Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge / iStock.com / maislam
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Painted Ladies at Alamo Square
Painted Ladies at Alamo Square / iStock.com / somchaij
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Pier 39
Pier 39 / iStock.com / elf0724
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Grant Avenue, Chinatown
Grant Avenue, Chinatown / iStock.com / Alec Owen-Evans
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Dolores Park
Dolores Park / iStock.com / jejim
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Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park / iStock.com / coleong
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San Francisco
Port
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

Winding streets and busy wharfs, balmy days and sea salt tang mixing with the scent of newly minted money, San Francisco has gone from a NorCal culture capital to a dot-com paradise. The City By the Bay is decidedly tourist-friendly, and the new $100 million cruise ship terminal (with climate-controlled boarding areas and a passenger elevator) makes it even more hospitable.

What We Love

Golden Gate Park: This park seems to span almost the full length of the city and is as beloved by residents as it is visitors. The 1,017-acre expanse has many magical places, including the Japanese Tea Garden, Strawberry Hill, and the aquarium.

Chinatown: The oldest Chinatown in the country, this neighborhood feels totally foreign, even while welcoming thousands of tourists a day. Get dim sum, peek into the alleyways, and explore the exotic herb shops.

Best Known For

Golden Gate Bridge: Whether resplendent under clear skies or partially obscured in fog, this iconic red bridge is a must for the photo albums and has sidewalks for pedestrians and bikers.

Pier 39: More than the seafood, sailboats, and street performers, the must-see attraction here is the sea lions. Sunbathing, sniffing the air, slipping off the buoys for a swim, these charming creatures beg for your attention.

Who It's Best For

Wine Aficionados: Bottles from California's top wineries don't have to travel far to get here. And you’ll be surprised how affordable the low end is.

Big Spenders: Whether you’re looking for art or jewelry, independent designers or obscure imports, the world’s best is right at your fingertips. Plan on blowing your budget and not regretting it a bit.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Bye-Bye, Bohemia: The tech boom in and around San Fran brought an influx of new residents (and a higher cost of living), moving out a lot of the Haight-Ashbury hippies, as well as the funky vibe the city was known for.

Lena Katz
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger