Honors & Awards for San Francisco
By: Laurie Armstrong
Accolades for the destination, the San Francisco Travel Association and San Francisco International Airport
Over the years, San Francisco has received honors and accolades from all over the world and for a wide variety of attributes. Below are recent highlights, sorted by San Francisco, the destination; San Francisco Travel Association, the city’s official destination marketing organization; and San Francisco International Airport, the Bay Area’s largest airport.
San Francisco, California
November 2013 - Saveur, named San Francsico Experts' Choice: Best Markets & Artisan Shops in the magazine’s Culinary Travel Awards. Saveur’s panelists singled out San Francisco as the world’s best city for food markets and artisan shops not only for the depth and breadth of its offerings, but for the level of support the city’s growers, bakers and makers receive from residents as well. www.saveur.com/culinary-awards
November 2013 - Condé Nast Traveler named San Francisco one of the Top 10 Cities in the United States in the 2013 Readers' Choice Awards. According to the magazine, “San Francisco nabbed third place with its ‘world of culture’ and ‘class.’ ‘I left my heart…’ said one reader, which may have something to do with the "great art museums, opera, food, symphony and beautiful neighborhoods." A new category was added this year, the Top 10 Hotels in San Francisco. Honor went to the St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton, Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons, Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, Orchard Hotel, Fairmont, Hotel Vitale, Argonaut Hotel and Orchard Garden Hotel. The Top 25 Hotels in Northern California included Cavallo Point and Inn Above Tide, both across San Francisco Bay in Sausalito.
October 2013 – The FlipKey blog, at Trip Advisor company, named San Francisco International Airport one of the top ten U.S. Airports for health and wellness, http://www.flipkey.com/blog/2013/09/26/mind-body-and-travel-best-airports-for-health-wellness/.
July 2013 – There are more vegetarians in American than ever, with 7.3 million vegetarians and 1 million vegans around the country. However, finding appropriate dining venues while traveling can still be a challenge. TravelNerd found the top 10 cities for vegetarians and San Francisco made the list because of the quality of its restaurants, http://www.nerdtravel.com/2013/best-cities-vegetarian-foodies. TravelNerd specifically looked for cities with large communities of vegetarians and vegans and plenty of dining options. They focused on finding fresh, healthy options that featured local, organic produce for travelers to really get a taste of that city’s culinary style.
July 2013 -–Trip Advisor’s Travelers’ Choice 2013 awards ranked San Francisco as the #2 city in the top 25 U.S. destinations and the #7 in the top 25 spots in the world. At http://www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice, readers are advised, “Every neighborhood in San Francisco has its own personality, from the hippie chic of the Upper Haight to the hipster grit of the Mission. The Marina district boasts trendy bistros and postcard-perfect views of the Golden Gate Bridge, while Noe Valley offers quaint and quiet boutiques. Wave hello to the sea lions at Pier 39, and sample local cheese and charcuterie at the Ferry Building. Sit in on a yoga session in Dolores Park or marvel at the Dutch Windmill across from Ocean Beach.”
June 2013 – The Smartfood brand, with support from SELF magazine, announced the list of Top 10 SMARTest Cities in America with San Francisco in the top spot. “San Francisco is full of active, socially responsible and eco-friendly residents that make it a natural choice as the nation’s SMARTest City,” the company said. Smartfood redefined SMART to align with the brand’s goal of eating and living well - Savvy, Motivated, Accomplished, Responsible and Thoughtful. They used the five criteria to determine the SMARTest cities in America. San Francisco was found to be savvy with more than 25 farmers markets. The city is motivated because 43,000 Bay Area residents use a bicycle as their primary means of getting to work every day. Residents are accomplished as evidenced by the fact that San Francisco has the second most female college graduates in the country and seven of the ten most visited websites are headquartered in the Bay Area. With more than 1,000 hotels certified as “green” and “eco-friendly,” San Francisco is clearly responsible. The San Francisco Bay Area has more than 580 philanthropies, proof of thoughtfulness.
