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Getting Around San Francisco
San Francisco stands out from the crowd. While other parts of California rest on the laurels of blue skies and big trees, this vibrant city is something else. Often cloaked in the chilly sea mist that rolls in, this doesn't detract from the energy of the Instagrammable city. With its steep hills, rattling cable cars, blazing street art, beatnik bookstores, and incredible food culture, San Francisco still holds notes of its boomtown days but blends it with liberal laidback flair. San Francisco has a sprawling to-do list to meet every mood. History lovers can lean into Alcatraz, art aficionados will be floored by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, nature lovers can hike and see elephant seals at the Ano Nuevo State Reserve, and architecture admirers will fall hard for the Victorian Esque mansions known as the Painted Ladies. Alongside all of this, there's an eclectic LGBTQI+ scene and one of the biggest pride celebrations in the whole of the US.
Must See Neighborhoods
Easily set up for exploration, getting around San Francisco is a breeze. Of course, one of the most popular ways for tourists to get a taste of San Fran life is to take the cable cars rather than risk breaking a sweat and walking up those impossibly steep hills. As San Fran is consistently ranked as one of the most walkable cities, you can strap on your shoes and savour immersing yourself in each of the different neighbourhoods. Cycling is another popular pastime, with the Bay Area and the waterfront offering extensive cycle networks that lead you past a glut of glorious sites.
Things to Do
San Francisco is made up of many dazzling neighbourhoods creating mini-cities within a city. From the hippy enclave of Haight Ashbury to the highly photogenic Hayes Valley and Alamo Square and the gothic graces of Nob Hill, every corner has something charming to offer. Haight Ashbury is where you will find the most condensed counterculture scene with its vintage shops, bright architecture, dive bars, book and record stores, and hip eclectic eateries. Nob Hill on the other hand has a more upscale vibe with its gabled Victorian homes, boutiques, green parks, and elegant restaurants. North Beach is where you will also find a wealth of famed San Fran attractions including Coit Tower and Washington Square Park. Castro is the historic buzzing spot that captures the inclusive and diverse spirit of the city's LGBTQI+ scene.
One of the signature tourist attractions in San Fran, Fishermans Wharf is where you go to chow down clam chowder, snack on fresh crab claws, and soak up the atmosphere of the docks. Brimming with seafood restaurants and home to the kitsch arcade museum of Musee Mecanique, the aquarium, and the San Francisco dungeon - it's the perfect place to explore, dine, and learn about the city's naval history.
Also known as The Rock, Alcatraz is one of the most notorious prisons in the whole of the USA if not the world. Dating back to the 19th century, it was originally a jailhouse for those who deserted during the civil war. Visiting the famous rock is laced with tales of daring escapes and chilling history. There's also a night tour for those who want to up the thrill factor.
The Golden Gate Bridge
As iconic as they come - the Golden Gate Bridge has long been a poster child for the golden city. Walking over the bridge is almost a right of passage for those visiting and even though it does teem with cars and bikes, there's a pedestrian walkway that leads you across the 1.7 miles stretch.
Chinatown is an essential part of the San Francisco narrative. With its temples, pagodas, historic alleyways and traditional dim sum restaurants, it's a great place to stroll, shop, and stock up on your favourite Chinese delights. For a dose of history, be sure to visit the Chinese Historical Society of America and stroll around Waverly Place.
City Lights Books
Along with the hippy movement of Haight Ashbury, literary lovers will know this city for its beatnik style. City Lights Books was the epicentre of this in 1957 where the likes of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac would sprawl, read, speak, and publish some of their most famous works. Poets and listeners alike will be smitten by perusing the shelves, kicking back in the poet's chair, and catching all kinds of events here.