If you’re walking down one of it’s winding roads, San Francisco smells like a curious blend of coffee and exhaust smoke. A trip to the infamous Pier 39 means there is clam chowder in the air, with the shouts of people and the shriek of seagulls at Fisherman’s Wharf. This is the diversity of San Francisco – it really is more than just a city sandwiched in between two famous bridges. While the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge are breathtaking, especially when covered in the dense fog that often swathes the city, they are by no means the city’s only attractions.
Founded by Spanish colonists in 1776, the city is today a melting pot of cultures and is as diverse as it is American. With a lot of influence from its neighbours across the Pacific, you don’t have to go far for a good bowl of Chinese food, as the city boast’s the oldest Chinatown in North America. The city’s engaging architecture pays homage to it’s Spanish roots, and has a laid-back, swinging feel. While it remains a popular destination for visitors worldwide, it has a homegrown charm that prevents it from growing into a dreary tourist trap.
Whether it’s shopping in Union Square, riding the famed Cable Car up and down the steep hills, or twisting and turning down Lombard, the crookedest street in the world, you know you’re in for a good time here. Cruising round the bay on a boat or on a jet-ski is also a brilliant way to see the skyline.
Keeping a sinister vigil over the city is the small island of Alcatraz, also known as ‘The Rock’. Infamous for serving as a maximum security prison for three decades until it’s closure in 1963, and for Clint Eastwood’s escape in the 1979 film, the cellblock remains on the island, and is a crucial destination for all visitors to the Bay Area to revisit it’s grim history.
The best part about San Francisco? It’s proximity to several other quaint sites – a jaunt across the Golden Gate Bridge (after which you must stop and snap several panoramic views of the city – a requirement) will get you to Sausalito and Tiburon, little boutique towns that are worth an afternoon lunch or tea break. The Muir Woods can also be found across the way, with Redwood trees like skyscrapers. Driving to the east across the Bay Bridge takes you to pretty Lake Tahoe up in the mountains, or drive down south to San Jose and Los Angeles.
Whether you’re up for an urban holiday or a more relaxing one, San Francisco and it’s surroundings will have something for you!