June 2013 – In the first national, county-level assessment of how health and environmental factors affect the well-being of children younger than 18, U.S. News & World Report named San Francisco the #2 healthiest county for kids, http://health.usnews.com/health-news/best-childrens-hospitals/articles/2013/06/11/americas-50-healthiest-counties-for-kids. “ America’s 50 Healthiest Counties for Kids” named Marin County, located on the north side of the Golden Gate, as #1.
May 2013 – TravelNerd named San Francisco #2 in the “Top 10 Urban Destinations for Nature-Lovers,” http://www.travelnerd.com/blog/2013/top-10-urban-destinations-naturelovers. TravelNerd analyzed the numbers to find the best destinations for nature-lovers who want enjoy the atmosphere of a city as well as easy access to nature, based upon three questions: Does the city set aside space for parks? Are there national parks nearby? Is the weather nice enough to spend time outside? They reported, “With 11 national parks in the vicinity, especially just over the Golden Gate Bridge, and accessible parks around the city, San Francisco is a great place for nature-lovers to gather and take in the sea air.”
April 2013 - Walk Score, the leading measure of walkability, analyzed travel data and named San Francisco #2 on the list of “Top 10 US Cities to Travel Car-Free,” http://blog.walkscore.com/2013/04/top-10-cities-to-travel-car-free. They examined the Walk Score (walkability rating) and Transit Score (measure of public transit access) and car shares within an easy walk of hotels. San Francisco offers more hotel rooms in walkable neighborhoods and green transportation options than nearly any other city.
January 2013 – GayCities.com named San Francisco the best “Scenic City” and “Pride City” in their “Best of Gay Cities 2012” feature (http://www.gaycities.com/promos/best-of-2012/). The LGBT website says, “The ‘City by the Bay’ is one of the world's most panoramic, open and vibrant, attracting millions of tourists each year. Gay San Francisco is absolutely integral to that well-deserved reputation, integrated into every aspect of the city's life, from nightlife to politics to fashion to construction. And gay life is hardly limited geographically to the Castro; you'll find gay people everywhere…Truly San Francisco earns its reputation as the cool, gray city of love.”
December 2012 – CruiseCritic.com named San Francisco “Best U.S. Port” in their 2012 Editors’ Picks Awards, http://www.cruisecritic.com/editors-picks, describing it as “One of the most beautiful cities in America to sail into, San Francisco has long been a contender as one of the country's best ports. But new efforts to redevelop its waterfront and build a state-of-the-art cruise terminal combined with fantastic sightseeing and easy-to-access air service, put it over the top.”
November 2012 – Gogobot (http://www.gogobot.com), a global community of in-the-know travelers sharing insider tips on the world's best destinations, announced the first Gogobot Travelers' Favorite Awards, a newly unveiled honor determined by the votes and recommendations of Gogobot's 2.5 million users, their friends and like-minded travelers in their network. From more than 60,000 places visited, Gogobot users selected San Francisco as the best travel destination in the world. http://www.hotel-online.com/News/PR2012_4th/Nov12_GogobotBest.html
October 2012 – San Francisco was named the #1 city in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2013. “We chose San Francisco as the #1 city to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2013 because we think travelers should give this perennial favorite a fresh look this year,” says Suki Gear, commissioning editor for Lonely Planet. “The city always guarantees amazing travel experiences, but the America's Cup will breathe new life into the waterfront (in addition to the expanded Exploratorium at Pier 15). New trend-setting restaurants, galleries and shops are popping up daily, so we have every reason to believe San Francisco will be shining more brightly than ever in 2013.”
May 2012 – The Trust for Public Land Park Score rates San Francisco’s urban park system the best in the U.S. Based on a scale of zero to five park benches, San Francisco leads the nation with 4.5 benches and a score of 74 out of a maximum of 100 points. Considered one of the most comprehensive park rating systems ever developed, ParkScore was designed to help local communities identify where new parks are needed most and which park improvements deliver the greatest impact. http://parkscore.tpl.org/
April 2012 – San Francisco took top honors in the U.S. City with Best Gay Festivals category in the inaugural Grindr Gay Travel Awards. Grindr, an all-male geo-social network app, polled 3.5 million users in 192 countries to determine the winners. The results were announced at the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association conference.
