores, restaurants and boutiques as well as the book, record and alternative shops that made the area a beacon for the tie-dyed, flower-powered culture of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
San Francisco hotels include luxury five-star hotels with every amenity, boutique properties, budget-friendly Victorian bed and breakfast accommodations, and small European-style hotels. Find a room with a view of The Golden Gate Bridge, Telegraph Hill, Alcatraz Island or the North Beach Area. Although small geographically, San Francisco offers some of the most diverse and distinct neighborhoods that visitors would expect to find only in larger cities.
Temperatures in San Francisco range from the low 50s to the high 70s year-round, but the wind can make it seem colder. Visitors seeking summer sun and beach activities might be disappointed, but the surfing is good at Land's End. Mark Twain once said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Although an exaggeration, the quote underlies the truth about the area, which can be foggy, cold and windy during the summer months. September and October are the most favorable months to visit the city, and early spring is also nice. Despite the cooler temperatures and windy conditions, people visit year-round for the remarkable attractions, restaurants and old fashioned charm of the San Francisco Bay Area.