ith a reputation of an exciting and rollicking city since the boom-or-bust days of the California gold rush, San Francisco – the leading financial and cultural center of Northern California – is a unique, diverse and breathtakingly beautiful metropolis.
Consistently ranked as America’s favorite cosmopolitan city, San Francisco never ceases to entertain, featuring unrivaled attractions, renowned museums, electrifying nightlife and entertainment with a serendipity of unique neighborhoods which are real treasures.
PLACES TO VISIT
he Golden Gate Bridge, one of the Wonders of the Modern World – and possibly the most photographed bridge in the United States – this suspension bridge with its tremendous 746-foot tall towers, sweeping main cables, signature International Orange color, and Art Deco styling, it is the opening of the San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean, a sensory experience featuring color, light, and sound.
Visible from Fisherman’s Wharf, and known as “The Rock”, Alcatraz Island has witnessed a checkered history, with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison (1868), and a federal maximum-security civilian penitentiary from 1933 until 1963. The jail held some of the worst gangsters America had ever known, who occupied cellblocks A through D. Among them: Al Capone; Robert Stroud, the so-called Birdman of Alcatraz (an expert in ornithological diseases); Machine Gun Kelly; and Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, a member of Ma Barker’s gang. A total of 36 prisoners made 14 escape attempts, most of them were caught, some killed, other drowned. The heavy maintenance costs (all supplies, including water, had to be shipped in) eventually led the government to close the facility.
One of the top attractions in San Francisco, Chinatown is the largest Chinese community outside Asia, a major influential landmark in the history and culture of ethnic Chinese immigrants in North America. This enclave continues to retain its own customs, languages, places of worship, social clubs, and identity. Visitors can easily become immersed in a microcosmic Asian world, wandering aimlessly, weaving between locals and ducking into herbal shops, temples, pagoda roofs, dragon parades and, last but not least, some of the best Chinese restaurants in the country.
When the signature San Francisco cable cars started operating in 1873, Nob Hill became the city’s exclusive residential area for the newly rich and famous on the west coast, who had struck it rich in the gold rush. Today, this affluent district (“Nob” is a term in British slang to denote upper-class provenance) hosts the city’s luxury hotels — the Fairmont Hotel, the InterContinental Mark Hopkins, the Stanford Court, the Huntington Hotel, and spectacular Grace Cathedral.
ission Dolores (or “Mission San Francisco de Asís”, the spiritual birthplace of San Francisco) was founded in 1779 by the members of the Anza Expedition, during the evangelization of local Natives. This historic landmark, the city’s oldest surviving building and the district’s namesake, has always been the central place in the religious, civic, and cultural life of San Francisco.
Built around a small artificial lagoon, The Palace of Fine Arts, is a monumental structure originally constructed in 1915, and one of the few surviving structures built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. Architectural ornamentation around the entablature of the rotunda are the works of Bruno Louis Zimm and Ulric Ellerhusen (including the famous “Weeping Women” and allegorical figures representing Contemplation, Wonderment and Meditation, symbolizing Greek culture). The Palace remains a popular attraction for tourists and locals, and is a favorite location for weddings.
Consisting of four city blocks at the top of a hill overlooking much of San Francisco, with a number of large and architecturally distinctive mansions along the perimeter, the Alamo Square Historic District is a collection of Victorian houses, known as Painted Ladies, one of the city’s most famous assets, often shown in the foreground of panoramic pictures of the city’s downtown area, and the popular set for a number of movies, television shows and commercials. Most of these architecturally significant mansions (14,000 extant structures) date from the second half of the 19th century and are private residences. Spread throughout the city, many have been beautifully restored and ornately painted.
Near the geographic center of San Francisco, the Twin Peaks are two hills with an elevation of about 922 feet that offer unobstructed views of the city, and their summit remains mostly undeveloped, home to many natural resources and wildlife and managed and protected by the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department.
A prime location in the heart of downtown offering easy access to a variety of local San Francisco attractions, The Embarcadero, (Spanish for “the place to embark”) is the eastern waterfront and roadway of the Port of San Francisco, beginning at the intersection of Second and King streets, passing under the Oakland Bay Bridge and continuing north past the Ferry Building at Market Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Pier 39. This is the best location to host many renowned San Francisco events, including a curated public art collection featuring several larger-than-life sculptures, and a rotating on-site art exhibition.
825,863 (the second-most densely populated major city in the United States after New York City)
San Francisco is in the Pacific Standard Time zone (8 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time and 3 hours behind Eastern Standard Time).
Major shopping venues are found on Union Square and Westfield San Francisco Centre. Some hip boutiques are located in Hayes Valley, and there is a serendipity awaiting you at the amazing shopping bazaar that is Chinatown.
NO SMOKING PLEASE
Smoking regulations in public areas are becoming stricter than ever. Smoking is illegal in public buildings, sports arenas, elevators, theaters, banks, lobbies, restaurants, offices, stores, most hotel lobbies, and bars.
Suggested tipping in hotels are $1-2 per bag for porterage and $2 per day for the housemaid. Taxi drivers and restaurant staff receive an average of 15% gratuity.
The legal age for purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages is 21; proof of age is required