Your guide to the Golden City
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August 31, 2022 | View OnlineSign Up

There’s an intoxicating energy that flows across the Golden Gate Bridge and into the hilly, zig-zagged maze of San Francisco.

Excitement is ever-brimming along its slopey streets. Although it’s quite literally the center of modern innovation, the brilliance of the city extends far beyond bits and bytes. Farm-to-table pioneers plug their wares in the astounding number of restaurants and bars, a wash of phenomenal parks make it one of the country’s greenest cities, and tourists have no qualms being trapped in some of its thrilling attractions.

What’s more, cliches can’t contain San Fran’s beauty. If you can slow down for a moment, glance around, and take in the quirky, history-drenched, and oft-shaken cityscape rolling out around you. 

Strap in. Welcome to San Francisco.


It was almost completely destroyed

San Francisco sits near the infamous San Andreas fault, a colossal strike-slip fault that is the source of California’s most significant earthquakes. San Francisco fell victim to the most vicious of these in 1906, when the city was almost completely destroyed.

The 7.8 magnitude quake, with the help of a fire that burned for days after, destroyed the homes of more than 250 thousand people, killed over 2500, and leveled almost ten square miles of the urban area. The disaster prompted a mass rebuilding of the city using earthquake and fireproof designs to help protect it against another quake.


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Don’t rely on the cable cars

Scotland is a part of the UK (yes, they’re British too) and use the British Pound Sterling, just like England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Going between the countries, you might notice that Scottish pound notes look different from their English counterparts.

English pounds are accepted in Scotland, and Scottish pounds in England. They’re worth exactly the same, and you shouldn’t worry about having a mixture in your wallet. 

Unfortunately, you might come across a few people south of the border that refuse to accept Scottish bills. They have no real reason to, but annoyingly, they’re within their rights to refuse any form of payment for whatever reason they see fit.

Dress for every temperature

Mark Twain famously said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco.” While he may have been sprinkling some hyperbole into his writing for good measure, he’s not totally wrong.

San Francisco is blessed with an eternal Spring but a truly unpredictable temperament. Temperatures vary very little throughout the year, maintaining a pleasant mildness not seen in many places. But that does mean it can get a little chilly, even in summer. Always throw in a warmer layer to be safe.

What might throw you off is the sudden changes or the differing weather in one part of the city to another. Your friend could be enjoying the sunshine in one neighborhood, while you’re under the clouds with a sweater just a mile away.

Let your flag fly

San Francisco is one of the most tolerant cities on earth, never mind the United States. The hippy movement found its feet there and the city is a sort of a spiritual home for the LGBTQ+ crowd. Visiting during Pride Week in San Fran is spectacular, but any time of the year, it’s a wonderful place to feel less labeled, more you.

While the whole city is welcoming, if you’re interested in a bit of the history, visiting Castro, the city’s first gay neighborhood, is an excellent experience.


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Check out the Golden Gate from every angle

Arguably the most famous bridge in the world, The Golden Gate is a San Francisco icon. 1.7 miles long, 227 meters high, and infinitely beautiful, it’s known the world over as a marvel of engineering.

Visiting the bridge can take several forms. If you’re looking for a quick snap with the best angles, Hawk Hill takes the cake. The entire bridge is on show, along with Downtown San Francisco, making for an epic photo-op. Getting up close via Marshall Beach lets you grasp the scale of the bridge and offers a unique perspective from the cliffs below. It’s also a little better for crowd dodging (although sunset is always gonna be tough).

If you’re interested in the history of the record-breaking bridge, there are several tours available. Free tours run Thursdays and Sundays, while a host of paid options are available too. It’s an incredible structure, and a guide will have you bursting with future trivia night-winning tidbits by the end of your visit.

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Escape Alcatraz Prison

Floating ominously in San Francisco’s bay, the lonely rock known as Alcatraz Prison draws millions of tourists a year - and for a good reason. The storied history of one of the most famous penitentiaries is legendary.

Al Capone, Whitey Bulger, and Robert Shroud are just a few of the famous criminals to have been locked within its walls. But its history is even more interesting. It’s been functioning in some capacity since the Civil War but gained notoriety after its conversion into a maximum security prison, inspiring books, movies, and other lore.

Nowadays, it makes an amazing day out. It’s now part of the National Park system, costing around $25, including the ferry from Downtown. It’s a mainly self-guided tour highlighting the history of “The Rock,” but there are often special exhibits based on the time of year. You can also grab a tour guide for a more in-depth experience.

Night tours are a great way to make things a little more exciting. A guided boat tour around the island is part of this experience, as well as a little sunset on the bay before you get to exploring the prison itself.

Learn something new

San Francisco is home to a dizzying array of museums and art galleries, some of which are comfortably in the echelons of other world-class attractions.

For the artistically inclined, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a go-to. Packed with household names, this massive museum could grapple you into an entire day. Make sure to carve out a good chunk of time if you’re a Warhol nut. The Legion of Honor museum is another cracker featuring the likes of Rodin, Monet, and Picasso.

The California Academy of Sciences goes in a different direction, offering an immersive day out for the family. Experience an earthquake, explore a recreated rainforest, and marvel at some of the live animals that call the academy home.

The massive Asian presence in San Francisco is typically celebrated in the restaurants of Chinatown, but a trip to the Asian Art museum adds new depth to that aspect of the City’s culture. Spanning the entire Asian continent, visitors can check out an astonishing number of exhibits. It’s also free on the first Sunday of the month.


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Splash on central

Location is key during your San Francisco stay. With so much walking involved, you don’t want to be too far from the action. Luckily, the city has you covered, and despite its expensive reputation, there are plenty of reasonable digs to opt for instead of its unbelievable line of high-end hotels.

Whichever you pick, you’re in for a treat.

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Our Top Pick: Palace Hotel

San Francisco, California
$$$ | See inside

Once the largest hotel in the world and San Francisco’s first luxury hotel, the Palace has been dominating the hotel scene since 1875. Effortlessly owning its regal moniker, guests are treated to a wonder of the gilded age, best experienced in the massive gold-clad lobby where an epic chandelier dangles overhead.

Considering its downtown location and reputation, the average of around $400 a room is reasonable and more than worthy of a splash. Step into a little piece of San Francisco history.

Book Your Stay

Other Top Picks


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Sea food, eat food.

Food is important in San Francisco. There are more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the United States, 28 Michelin-starred eateries, seafood to die for, and some of the best baking this side of the Atlantic.

Of course, San Fran’s huge Asian influence makes it one of the best places to sample some Eastern flavors, whether that’s sushi, hot pot, or a glorious fusion concocted right there in the Bay. Dig in, and don’t stop.

Our Top Pick: Angler

San Francisco, California
$$$$ Menu

Angler is a special spot. Its sweeping views of the Golden Gate bridge are only matched by the incredible fresh-caught seafood served at its tables. Elegant without the stuffiness, sophisticated but grounded in taste, and above all, bloody good food.

Make sure you book a table as early as possible to ensure you get the chance to enjoy the best the San Francisco Bay has to offer.

Reserve a table

The Best of the Rest


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