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Things to do in San Francisco

Catch a show at the beautiful Beaux-Arts Opera House

Connoisseurs of culture are spoilt for choice with three major venues, the Herbst Theatre, Davies Symphony Hall and War Memorial Opera House, all part of the San Francisco Art Center (tel: +1 415 621 6600; www.sfwmpac.org). If you can only plump for one, attend the opera or ballet at the stately Opera House.

Explore breathtaking scenery with a hike

San Francisco's surroundings are perfect for trekking, with a temperature that doesn't bake and a wealth of forests, woodlands and hills. If you like coastal scenery, the Batteries to Bluffs trail along the Presidio is unrivalled, whilst Mount Diablo's Grand Loop has a great name and astounding Bay Area views.

Hold your breath with a deep-sea dive

If you're hoping to nose up to tropical fish, think again. Most tours happen out of the Bay Area, where the waters are colder, meaning you have to work that little harder for a rewarding dive. Instead, head to the established spots around Monterey. Bamboo Reef (tel: +1 415 362 6694; www.bambooreef.com) offers diving tours.

Swing by San Francisco's public golf courses

Even though San Francisco's climate doesn't exactly match the Californian ideal, golfing is still a popular pursuit thanks to some excellent public courses. The city's Park and Recreation Department (tel: +1 415 831 2700; www.sfrecpark.org/parks-open-spaces/golf-courses) maintain six, whilst golfers who don't mind a drive should head south to the famous Pebble Beach (tel: +1 800 877 0597; www.pebblebeach.com) course near Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Zip across the Golden Gate Bridge on a mountain bike

Two-wheel fans are spoilt for choice when it comes to exploring San Francisco, with mountain biking the perfect pursuit. Hire from Bike and View (tel: +1 415 563 8616; www.bikeandview.com) and start your ride by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, a mountain in terms of engineering feat, before tackling the Tennessee Valley (www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/tennessee_valley) and Marin headland trails.

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Featured Hotels


The Scarlet Huntingdon

Visible from much of the city, this luxury retreat sits opposite Grace Cathedral at the highest point of Nob Hill. All 134 guestrooms are individually decorated and each has great views across the city. Chandeliers and plush upholstery fill the public areas, and if you can tear yourself away from the vistas, the hotel also has its own spa.

Harbor Court Hotel

Perched on the city's eastern coastline, the Harbor Court offers an unrivalled view of the Bay Bridge. Its 131 rooms contain an entertainment centre, high-speed Wi-Fi and a moderately sized sitting room. Sleeping quarters combine traditional and contemporary furnishings, and some beds are canopied. Windows are double-glazed to block out traffic noise and Ozumo Japanese restaurant next door offers room service.

Seaside Inn

Close to the Seaside would be a more apt name, as this motel-style place is several blocks inland. Nevertheless, it is only a 10-minute walk from the attractions of the Marina District. Rooms are simple but very comfortable, with both breakfast and parking free. Moreover, the attractive neighbourhood of Cow Hollow, filled with trendy bars and restaurants, is only a short stroll away. Book in advance for the best deals.

Clift Hotel

Nearly a century old, the Clift is a local landmark set amid the theatre district. Once known for its striking red panelled interior, it is now adored for its Philippe Starck makeover. The designer waved his creative wand back in 2001 and turned the Clift into one of the must-see hotels in San Francisco. Proof lies in the Redwood Room bar, where locals fond of a little luxury gather. The 372 guest rooms are small but elegantly decorated in shades of violet and grey. Egyptian cotton sheets, Wi-Fi and in-room massage and spa services add to the luxury.

Twin Peaks

Don't fret, this hotel has nothing to do with David Lynch, but is named after its neighbourhood between Lower Haight and The Castro. It offers one of the few acceptable budget options within easy reach of the downtown districts. Rooms are basic, and if you really want to save money you'll have to share a bathroom, but you can't argue with the price.

Orchard Hotel

One of San Francisco's smaller boutique hotels, the Orchard has 104 guest rooms, including nine suites. Luxuries include quality linens and toiletries, Balinese wood, black granite bathroom countertops, plush bathrobes, surround-sound DVD and CD players, Internet and mini-bars. Complimentary European breakfast buffet is served downstairs.