Last updated: 10:08 AM ET, Tue October 19 2021
San Francisco cityscape with the Painted Ladies as seen from Alamo square park. (photo via Guner_Gulyesil / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

San Francisco

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San Francisco skyline and Bay Bridge at sunset, California (photo via dell640 / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
San Francisco skyline and Bay Bridge at sunset, California (photo via dell640 / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

At the very source of San Francisco’s charm is a bevy of eccentric neighborhoods and people so diverse that everyone fits in. As the gem of the Bay Area, San Francisco, California, is well known for its Victorian architecture, hilly terrain, fusion cuisine and rich cultural dynamism. A veritable United Nations of people, sights, and experiences to be had; the city will leave its quirky appeal lingering in your memories long after you’ve left.

This seven-by-seven mile peninsula is made up of eleven official neighborhoods that each offers something unique. Fisherman’s Wharf is a popular area on the bay that boasts a plethora of fresh seafood restaurants, attracting not only hungry tourists, but corpulent, lazy sea lions who like to sunbathe on the pier. Hang out in Haight: a once-bohemian area that is known as the birthplace of the hippie movement and which still has eclectic boutiques and small Dead Head coffee shops. Whether stopping for dim sum in Chinatown, shopping in Union Square, taking a cable car ride throughout ritzy Knob Hill or letting it all hang out in the Castro, San Fran remains a wonderfully inexplicable microcosm of the world.

Consistently voted one of the best cities in the United States, San Francisco is the perfect place to indulge in the rich essence of a west coast boomtown. With passes like the CityPass, Go San Francisco Card and the Wharf Pass, visitors gain admission (at a lower cost) to some of the city’s finest museums, like the Museum of Modern Art, California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum, as well as ferry rides, tours and transportation. While landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, Transamerica Pyramid and infamous Alcatraz Island never fail as tourist magnets, it’s attractions like Ghirardelli Square, the authentic eateries of Chinatown, cable cars of Union Square and Pier 39 that keep them coming back.

Classic view of historic traditional Cable Cars riding on famous California Street in beautiful early morning light at sunrise in summer, San Francisco, California, USA (photo via bluejayphoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Historic traditional cable cars riding through San Francisco, California. (photo via bluejayphoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

An epicurean city in every sense of the word; San Fran boils over with new and inventive cuisine, from sustainable and organic to intricate fusion and wine-plate pairings. With trendy restaurants like Greens and Millenium, not only will vegetarians never go hungry in this town; they’ll eat really well. With a seemingly unlimited surplus of great seafood restaurants, visitors need only to walk into the likes of Sotto Mare, Swan Oyster Depot or Hyde Street Seafood House and have their pick of some of the freshest selections in the Pacific Northwest. As the nation’s largest Chinatown, it becomes an absolute treat to (yet a daunting task) to pick from the bevy of authentic rice houses and tea rooms. House of Nanking, Lichee Garden and Brandy Ho’s Hunan Food are all touted as some of the very best in the city.

Located 14 miles south of the city, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is the region’s major domestic and international gateway. The airport is connected to the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), which transports passengers throughout the San Francisco and the neighboring communities. The other forms of public transit are the San Francisco Municipal Railway, which has street and cable cars, buses and metro, as well as the Caltrain which is a regional rail to San Jose. Besides walking, there is no better way to see the city than on the world-famous cable cars, which run north-south between Market Street and Fisherman’s Wharf.

San Francisco has a mild Mediterranean climate which is heavily influenced by the cool Pacific currents and gives the city year-round mild temperatures. May through October is considered the dry period and is relatively warm, with average temperatures in the low 70° F (21° C). The rainy season tends to last from November to April, when temperatures get a bit cooler and remain around 58-64° F (14-18° C). There is no best time to visit the city, as the weather remains consistently mild and whether it be an attraction or festival or cultural event; there’s always something going on in San Francisco.