February 2012 – Based on an analysis of results from 28 million people who took the RealAge test, pioneered by Dr. Michel Roizen of “The You Docs” team, San Francisco placed first in the 2012 Top Cities for Staying Young in America. Twenty-two factors from the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas were reviewed.
August 2011 - San Francisco was named the top place in America for a fall getaway by U.S. News & World Report’s new rankings of the Best Vacations.
July 2011 – San Francisco was named the “Greenest” city in North America in the first North American Green Cities Index. The research study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and commissioned by Siemens assesses and compares 27 major U.S. and Canadian cities on environmental performance and policies across nine categories – CO2 emissions, energy, land use, buildings, transport, water, waste, air quality and environmental governance.
May 2011 – San Francisco named #1 for both Best U.S. Vacations and Best Summer Vacations in U.S. News & World Report’s first-ever Best Vacations rankings (http://travel.usnews.com). San Francisco also ranked high on lists of World’s best Places to Visit (#4), Best Family Summer Vacations (#8) and Best Honeymoon Destinations (#19).
October 2010 - The readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine voted San Francisco Best U.S. City in their annual Readers' Choice Awards; San Francisco has been ranked #1 20 out of 21 years and this is the 18th consecutive year that the city has been honored with the Best U.S. City award.
October 2010 – The American Planning Association places the Ferry Building on its “top 10 Great Places in America” list. Launched in 2007 Great Places in America celebrates places of exemplary character, quality and planning.
July 2010 – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) adds San Francisco to its list of “North America’s Most Vegetarian-Friendly Large Cities.”
May 2010 – Fast Company magazine places San Francisco on the Fast Cities honor roll for “blending the best and boldest ideas.” San Francisco was specifically cited for open-source government and initiatives to use social media to make city services work better.
May 2010 – San Francisco came in with the leanest profile in a recent ranking of “America’s Fattest Cities” by Men’s Health magazine. The city tied with Burlington, VT with an A+ score for the smallest percentage of people who are overweight, with type 2 diabetes and other factors.
April 2010 – San Francisco clocks in as #3 in a Real Simple magazine survey of “21 Top Time-Saving Cities in America.” Rankings in five categories (Getting Around, Health and Safety, Information and Technology, Green Time-Savers and Lifestyle) placed San Francisco just behind Seattle and Portland.
April 2010 - AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants since April 2000, received U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Silver Certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Existing Buildings, Operations and Maintenance (EBO&M). This LEED Silver Certification for an existing building makes AT&T Park the first major league ballpark to receive this honor.
September 2009 - San Francisco named one of “The World’s Happiest Cities” in an article posted Sept. 2, 2009 on Forbes.com. San Francisco, which ranks seventh out of 10 listed cities, is the only city in North America to be included in what the magazine calls “urban centers closely associated with unmitigated joy.”
June 2009 – TripAdvisor’s survey of more than 3,400 U.S. respondents placed San Francisco in second place after New York City for favorite city honors.
June 2009 - San Francisco was named the third healthiest city in the United States by BestPlaces.net. Cities were selected based on key factors including health status, nutrition and exercise, plus mental health and life balance. June 2009 – Dwell magazine names the International Terminal at San Francisco International Airport the best in the United States in its June issue.
May 2009 – Fast Company magazine places San Francisco on the Fast Cities honor roll for “exemplary initiatives that are improving neighborhoods, transforming lives, and helping build better, faster cities for the future.”
May 2009 – The Web site, www.DogFriendly.com, has named San Francisco the top dog-friendly destination for people who want to take dogs with them on their vacations. Rankings take into account the quality of dog-friendly accommodations, transportation, beaches, parks, attractions, stores, dining and activities.
