San Francisco, one of the world’s favorite cities, has a magnetic appeal that makes it an ideal year-round destination. With spectacular views and appealing scenery, it has easily become America’s most beautiful city. Only in San Francisco can you find such desirable climate, cosmopolitan character, unique topography and world-renowned cuisine.

San Francisco Offers…

Culinary Excellence:  A metropolis in every sense of the word, San Francisco has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the nation and is repeatedly named one of the best restaurant cities in the United States and the world.  Cultural diversity, a healthy atmosphere of creativity and competition and access to the freshest and finest ingredients combine to create a prime culinary destination.

  • Known as one of the world's most creative cities, San Francisco is regularly rated by magazines and culinary foundations as one of the finest restaurant cities in the world.  Chefs are celebrities in San Francisco. 
  • Several San Francisco chefs and restaurants have won James Beard Foundation Awards, considered the Oscars of the food world. In 2009, Nate Appleman, formerly of A16 in San Francisco, was named the national Rising Star Chef, awarded to a chef younger than 30. Three San Francisco restaurants were also nominated for the 2010 award for Best New Restaurant including RN74, Flour + Water, and Frances. At least two San Francisco restaurants or chefs were nominated in almost every category this year.
  • Beyond the Golden Gate, several Bay Area restaurants shined in the 2010 awards. Nicole Plue of Yountville’s Redd won the Outstanding Pastry Chef Award. Timothy Hollingsworth of Yountville’s acclaimed French Laundry won the Rising Star Chef Award. In Napa, the Shafer Vineyards won for Outstanding Wine and Spirits.
  • In the 2011 Michelin Guide, The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena joined The French Laundry as the Bay Area’s second restaurant to receive a 3-star Michelin Rating. San Francisco restaurants Coi, Cyrus and Manresa maintain their 2-star rating this year. Plus, five more restaurants were added with 1-star to the guide, making a total of 42 San Francisco restaurants rated by the Michelin Guide.
  • Bay Area chefs appear regularly on “Top Chef”-- Michael Chiarello of Bottega in      Yountville, Elizabeth Falkner of Orson and Citizen Cake in San Francisco, and Hubert Keller of Fleur de Lys in San Francisco competed on “Top Chef Masters.”
  • San Francisco is home to Ron Siegel, the first and only American chef to unanimously win the Japanese Iron Chef competition in 1999, and was one of Food & Wine            Magazine’s “10 Best New Chefs in America.”
  • Situated between California's fertile agricultural regions and the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco has unlimited access to the freshest ingredients.  The City is adjacent to America's finest wine-producing regions, including Napa, Sonoma, Monterey, Carmel and the Central Coast.
  • Visit a neighborhood farmers market. The Ferry Building’s farmers market is one of the country’s most famous – offer locally grown produce and fruit, there is also an inside market where visits may indulge in gourmet chocolate, sample fresh cheese, or try olive oil, mushrooms, freshly baked bread and other edible treats.
  • Dine About Town – visiting in late January or early June? Enjoy a there’s a new two-course lunch menu for $17.95 and the three-course dinner menu is $34.95 at more than 100 participating Dine About Town restaurants in the San Francisco area.

Arts and Culture: San Francisco supports a world-renowned opera, symphony and ballet, international film festivals, major public art museums, and dozens of galleries and theatres. A dynamic and diverse year round calendar of events puts the city at the forefront of the American art scene.  Landmark cultural institutions include the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the deYoung Museum, the Legion of Honor, the Asian Art Museum, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and many others.

  • A San Francisco CityPASS packs unlimited Muni and cable car transportation plus a collection of San Francisco’s most popular five attractions in a prepaid booklet that saves 49% off regular admissions.

Diverse neighborhoods.  San Francisco is a collection of neighborhoods, each reflecting the diversity of its population.  Visitors flock to North Beach, the Little Italy of the West, and the largest Chinatown outside of Asia.   The Mission District with its eclectic nightlife and Latin heritage, and SOMA (South of Market) with its equally lively club scene, are gaining in popularity.  The African American heritage of the Fillmore Jazz District is neighbors with the restaurants, festivals and shops of Japantown.  On the western side of town, the Sunset and Richmond districts are gathering places for the world, with Asian, Russian, Irish and other influences.

