San Francisco Hotels & Holidays
USA, North America
Originally the site of a Spanish fort, the gold rush of the late nineteenth century caused the population of San Francisco to bloom from one thousand to twenty-five thousand. Built near the San Andreas fault, an earthquake and resulting fire destroyed the city in 1906, only to see it quickly rebuilt for a world fair less than a decade later. Today the city is known as a bastion of liberal ideology; and as home to its famous cable cars. With over fifty hills, it is a city of many different neighbourhoods. It is a prime tourist destination, but not in the classical Californian sense. Chilly summer fogs mean the summers remain quite cool, and visitors to beaches are cautioned to remain out of the water due to strong currents.
San Francisco Holidays Planner
San Francisco is known for its Victorian and modern architecture, and combined with its many neighbourhoods, these are good reasons to book a walking tour of the city. The history of the city is so colourful and dramatic, that it is great to get a first-hand introduction to the area from a local guide. There are many unique stories particular to different neighbourhoods' histories about the gold rush or the earthquake that have not yet made it into any guidebook.
Across the Bay, you can take the Golden Gate Ferry for a ferry ride of a few minutes to Sausalito. A small, picturesque community of less than ten thousand residents, it is known for its picturesque waterfront, appealing souvenir shops, and floating homes. It is certainly worth a day trip.
Back in San Francisco, there is another water-based tour you can take to historic Alcatraz. This island was home to a federal prison until 1963 and today its facilities are operated by the National Park Service and the public can take tours of the old prison.
There are many museums in San Francisco that are worth visiting while you are in the vicinity. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art houses a sculpture garden, many exhibits, and a store where all the proceeds of products sold go to the artists. There is also the Museum of the African Diaspora that features talks, storytelling and poetry. The only museum of its kind on the west coast, the Cartoon Museum is also a lot of fun.
Some interesting parks and outdoor areas include Golden Gate Park and the Presidio. Golden Gate Park at over 1000 acres is home to an artificial waterfall, a buffalo paddock, and an aquarium. The Presidio, a military base, has miles of hiking trails, and – due to its long history – military ruins that can be visited. Legendary Ghirardelli Square is also a great place to visit by Fisherman's Wharf and is a mainstay of any vacation in San Francisco.
Other activities you can pursue include biking at Golden Gate Park, or mountain biking at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge. This area is actually the birthplace of the sport of mountain biking. You can also take a whale watching tour in the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Whales you might see include the gray whale, the humpback, and the blue whale.