Known for decades as “everyone’s favorite city”
IN JUST 49 SQUARE MILES, San Francisco contains more scenic beauty, neighborhood diversity, good food and range of arts and culture than any U.S. city of its size. The landmark Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf are synonymous with the City by the Bay, also known for an atmosphere of tolerance that stretches back to the Gold Rush when one of the largest migrations in human history brought thousands west.
San Francisco is one of the great U.S. cities for food and dining, with renowned chefs, a wide variety of ethnic cuisine and restaurant-mad locals spending more on eating out than residents of any other American city. Culture is abundant, with world-class museums, theater, opera, symphony and ballet, helped by a public commitment that pre-dates the National Endowment for the Arts.
An influx of start-ups and young tech workers has led to a boom in restaurants, bars and nightlife, especially in the vibrant Mission district and South of Market. In 2017, the city is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love counterculture movement with exhibitions at museums, special events and concerts that look back at the transformative time. Among the offerings for tourists are walking tours of the Haight-ashbury district—currently proposed for city landmark status because of its historical significance—and a “Summer of Love” art exhibit at the de Young Museum mid April to mid August.
San Francisco firmly retained its place among the country’s great cultural centers with the 2016 reopening of the architecturally-striking San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The doubling of the downtown museum’s exhibit space made room for The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, considered one of the world’s finest collections of modern art.
On the western side of San Francisco, the Presidio continues its stunning transformation from Army base to a vast national park filled with historic sites, museums, artwork and miles of walking and biking trails in forests and along the bay. In 2015, the Presidio Parkway tunnels replaced a highway eyesore and, in 2017, acres of new landscaped areas, walking and biking trails and a visitor center above the parkway are scheduled to open.
Renovated vista points and other areas have recently made visiting the Golden Gate Bridge more enjoyable. The Round House, an Art Decostyle circular building, gives bridge visitors a place to stop for food and drinks before browsing the adjacent Bridge Pavilion that provides information and exhibits. Meanwhile, on the Bay Bridge, the permanent installation of 25,000 LED lights that “perform” in patterns created by light artist Leo Villareal continue to dazzle.
For trip planning, see sftravel.com.
CABLE CARS have been climbing San Francisco’s hills since 1873 and are always a fan favorite, above; looking down Lombard Street, the “crookedest street in the world,” on Russian Hill, below.