Spectator Sports: San Francisco Bay area is home to a wide variety of sports:  professional baseball (San Francisco Giants, Oakland A's), football (49ers), basketball (Golden State Warriors), hockey (San Jose Sharks), tennis, collegiate contests, and horse racing. The crowning gem of San Francisco sports is the downtown AT&T Park, home of the 2010 World Series winning San Francisco Giants.

International Conventions: Conventions held in San Francisco attract attendees from all over the world, particularly in the medical, legal, scientific and hi-tech fields. Moscone Convention Center is a premier facility offering 900,000 sq. feet of meeting and exhibit space. 

A State-of-the- Art International Airport:  San Francisco International Airport, known as SFO, is extraordinarily modern and convenient. The new International Terminal is the largest in North America and offers passengers the highest level of service for baggage, customs, restaurants and airport facilities. SFO offers non-stop links with more than 30 international points on 25 international carriers. The Bay Area's largest airport connects non-stop with more than 65 cities in the U.S. on 20 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

SFO is only 15 miles south of the City, just 30 minutes from downtown. The new Bay Area Rapid Transit, BART, train offers travelers a direct link from the airport to the City with a nominal cost of $8.10 USD.

A City with Colorful History: San Francisco has an international birthright. Five flags (English, Spanish, Mexican, the Republic of California and the USA) have flown over the region during its first four centuries, 1579-1850. The city was known first by the Spanish name “Yerba Buena” until 1847 when it was officially christened San Francisco.

After gold was discovered in 1848 near Sacramento, 140 miles east of the city, the population exploded. The frenzied rush for gold filled the port of San Francisco with people of all nationalities, customs and languages.  The City's innate cosmopolitanism is evident everywhere and can be seen its culinary arts, neighborhoods and street names, cultural ambiance and especially in the ethnic pageantry, which highlights the annual events schedule.

Today there are some 7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area. The hub of a nine-county complex and one of the financial and biotech capitals of the West, the city has a resident population of about 824,525. 

  • Mission Dolores, 16th and Dolores streets, is the oldest structure in San Francisco. Many of the city’s pioneers are buried in an adjacent cemetery.
  • Old St. Mary's (California and Grant streets) is located on the outskirts of the financial district in Chinatown and is one of San Francisco's best-loved ecclesiastical landmarks.  Known as the tranquil grandmother of the City's churches, it is San Francisco's first cathedral and was dedicated at the midnight mass on Christmas 1854.
  • Alamo Square is surround by picture-perfect “painted ladies” – colorful Victorians – many that survived the San Francisco 1906 earthquake and fire.

A Unique Location: San Francisco offers travelers two built-in advantages. It's one of the most scenic cities in the world and yet one of the most compact.  The city is located on a 46.6 square-mile peninsula bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the north by the Golden Gate Strait and from north to east by San Francisco Bay. Only in San Francisco will visitors find:

  • The Golden Gate Bridge
  • Alcatraz Island – a former federal penitentiary that housed Al Capone and the Birdman of Alcatraz
  • Coit Tower – a stunning Art Deco icon jutting into the skyline that is home to WPA murals.
  • Transamerica pyramid – unique to the San Francisco skyline, the landmark has become synonymous with the city by the bay.

Spectacular Scenery:  San Francisco is built on a series of more than 43 hills. Consequently, almost every other street points the way to a panoramic view of the Bay. The principal hills, which early earned it the Roman sobriquet of "City of Seven Hills," are Nob, Russian, Telegraph, Twin Peaks, Mount Davidson, Rincon and Lone Mountain.

