What is it about San Francisco that leads so many people to name the city by the bay as their favorite city?
Why does Tony Bennett singing “I left my heart in San Francisco” strike a chord with both people who have and those who have not ever visited? Peruse these pages to find out!
The City, as it is locally known, is certainly esthetically pleasing and unique in many ways. There are the famous hills, beautiful Golden Gate Bridge and SF/Oakland Bay Bridge, crooked streets, an historic Alcatraz Island prison and huge bay, Victorian homes and mansions, Fisherman's Wharf, Cable Cars and ethnic neighborhoods.
San Francisco has been described as America's most European city, though I imagine that those familiar with New Orleans might argue. In fact, primarily because of its location on the west coast, there are likely more Asians living in San Francisco than Europeans.
North Beach retains much of its Italian flavor, while nearby Chinatown is one of the largest communities of its kind outside of the mainland. Its residents continue to expand into neighborhoods throughout The City and swell a New Chinatown in the inner Richmond.
The Japanese influence on San Francisco never regained the impact it had before forced internment during WWII followed by redevelopment in the 1950's but Japantown still thrives and the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park attracts thousands of visitors.
Meanwhile Little Saigon is a growing Vietnamese community. Add the Mission to the mix, an area that has evolved from Native American hunting grounds to Mexican Rancheros to a working class neighborhood of German, Irish and Italian immigrants to today's predominance of Mexican and Central American immigrants.
While San Francisco has been a top financial center since the Gold Rush and sports an active Financial District The City also attracts visitors because of of a generally laid back atmosphere and a 'live and let live' attitude exemplified by the Haight—which retains a bit of the '60's peace movement and rock 'n' roll era vibe—and the Castro where the SF gay community hase taken root.
San Francisco Bay Area
In addition to all that The City has to offer there are a number of world class attractions and cities in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
A healthy majority of visitors to San Francisco also visit the California Wine Country in Napa Valley and Sonoma County. California Redwoods can be viewed in nearby Muir Woods National Monument.
Yosemite National Park to the east or Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur to the south on CA's Central Coast are each close enough for a day trip.
Across the San Francisco Bay, Sausalito to the north and East Bay cities Berkeley and Oakland each have their own personality worth getting to know.
San Francisco Tours
With so many attractions to visit and areas to see, sightseeing tours provide a great way to get the most from a Bay Area vacation. A great variety of options are available from open top double-decker bus tours of the city to cruises on the bay, wine tours and more including combinations with Muir Woods and Sausalito or wine tasting. Day trips to Yosemite or Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea are popular.
Package Tours (professional guide, ground transportation and hotel accommodations) departing San Francisco visit locations as far away as Yosemite NP, Monterey, Hearst Castle, Disneyland and Universal Studios, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone NP, Grand Teton National Park and more.
So what is it that attracts so many people to visit or live in San Francisco?
Probably all of the above and even the unique weather which produces cooling fog in summer. Many first time visitors feel that San Francisco is an old friend from having seen the many movies and TV shows that have been shot here.
Of course many people are aware of at least some of San Francisco's exciting history such as the Gold Rush or the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.
Follow the links in the blue column to the right for more San Francisco neighborhood and attraction information and photos. Whether you are planning a visit, only dreaming of one or if you are lucky enough to live here you should find plenty to expand your understanding and enjoyment of The City and the San Francisco Bay area.
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Website and all photos copyright © 2001–2014 Lee W. Nelson