Gold diggers, boho artists, leftie activists and techie whizz-kids have all left their mark on San Francisco, a seaside metropolis overflowing with boundless innovation in a mind-blowing setting.
The undulating City by the Bay has a prime spot between the Pacific Ocean and Sierra Nevada mountains to the east and west and redwood forests and the California desert to the north and south.
One of the USA’s most walkable cities, San Francisco shows off a stellar line-up of iconic sights. Wait for a window in the city’s favourite weather (fog, of course) and catch a glimpse of the vermilion towers of the Golden Gate Bridge. Hop on a ferry from Fisherman’s Wharf and pay a visit to Al Capone’s west-coast pad behind bars, Alcatraz. Embrace your tourist status and throw caution (and potentially a lot more) to the wind trundling over the city’s rollercoaster hills on the edge of a cable car.
The city’s neighbourhoods all tell their own stories, from the hotbed of politics that made Haight-Ashbury what it is, to the bohemia of the Mission and the Tenderloin, to the culinary wonder of Chinatown and the understated affluence of Nob Hill. San Francisco has one of the world’s oldest and largest gay neighbourhoods in the Castro, a testament to the accepting nature and spirit of civic acceptance that exists here.
The famous, glorious vineyards of the Napa and Sonoma wine regions ensure weekend escapes are part of the San Francisco experience too. If you don’t have time to visit them, pull up a stool in one of the city’s slick wine tasting rooms and sip a few glasses.
When the fog and cold sets in, it’s time to head indoors, to jazz venues, cosy restaurants, old-school saloons and micro-distilleries.
The downside? San Francisco’s stratospheric success means the arty types who gave the city its creative vibe can barely afford to live here anymore. So if you’re inspired to launch own start-up, bring a wealthy sponsor and a back-up plan.