Known for decades as “ev­ery­one’s fa­vorite city”

Travel Guide to California - - SAN FRANCISCO - BY LAURA DEL ROSSO

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 sf­

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.

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