San Francisco is a beautiful West Coast city that has been associated with freedom and folk music since the heady days of the late 60´s. Formerly known as Yerba Buena, the newly established city exploded in size and population during the days of the Californian gold rush. In 1906, a devastating earthquake resulted in a fire which destroyed 80% of the city. Subsequently the town was rebuilt with new parks, boulevards and the current city center. As opposed to the rest of the country, San Francisco was largely unscathed by the Great Depression in the 30´s, which is when the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge were built. During this time Alcatraz Island also was established as a high security prison. The city continued to grow in population and became the center of the hippie movement and counterculture which led to its liberal outlook for which the city is still famous today. Today this metropolis is an exciting mix of interesting neighbourhoods, all with their own vibe. Hotel or hostel accommodation is widely available, as well as plenty of self-catering rentals in the form of apartments, studios or bed and breakfasts.
San Francisco´s 49ers football team is named after the California Gold Rush in 1849.
Chinatown was founded by Chinese immigrants in 1848 and as such is the oldest in the U.S.
Alcatraz was where some of America´s most cunning criminals such as Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly ended their days.
San Francisco is the setting for many books and films, such as The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, and Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock.
There are number of strange laws in this city, such as not picking up and throwing used confetti, wiping your windshield with underwear, and playing
poker in public!
Things to Do
The city centre of San Francisco is fairly small, only 6 miles across, making it very easy to explore by foot (although the hills can be quite a workout, but there´s always the cable car for the uphill stretch if necessary!). You can get an amazing view of the city and the bay from some of the elevated points such as Coit Tower. This brilliant white monument was built as a dedication to the firefighters of the city. Head back down from this energetic hike to the flatter terrain of Chinatown, where you´ll find the largest Chinese population outside of China. There is some great dim sum on offer on Stockton Street, where most of the locals do their grocery shopping. Two things anyone will associate with a Chinese restaurant, the dish Chow Mein and the fortune cookie, were actually invented in this city. Fancy checking out some more iconic sights, then head over to the Golden Gate District, where you´ll find many historical landmarks including the Golden Gate Bridge (stating the obvious!). Fishermans Wharf is a beautiful little seaside area that could cynically be labelled a tourist trap, but it really is a great place to stop off and see the sea lion colony on Pier 39, or enjoy the many street entertainers vying for your attention. For some nighttime entertainment, try one of the many shows on offer in the city. There is a good variety of performing arts available in San Francisco, and even a Half-Price Ticket Booth in the middle of Union Square which sells tickets for most shows half-price on the day of the performance. Take your pick from the Fillmore Auditorium, the San Francisco Opera, the Geary and Golden Gate theatres and many more.
San Francisco´s Food Delights
San Francisco is one of the best places nationwide for Asian food, with the aforementioned dim sum, and also sushi, being widely available. Korean, Thai and Indian is also very well represented. Vegetarians and vegans will be in paradise, and seafood lovers can enjoy fresh fish and shellfish in the Fishermans Wharf area. If you´re looking for Italian food, go to North Beach, whereas Mexican and Latin American cuisine is available in the Mission district.
The Downtown area of the city is easily reached from San Francisco International Airport with the public transport systems such as the BART and the SAMTRAM buses that both link the airport to the city. San Francisco is one of the easiest cities in the world to navigate, so once you´re there, it should be no problem to get your bearings. For an authentic San Francisco experience you should definitely take one of the cable cars (also called trolleys) which are the only moving National Monument in the United States and also offer a great view of the bay and the city. As the city is so easy to get around in, it gets much easier to pick your accommodation as everything is easily accessible no matter where your hotel or apartment. For some nautical fun, take a ferry to any number of locations in the Bay Area.
Accommodation and Apartments for Rent in San Francisco
This city has no shortage of all types of accommodation, ranging from hotels to hostels and bed and breakfasts, and also a large variety of self-catering rentals, including holiday apartments for rent and studios. Should you choose a self-catering option you get the added benefit on saving on eating out three times a day. If you choose a rental through Wimdu, there is also the charm of staying in a lived-in apartment, and see how the locals really live. Your host might also have some great insider tips on what to do and where to go in the surrounding area.