VacationsConsistently ranking as one of the top vacations in the U.S., and one of the most unique cities in the world, it is easy to see why the classic crooner Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco, the most romantic city on earth. The awards and accolades by the media are endless, but what's priceless is the real experience, itself. San Francisco should be on your list of places to see before you die, or better still, places to return to at least four times.
While San Francisco once declared it was the biggest city in the Bay Area, San Jose passed it by some years ago and has over a million people, while San Francisco is surrounded by bays, the Pacific Ocean and sits on hills with little room to expand. The city grows by about 10,000 people annually, and currently is under 900,000.
The nation's fifth largest metropolitan region registers a population of 6 million when combined with San Jose / Silicon Valley. It hosts just under 20 million visitors, conventioneers and business travelers each year, and the best way to get San Francisco is to fly into San Francisco Airport (SFO.) Beware that fog sometimes cancels flights in and out of the city, especially in mornings and late afternoons. From the airport you can catch BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train directly into the city a few miles away. There are plenty of taxis, so you may want to weigh out the cost of a shared taxi ride with BART tickets that at last check were under $10.
Things to do in San Francisco:
Take a cable car ride. Cable cars climb up and down the steep streets
sporting panoramic views of beautiful San Francisco bay. Everybody wants to ride them, so there's often a wait on busy days.
Visit Fisherman's Wharf and colorful Pier 39 where street artists perform daily. Though it may seem a bit touristy, the Pier area has a rich history spanning the early days of the Gold Rush when goods were shipped into the wharf in the fast-growing city. Special events, museums and attractions, dining and shops all are located in and around the pier.
See Alcatraz Island - Once a prison where it was believed that no man ever escaped and lived to tell, today you can take a boat ride over to the island and take a self-guided tour. Special events include tours of the gardens and other aspects of the island, owned and operated by the National Parks.
Visit Golden Gate Park - One of the nation's prettiest parks and home to museums, a Japanese Tea Garden and events such as free concerts, the park is well worth the visit.
Walk on the Golden Gate Bridge. You can park your car and walk across the pedestrian walkway that goes across this world famous bridge.
Take a city tour on a bus to see Coit Tower, Nob Hill, World's Crookedest Street, Ghirardelli Square, North Beach and other points of interest.
Take in a theatrical show. Popular events includes Beach Blanket Babylon, and Teatro Zinzani. zinzanni.org. For those who love dance, San Francisco Ballet is one of the finest ballet companies in the U.S.
Visit an event - Major parades and events in San Francisco include the Easter Parade, St. Patrick's Day Parade, Chinese New Year Parade, and many festivals with wine & food sampling. Oktoberfest, Halloween's Exotic, Erotic Ball and the Dickens Festival are several costumed events that show you the wilder side of San Francisco.
See a ballgame. AT&T Park features the award-winning San Francisco Giants MLB baseball team overlooking the San Francisco bay. Candlestick Park hosts the San Francisco 49'ers NFL team.
Eat out! San Francisco is known for its multi-ethnic cuisine ranging from Italian to Chinese. There are several individuals and companies offering food tours but our favorite is offered through GraceAnn Walden. theyummyreport.com