Stunning, charismatic, innovative, compassionate, and multicultural, San Francisco is one big swoon of a city that manages to be both classic and counterculture. It's the city that birthed the Summer of Love 50 years ago and spearheads tech revolutions today. It's no wonder why so many leave their hearts here.
When to Go
Summer sees hordes of travelers from around the world, but don't expect California beach weather, thanks to Karl the Fog, a very persistent force of nature. Fall (September-November) welcomes in the warmest temperatures and sunniest weather year-round. Count on fewer crowds and mild weather in spring, too.
The streets of America's oldest Chinatown fill with floats, dragons, and colorful costumes for Lunar New Year each February. Mexican heritage is on display in the Mission District, especially at a family-friendly festival held on the Saturday closest to Cinco de Mayo. Droves of rainbow revelers celebrate diversity at San Francisco Pride the last full weekend of June. The popular Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festival is free, held the first weekend of October in Golden Gate Park.
What to Eat
San Francisco's rich Mexican heritage means locals are loco for Mexican food, especially when it comes to the forearm-size "mission style" burritos found at beloved joints El Farolito and Taqueria La Cumbre. Cioppino, a rich seafood stew, is San Francisco's signature dish. Tie on a bib and tuck into Sotto Mare's "Best Damn Crab Cioppino" for an authentic taste.
Souvenir to Take Home
Sweet memories can be found inside a box of Recchiuti Confections chocolates that feature images of some of the city's famous landmarks. Anchor Brewing has a gift shop at the brewery selling t-shirts, glasses, and even barrel-aged bottled beers not available anywhere else. At the Warming Hut on Crissy Field, cards, posters, books, and gifts are emblazoned with iconic images of San Francisco, and proceeds benefit the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.
Sustainable Travel Tip
Walk! San Francisco is made for hoofing it. Don't worry about those hills-the reward is amazing views of the bridges and bay, Alcatraz and Angel Islands, along with sights and sounds otherwise missed through a car window. Pick a neighborhood and hit the ground walking!
Crissy Field is not just a place where locals go to walk their dogs, run, bike, indoor trampoline, and picnic. It also offers up the best view of the Golden Gate Bridge. The suspension stunner makes a drool-worthy backdrop for photos, especially in the early morning, when the rising sun paints the bridge especially brilliant.