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San Francisco and Bay area, California

San-Francisco

Great Destination:

5

Value for Money:

2.5

Total Stars:

7.5

Personality Types that Like it Best

Liked by all personality types including pure Venturers but especially Centric-Authentics and Centric-Venturers, in that order.

Did you know….?

  • An average of 39 million vehicles cross the Golden Gate Bridge each year.
  • The 1906 earthquake killed 3,000 people and destroyed 28,000 buildings.
  • San Francisco has an estimated 14,000 Victorian homes.
  • It was the gold lust effect: The city’s population was 800 in 1848, 25,000 in 1849.
  • The city’s cable cars, which carry 7.5 million passengers a year, travel 9.5 mph.

Location, location, location

San Francisco sits on a peninsula with water on three sides: the Pacific to the west, San Francisco Bay to the east and the strait to the north — called the Golden Gate — that links the larger bodies of water. The city’s physical appeal is further enhanced by a hilly terrain and its large store of Victorian homes. Tourists love the look of California’s City by the Bay.

Other winning features are its ideal weather and the good food and wine on offer at its restaurants. Also, it’s easy to get around on public transport.

Even for the least venturesome, taking to the sea in San Francisco is pleasant. Choices include comfortable boats with narrated tours highlighting the landmarks in the city and its associated islands (Alcatraz, the most notorious) or trips to watch whales and other marine creatures. For the more venturesome, there are sailing and kayaking, plus sightseeing from the air in helicopters, biplanes and the like.

On the ground, visitors are entertained when seeking out links to this area’s fascinating past. The fine harbor was reason enough for founding a city; however, San Francisco was made by the Gold Rush, which brought settlers — and crime and mayhem. Some of the flavor of the past is captured on the best of the walking tours. However, the much-loved cable cars, dating from 1873, are the most tangible reminder of 19th century life here.

In its modern iteration, San Francisco is noted for its performing arts center, museums and other similar facilities. Its ballet company is the nation’s oldest (1933), and its opera company is the oldest major company in the West (1923).

Asian-Americans account for nearly a third of the population; as a result, the city has the country’s largest Chinatown, and tourists regard it as a must-see.

Food and wine top visitors’ lists of reasons to come to town. Restaurants are noted for quality food, particularly given the city’s access to fresh produce and seafood. In addition, the city is a short drive from the Napa/Sonoma wine-growing region, an area that continues to grow in stature in the world of oenophiles.

Things to do for Venturers

  • See the sights from atop a bicycle seat. You can do this on your own or on a guided tour. Itineraries can include riding over the Golden Gate Bridge, then returning to San Francisco by ferry.
  • Choose a water-level view of San Francisco Bay in a kayak. If you are a novice at this, you can join a guided excursion.
  • Stick your neck out and take the Vampire Tour of San Francisco.
  • Attend a tasting of sakes and plum wines at Takara Sake USA Inc. in Berkeley. An on-site museum highlights the making of sake.
  • Book a walking tour from a company called Foot! The guides are comedians and the itinerary choices look like these: Nude, Lewd and Crude: The Rise of Strippers, Comedians and Beats in North Beach and Hobnobbing With Gobs of Snobs: The Stinkin’ Rich and Dirty Money That Built Nob Hill. There is more where those came from.
  • Charter a sailboat at Pier 39 for your own tour in San Francisco’s waters. Or, sail the bay in a sailing catamaran, also available at Pier 39.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Reserve your space on a boat to Alcatraz Island, site of the infamous prison and now a part of the National Park Service.
  • Spend at least a day at Fisherman’s Wharf. At the Aquarium of the Bay, walk through 300 feet of crystal-clear tunnels, a journey that replicates an underwater dive for the view of the bay’s waters and its marine life.  Then, there is the rest of Pier 39 with its views of the city, the antics of resident California sea lions, street performers (the human kind), plus more than 110 shops and 13 restaurants.
  • Sign on for a cooking class at the California Culinary Academy, then let others cook for you when you make the rounds of top restaurants.
  • Choose a guided sightseeing tour with the conveyance in mind. Options include a Land Rover, fire engine, GPS-guided GoCar, Jeep Wrangler and vintage touring car. Or, travel by land and by sea in a Duck, a refurbished World War II amphibious landing craft.
  • Picnic and hike in Golden Gate Park. Make it a horticulture day, and view the flowers and other plants in the Conservatory of Flowers and the San Francisco Botanical Garden, both in the park.
  • Take a Napa Valley wine tour. Or, do some wine tasting without leaving the city, at Wattle Creek Winery on Fisherman’s Wharf. There are several places for tastings in and near Oakland, as well.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Take a cruise to Farallon Islands, a marine sanctuary for endangered whales, white sharks, dolphins, elephant seals and orcas (large dolphins).
  • Take the free tour of city hall. Look for more free things to do with the family.
  • Ride the cable cars.
  • Choose a walking tour in the city where a walking tour could seem like a climbing tour! However, one vendor calls itself On the Level San Francisco Walking Tours (www.onthelevelsf.com) for a reason.  In any case, there are plenty of walking tours, often focusing on a neighborhood, its history and architecture, such as the fashionable Nob Hill or Pacific Heights. Others feature Chinatown, Haight-Ashbury (of hippie fame) or South Beach.
  • Choose a narrated boat tour of San Francisco Bay, either in the daytime or at sunset.
  • Learn about beer brewing during a free tour of the Anheuser-Busch Consumer Hospitality Center in Fairfield, across the bay, then sample the goods.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the San Francisco Travel Association at www.sanfrancisco.travel