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San Francisco Travel Guide

Photo: Amanda Marsalis

Photo: Amanda Marsalis

Photo: Amanda Marsalis

Photo: Wendy Ball & Dara Albanese

Photo: David Nicolas

Photo: Justin Lew

Photo: Wendy Ball & Dara Albanese

Photo: Amanda Marsalis

Photo: David Nicolas

Photo: Lyndsey Matthews

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You could spend all your time in San Francisco strolling the familiar visitor zones of Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39, hopping the crowded tour boat to Alcatraz, or taking snapshots on a cable car, and have a perfectly blissful time-few other cities, after all, can match this town's charms, even the obvious ones. But what makes San Francisco so incomparable is the sheer breadth of its neighborhoods, its distinct pockets of ever-more-local culture. Within a relatively compact 40 square miles one can find showy Victorian manses and elegant Art Deco skyscrapers; the sprawling, verdant oasis of Golden Gate Park, along with some shockingly good museums; and funky boho bastions filled with independent bookstores and galleries, free-trade coffee shops, and indie-designer ateliers. Oh, and restaurants where everyone's wearing jeans (if that)-but where the food, much of it made with sustainable, local ingredients, is simply sublime.

Don't Miss

  • Strolling polyglot Clement Street, in the inner Richmond District. Known for its ethnic restaurants, it’s also got design-kid galleries, a boutique selling French tchotchkes, a bespoke-shoe salon, and the city’s biggest used-book store, Green Apple.

  • Seeing an obscure-but-riveting documentary at the Roxie, a classic theater in the Mission, and following it up with dinner at Foreign Cinema restaurant (which does indeed screen films on the wall of its courtyard).

  • The annual Bay to Breakers footrace, held every May. Some 75,000 runners and walkers, many in costume (and a few in their birthday suits), tackle this 7.46-mile course—which also happens to be the city’s biggest (moving) party.

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