May 2009 – San Francisco is named Favorite Domestic Destination in the 2009 Gay.com Travel Awards poll. More than 25,000 votes were cast.
April 2009 – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Pacific Southwest Region 9 awarded SMG and The Moscone Center the prestigious 2009 Environmental Achievement Award for distinguishing itself as a sustainable building that has helped to protect the environment.
March 2009 – A study commissioned by Nalgene, placed San Francisco in the number one slot as “America’s least wasteful city.” Twenty-three waste focused behaviors ranging from turning off the lights when leaving the room to using public transit were assessed in the survey which polled 3,750 individuals in the top 25 largest U.S. cities.
March 2009 – Restaurants at San Francisco International Airport were rated the best in the United States by readers of Inside Flyer in a poll commissioned by Airport Revenue News.
October 2008 – Community Marketing, Inc. (CMI), the San Francisco-based market research and communications firm, reports the results of its 13th annual LGBT Tourism Study. San Francisco placed third for leisure travel and fifth for business travel; however, its high rankings in both categories pushed it to second place for overall most-visited destination.
October 2008 – The readers of The Out Traveler tapped San Francisco for second place “Domestic Destination” honors (Silver) in their fourth annual Readers’ Choice poll.
July 2008 – San Francisco was named the most “walkable” city in the nation by the Web site WalkScore.com. The city scored 86 out of 100 based on residents’ proximity to services and amenities. New York was second with 83 and Boston third with 79.
July 2008 - Travel + Leisure Magazine - San Francisco was named the #2 city in the United States and Canada and the #10 city in the world in T+L’s World’s Best Awards 2008 readers’ survey. San Francisco has been ranked in the #1 or #2 spot on the list of Top Cities in the United States and Canada for the past 13 years since the magazine started the readers’ poll in 1996. Three local hotels were also among the top 100: Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco; The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, and Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco. Virgin America, San Francisco’s “hometown airline” based at San Francisco International Airport, was named Best Domestic Airline for the first time.
June 2008 - Forbes.com ranks San Francisco number six in its "America’s 10 Cleanest Cities." It writes that the City ranks in the top five in waste-management spending and water quality.
June 2008 – In an annual survey by deodorant maker Old Spice, San Francisco upheld its reputation as the “cool, grey city of love,” ranking 100th as the “least sweaty city.”
June 2008 – As one of the TravelAge West Editor’s Pick Award nominees, San Francisco received the 2008 WAVE (Western Agents Votes of Excellence) Award for Best U.S. City for an Urban Vacation. More than 125 companies, individuals and destinations were recognized by the readers of TravelAge West in 47 categories spanning the cruise, tour operator, airline, hotel and resort and destination fields.
May 2008 – A special report posted on Forbes.com ranked San Francisco as America’s “best city for the outdoors” based on research from Trust for Public Land, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. The ranking also included data such as spending per resident, park land as a percentage of city land, number of recreation facilities, precipitation, sunshine, temperature extremes and air quality.
May 2008 – San Francisco bested Seattle as the fittest of America’s most populous cities according to a new program and report released May 29, 2008 by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The ACSM American Fitness Index™ ranked San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area number 1 based on figures related to healthy lifestyles and physical activities. The Bay Area scored above average on personal health indicators such as the percentage of residents who exercise regularly.
May 2008 – AT&T Park recognized as 2008 Sports Facility of the Year in the inaugural Sports Business Awards sponsored by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily. AT&T Park was chosen from four nominees and was cited for “being one of the most beautiful ballparks in all of baseball,” and one of the “most versatile and innovative. The home of the San Francisco Giants, AT&T Park was also the location of more than 400 events in 2007 including the 2007 All-Star Game.
March 2008 - San Francisco is the second greenest U.S. city according to Popular Science. The March 2008 issue names “America’s 50 Greenest Cities,” ranked on renewable energy, transportation and air quality, green buildings and public spaces, and recycling. Moscone Center was singled out for its solar panel installation.
