San Francisco's multi-cultural artistic flair and waterfront location, combined with world-class vineyards just a quick drive away make for ideal weekend trips. This laid back City by the Bay was home to tie-dye, a hotbed of progressive social change during the 60s revolution, and is the cosmopolitan, creative center of the West Coast today.
A family-friendly town. A hip, metropolis for trendy urbanites. A strong gay and lesbian community. San Francisco truly offers something for everyone.
Top sights, activities, and attractions:
- Golden Gate National Recreation Area
- Fisherman's Wharf
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
- Alcatraz Island
- Pacific Ocean beaches
- San Francisco Bay
- Chinatown (largest Chinatown outside of Asia)
- San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
- Trolleys and cable cars
- Ghirardelli Square (and Ghirardelli chocolate)
- Pier 39
- Aquarium of the Bay
San Francisco has a history of producing and drawing bands to entertain all sorts of crowds. From the Dead Heads of the 60s generation to the modern mosh of musical sounds, there are clubs, bands, and famous groups galore.
Museums, galleries, theater, dance companies, performances, cabarets, and events. SFMOMA is a world-class modern art museum with paintings (Henri Matisse), photography (Ansel Adams), and more. Plus, don't miss the art galleries in Sausalito and around San Fran.
From mall-famous iconic shops like the Gap, Anne Taylor, and Tommy Hilfiger to quaint boutiques with hand-crafted scarves, shirts, pottery, jewelry, and more, San Francisco offers a trendy shopping experience for all ages and tastes.
In & Out Burgers are nearly as famous as their t-shirts. You simply must find one and indulge. Vegetarians abound in this health-conscious city so you can not only splurge on a milkshake instead of a burger at In & Out Burgers, but you'll have a wide selection of restaurants with fabulous international cuisine. From fresh seafood restaurants to Chinatown's dim sum to Mexican food with guacamole to make you cry like a baby, San Francisco dishes up delectable bites.
And the drinks are a gastronomic wonder, too. Not only does San Francisco neighbor Napa Valley, a world-renowned wine-growing region, but the city has enough clubs, bars, and hip establishments to make metro-philes swoon (without spilling a drop, of course).
Stinson Beach for road trippers, the beach by Golden Gate Park for families who want quick access to the city but also a long stretch of sand for sandcastles, the Presidio's San Francisco Bay beach for photo ops of Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and beyond. Or how about Baker Beach for nudists?
Districts and Day Trips
- The Mission District – Think eclectic eateries, happening nightlife, and a Hispanic history with a heart. The Mission could possibly be San Francisco's trendiest hang-out.
- Haight Ashbury – Home of the Grateful Dead, tie-dyed shops, and an area made famous by the 60s, this area still has classic townhouses, funky shops, and is near Golden Gate Park. It's a sidewalk collection like a virtual shrine unto the hippie movement. Eat one of it's famous burritos and wander through the past and into the new shops that typify the revitalization of this neighborhood.
- Muir Woods National Monument – Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (one of the largest urban national parks in the world), this woodsy wonder is a hiking area just north of San Francisco and named for the famous naturalist John Muir. Pay a visit to this quiet reprieve and look up at old growth redwood trees.
- Napa Valley – Nestled in Napa Valley with honey-colored hills akin to Tuscany, California's wine country is famous for its grape nectar. Take a road trip from the city to Napa for wine-tasting, hot air ballooning, bicycling, spa-going, and more.
- Sausalito and Tiburon – Two of the Bay Area's most quaint towns are just 20 miles north of the city across the bay. Best way to get there is via ferry on Pier 41 near Fisherman’s Wharf. Art galleries, novelty shops, boutique clothing stores, restaurants are all easily walkable and the views of San Francisco from these waterfront towns are spectacular. Bring your camera and stay for lunch. Sausalito resembles a Mediterranean seaside village and Tiburon is akin to a New England coastal town. Great for families.
- North Beach neighborhood – Walk through Little Italy and taste a cappuccino and pastry from the old country. Plenty of shops and attractions to keep you occupied in this former Beatnik hub.
- Berkeley – Home to University of California Berkeley, this town across the bay from San Fran is full of shops and is an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.
- Pebble Beach Golf Course and 17-mile Drive at Pebble Beach – Pebble Beach is world-famous for its golf course, luxury spa, and winding drive with several breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. If you are a golfer, plan ahead and book a round of golf at this famous course well in advance.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium – One of the world's largest aquariums, this marine sanctuary is perfect for the kids or the kid in you. Plan to spend the night in this town that was the setting for John Steinbeck’s books Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday.
- Carmel – With quaint tree-lined streets of boutique shops, cafes, and art galleries, this town is near Pebble Beach and Monterey and great for road trips from San Fran.
- Sonoma, St. Helena, Calistoga - Art galleries, wineries, spas. In that order. Sonoma has art galleries, quaint shops, good eats, and a community theater not to mention the plethora of wineries in Sonoma County. St. Helena is located between Calistoga and Napa and a quaint town with award-winnning restaurants and wineries nearby. Calistoga is a spa haven for those who crave a good massage.
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