  • San Francisco’s natural inclinations offer some challenging ascents for even the most physically fit. As one anonymous person quipped, "When you get tired of walking around in San Francisco, you can always lean against          it."  Among the steepest streets: Filbert            between Leavenworth and Hyde (31.5 percent grade); 22nd Street between Church and Vicksburg (31.5 percent grade); Jones between Union and Filbert (29 percent grade); Duboce Avenue between Alpine and Buena Vista (27.9 percent grade). Percentage indicates for    every 100 feet, block rises 3l.5 feet, 29 feet, etc.
  • Drive up to Twin peaks on a clear day and take-in the panoramic views of the entire city
  • Take a famous cable car up Powell St. and visit mansions of railroad tycoons – many have are now Grand Dame hotels such as the Fairmont and the Huntington. Someone wanting to visit the world-famous "Gates of Paradise" in Florence, Italy, need go no further than Grace Cathedral atop Nob Hill (Taylor and California streets) and see an exact size replica of the famed Ghiberti Doors, which depict scenes from the Old Testament.  Grace Cathedral is the third largest Episcopal cathedral in the United States and open to visitors from all over the world.  More than 300,000 people a year use Grace Cathedral for numerous activities for social, spiritual and intellectual needs.
  • Russian Hill has many boutiques, second-hand stores and neighborhood restaurants
  • Hop in your car and drive around the scenic “49 Mile Drive” to experience all of San Francisco’s scenery.    See http://www.sanfrancisco.travel/maps/49miledrive.asp  for more information and directions.

Year-round Comfortable Climate: San Francisco is celebrated for its vitality and refreshing individualism. Its climate mirrors those characteristics. San Francisco is one of the four sunniest major cities in the Unites States and temperatures rarely rise above 75 or drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Freshening winds from the Pacific wash the city in all seasons, giving it an aura of perpetual spring. San Francisco's natural air conditioning -- the morning and evening fog -- make the city a welcome respite when much of the rest of the nation is sweltering in summer heat. Places to enjoy a picnic and the great outdoors in San Francisco include:

  • Ocean Beach -- at the base of the historic Cliff House, Ocean Beach is a playground for      surfers, kite enthusiasts and picnic lovers. Grab the Graham crackers, dark chocolate and marshmallows for an old-fashioned s’mores party at the beach. Small wood bonfires for groups of less than 25 (without permit) are permitted on Ocean Beach between Fulton          and Lincoln. The full regulations are posted at www.nps.gov/goga.
  • San Francisco’s has six municipal golf courses under the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (www.sfgov.org/recpark) at these courses: Harding (18 holes), site of the 2005 World Golf Championship; Fleming (9 holes), Lincoln Park (18 holes), famous for its fairways along the Golden Gate; Sharp Park (18 holes); Golden Gate Park (9 holes), and Gleneagles (9 holes). Courses are open from dawn until dusk.
  • Exercise the intellect and the body on one of the free, guided walks offered by San Francisco City Guides (www.sfcityguides.org). More than 30 tours are offered day-in-and-day-out by the volunteer group. They canvass every corner of the city from the ever-changing Castro District to Victorians of Alamo Square. Several of the tours are offered in the early evening hours including Telegraph Hill (5:30 p.m.) and North Beach at Night (7 p.m.).

The Gateway to Northern California: San Francisco is the gateway to a vast vacationland, lying within easy driving distance of the High Sierra resorts of Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, the Monterey/Carmel peninsula, California's wine country in Napa and Sonoma counties, the Redwood Empire and the spectacular Mendocino Coast.

For general information on hotel packages and reservations; events; activities and transportation in San Francisco, visit www.sanfrancisco.travel. For lodging reservations, call 800-637-5196 within North America or 415-391-2000 or 415-392-0328 (TTY/TTD) elsewhere.

The San Francisco Visitors Planning Guide is available at the Visitor Information Center, 900 Market St., at the corner of Powell and Market streets, lower level, Hallidie Plaza.  A virtual edition of the guide is also available online: http://guides.weaver-group.com/sf/ovg2/2010/ A visitor's kit may also be ordered online at www.sanfrancisco.travel, by phone at 415-391-2000 or 415-392-0328 (TTY/TTD), by written request to the San Francisco Visitor Information Center, 900 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94102, or via email to vic1@sanfrancisco.travel.  Domestic and international shipping charges apply.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop links with more than 30 international points on five continents with 29 international carriers. The Bay Area's largest airport connects non-stop with more than 65 cities in the U.S. on 20 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.   

American Express® is the official credit card partner for the San Francisco Travel Association.

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