October 2007 – Based on 60,000 votes from residents and visitors, 25 U.S. cities were ranked by Headline News, Travel + Leisure and CNN.com in the America’s Favorite Cities poll. San Francisco ranked first in the Notable Neighborhoods category; second in the Diversity, Worldly and Ethnic Food categories, and third in Home Design.
October 2007 – The American Planning Association (APA) designated North Beach as one of 10 Great Neighborhoods. Each year as part of its Great Places in America program, APA selects locales which exemplify exceptional character and highlight the role planners and planning play in creating communities of lasting value. North Beach was selected for its commitment to ethnic, cultural and economic diversity as well as sensible planning to enhance sustainability.
August 2007 – Forbes.com in their seventh annual “Best Cities for Singles” report named San Francisco the No. 1 city. Up from fourth place in 2006, the city ranked first for culture and received high marks for number of singles, nightlife, online dating and “cool.”
February 2007 – According to a survey conducted by the American Institute of Architects, the Golden Gate Bridge is the fifth favorite structure in the U.S. It was one of 11 Northern California structures to make the list of “150 favorite pieces of American architecture.”
San Francisco Travel Association
December 2013 - Smart Meetings magazine named the San Francisco Travel Association as a winner of its 10th annual Platinum Choice award. This prestigious award recognizes excellence in service and amenities among meeting hotels and resorts in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. An additional category recognizes outstanding services by destination and convention and visitor bureaus across North America. www.smartmeetings.com
September 2012 – The San Francisco Travel Association received the 2012 Destiny Award from the U.S. Travel Association for Best Full Marketing Campaign. The award honors the “49 Hours of SF: Arts & Culture” campaign which ran in June-September, 2011. The cooperative multi-media marketing program leveraged the city’s world-renowned arts and culture offerings to attract overnight visitors during the summer months.
August 2012 - The San Francisco Travel Association was honored as “Best Place for Small Meetings” and “Best Destination Video” by Convene -- the magazine of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) – in its first "Best of the Industry" Awards.
August 2012 – San Francisco Travel Association won Meetings & Conventions magazine’s "Gold Service Award” for the 25th time. The organization is a member of the award’s Hall of Fame.
August 2012 - The readers of Successful Meetings selected the San Francisco Travel Association to receive the magazine’s Pinnacle Award for providing outstanding service in their meeting programs. This is the 21st time that San Francisco has received this award.
March 2012 - The San Francisco Travel Association received the Excellence in Tourism Marketing Award from Visit California, which honored destinations and attractions statewide for outstanding tourism advertising, marketing and public relations programs. San Francisco Travel won in the new category of Best Integrated Marketing Campaign for their multi-media campaign, “49 Hours of SF: Arts & Culture” which was designed to boost summer business from Los Angeles.
October 2011 - The San Francisco Travel Association received Travel Weekly’s Gold Magellan Award for the “49 Hours of SF: Arts & Culture” marketing campaign. In a letter notifying SF Travel of the award, Kara Cleary, manager of the Travel Weekly Magellan Awards, said, “The 2011 Magellan Awards received entries from top travel organizations and professionals worldwide and the quality of the work was outstanding. Being selected a Magellan Award Winner is a tremendous achievement and proves you represent a high standard of excellence within the travel industry.”
October 2011 – The San Francisco Travel Association was honored for Outstanding Achievement in the Western Association of Convention and Visitors Bureau’s (WACVB) Best Idea Program for San Francisco Travel’s “49 Hours of SF: Arts & Culture” marketing campaign. The objective of the Best Idea program is to share innovative approaches to promoting destinations, managing organizations, providing services and communicating with stakeholders.
June 2011 – San Francisco Travel Association wins Meetings & Conventions magazine’s "Gold Service Award” for the 24th time.
July 2010 – The readers of Incentive voted the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau a 2010 Platinum Partner which recognizes the best in the business in the areas of motivation, corporate gifting and incentive travel.
October 2009 – Cited for its significant contribution to the local economy and the recent formation of the San Francisco Tourism Improvement District, the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau received an Ebbie (Excellence in Business) Economic Development Award from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.
