When I was a youngster, one of my father’s favorite TV shows was a crime-drama called The Streets of San Francisco. All I can remember of the show was car chases throughout the hilly and scenic streets of the west coast city by the bay.
Last month, I spent a week in San Francisco, my first ever trip to the city that I had seen so many times on the television. One week seemed just enough time to do a city of this magnitude justice; known as one of the United States most popular tourist destinations, there is so much to take in that even a week feels too little.
One of the great things about visiting San Fransico is how easily one can explore so much diversity in such a small area. It’s a dense city of neighborhoods or districts, all connected by either the cable car, tram, bus, or most easily, walking.
An historic and world famous cable car system service takes you up the steep city streets, connecting areas like Powell Street (great shopping!) with Nob and Russian Hill (great restaurants!), to Lombardi Street, also known as “the Most Crooked Street in the World (great views!).” You can hop on and off the cable car anywhere along the way, and also explore popular areas like Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf. One of the key attractions at the Fisherman’s Wharf is Pier 39, where roughly 100 sea lions reside on the docks.
If you need to get out of the city and explore the nature, go no further that the Golden Gate district, where you will find the Presidio, a 1,500 acre park of hiking trails, historic buildings, and beaches, all overlooking an expansive view of the San Francisco Bay. A popular way to explore this area is to rent bicycles from the Fisherman’s Wharf, and ride along the bike route to the park, and even over the Golden Gate bridge if you wish.
San Francisco has a unique local culture and is unlike any other city in the United States. It is particularly well-known for its liberal attitudes and open-mindedness when it comes to diversity in race, gender, sexual orientations and personal style. This high level of tolerance and acceptance are defining characteristics of the city, something that the locals are very proud of, and something that visitors can’t help but notice, regardless of where they come from.
Before I visited the city, I read an interesting warning on a tourist brochure for San Francisco, that read something like “For someone who has not been exposed to such pervasive diversity and acceptance that exists in San Francisco, it may come as a shock. Visit with an open mind.” Great advice of course for not only visiting San Francisco, but for how we should always travel.