What’s Doing in San Francisco
“It is an odd thing, but every one who disappears is said to be seen at San Francisco. It must be a delightful city, and possess all the attractions of the next world.” – Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde may just have been onto something here. As one might expect from a world-class city, San Francisco offers its visitors and residents rich culture, exceptional cuisine, and non-stop entertainment. It can be explored well on foot and by public transit, although newcomers to the city should be prepared for its daunting terrain, which is unusually hilly for an urban setting.
Being a large financial hub on the West Coast, San Francisco may be the earliest rising city in the U.S. (its financial establishment works Wall Street hours). After New York, it’s the second most densely populated city in the U.S. as well, cramming its 825,000 citizens into 47 square miles although it’s only the fourteenth most populated city in the U.S. and fourth in California.
Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, the city retains a cool climate year round with little variation, ranging from temperatures in the fifties in winter to sixties in the summer (ten to twenty degrees Celsius). A saying commonly misattributed to Mark Twain, but actually unknown in origin, puts it quite well: “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”
WHAT TO DO
While the Golden Gate Bridge is neither the longest, tallest, newest, or oldest suspension bridge, it claims the status of being the most photographed in the world. Iconic and instantly recognizable, the bridge connects the northern part of the city with Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and provides access to other popular destinations such as Napa and Sonoma (wine country). Although a toll bridge for vehicles, tourists are invited to cross it on bicycle or by foot free of charge, and be delighted by breathtaking city and water views including Alcatraz Island to the East.
For visitors in the mood for a short drive, Twin Peaks presents an arresting view of downtown San Francisco. Widely hailed as the best spot to watch the sunrise or sunset, this popular destination sits geographically in the center of the city at an elevation of 922 feet (281 m).
For another great view of the city, head up one of the many stone staircases, draped with shade-providing green foliage, that lead to Coit Tower, located in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood in the Northeastern part of the city. Inside the tower, visitors can enjoy a display of murals on the way up to the observation deck. The $5 admission fee is well worth it for a 360-degree view of the city.
While in the Coit Tower area, head to Fisherman’s Wharf, a decidedly more touristy destination. Explore the boardwalk and pier, get your feet a little sandy, dip your toes in the water, and have a bread bowl (a soup where the bread is the vessel the soup is served in). Before heading out, a stop by Ghirardelli Square to satisfy one’s sweet tooth and get an insider’s look on how the company’s chocolate is made may be the ticket. For more in the piers, boardwalks and dining department, a short walk over to Pier 39 may well prove that more of the same isn’t necessarily a bad thing.