July 2009 – Corporate & Incentive Travel honors San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau with magazine’s 2009 Award of Excellence. Bureaus voted to receive this coveted honor were selected by subscribers who voted for those that best served their meetings and/or incentive programs.
June 2009 - As a result of a subscriber ballot vote in Association Conventions & Facilities magazine, the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau was named a winner of the 2009 Distinctive Achievement Award, an annual award voted on by state, regional and national association meeting planners.
August 2008 – Subscribers to Insurance & Financial Meetings Management named the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau a winner in the 11th World Class Awards.
San Francisco International Airport
- “Airports Going Green” Award for Employee Wellness Program
- Gold Award: Airport - Overall - Eco-Friendly "Green" Airport — Travel Weekly 2012 Magellan Awards
- Silver Award: Airport - Overall - Social Media — Travel Weekly 2012 Magellan Awards
- Best Airport in the Americas— Frequent Business Traveler GlobeRunner Awards
- Best Single Social Media Promotion— Travel + Leisure Social Media in Travel + Tourism Awards (SMITTYs)
- Best Airport Staff in North America— Skytrax
- 2nd Place - Best Regional (U.S.) Airport— Skytrax
- 3rd Place - Best Airport in North America— Skytrax
- 4th Place - Best Terminal in the World (Terminal 2)— Skytrax
- Best Infrastructure (Terminal 2)— San Francisco Business Times
- Airport with Best Concession Program Design, Large Airports— Airport Revenue News
- Airport with Most Unique Services, Large Airports— Airport Revenue News
- Airport with Best Overall Concessions Program, Large Airports— Airport Revenue News
- Terminal with the Best Program Design (Terminal 2), Single Terminal Division— Airport Revenue News
- Terminal with the Best Customer Service (Terminal 2), Single Terminal Division— Airport Revenue News
- Terminal with the Best Concession Management Team (Terminal 2), Single Terminal Division— Airport Revenue News
- Leading Edge Award for Terminal 2— Executive Travel magazine
- Healthiest workplace for large companies (500 to 1,999 employees) in the Bay Area— San Francisco Business Times
- Airports Council International North America Excellence in Airport Marketing & Communications Contest, 3rd Place, Social Media Campaigns
- Public Managerial Excellence Award to Cheryl Nashir, SFO Associate Deputy Airport Director for Revenue Development and Management— Municipal Fiscal Advisory Council
- Best Overall Concession Program, Large Airport (three-way tie)— Airport Revenue News
- Best Concessions Design, Large Airport (tie)— Airport Revenue News
- Best Airport in North America— Business Traveller Germany
- Airport Safety Award— Federal Aviation Administration
- Best Overall Concessions Program, Large Airport— Airport Revenue News
- Second, Best Airports 2010— eDreams (external link)
- Best Airport Terminal in the United States— Dwell Magazine
- Best of Decade for International Terminal— San Francisco Chronicle
- Best of Decade for “You are Hear” Music Program— San Francisco Chronicle
- Silver Medal for Best Airport Website— flightglobal.com
- One of top Five US Airport Websites— aviation.com
- Best Airport Restaurants in the Country— poll, Airport Revenue News
- Best Airport in North America— Skytrax
- Fit Business Award— California Task Force on Youth and Workplace Wellness
- Nomination for Best Government Website, flysfo.com— Webby Awards
- Environmental Programs Award— U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9
For awards and honors received prior to 2007, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The San Francisco Travel Association is the official tourism marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, packages, activities and more, visit www.sanfrancisco.travel or call 415-391-2000. The Visitor Information Center is located at 900 Market St. in Hallidie Plaza, lower level, near the Powell Street cable car turnaround.
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San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop flights to more than 31 international points on 30 international carriers. The Bay Area's largest airport connects non-stop with 74 cities in the U.S. on 15 domestic airlines. For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps and details on shopping, dining, cultural exhibitions, ground transportation and more, visit www.flysfo.com. Follow us on www.twitter.com/flysfo and www.facebook.com/flysfo.
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