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San Francisco tours and excursions

San Francisco tours

Boat tours

A boat tour of the Bay is a must, providing perhaps the best panorama of the city and a unique view of the Golden Gate Bridge. A number of tour operators offer departures from Fisherman's Wharf. Blue and Gold Fleet runs a daily narrated cruise, with regular departures from Pier 39. Tours last around one hour.

Tel: +1 415 705 8200.
Website: http://www.blueandgoldfleet.com

Culinary tours

Local Tastes of the City Tours savours the best of San Francisco's culinary traditions. Three-hour walking tours experience a behind-the-scenes look at local bakeries, cafes, restaurants, and the places where locals shop. Sample fresh bread, pastries, chocolates, truffles, coffees, dim sum, seafood and olive oils, or watch artisans at work.

Tel: +1 888 358 8687.
Website: http://www.sffoodtour.com

San Francisco excursions

Sonoma Valley Wine Country

San Francisco is delightfully positioned within less than an hour's drive of northern California's famous wine region. The Sonoma and Napa Valleys are the most travelled by wine lovers, and hold a blend of elegant lodging, superb food, choice wines and dazzling scenery. Less crowded than the Napa Valley, Sonoma has more than 400 wineries to visit in rolling hills and fragrant vineyards that stretch westwards to the Pacific Ocean.

Tel: +1 707 996 1090.
Website: http://www.sonomavalley.com

Monterey and Carmel

Even if you're not a driver, it's a shame to miss out on the incredible coast road that makes up the Pacific Coast Highway, or Highway 1. A two-hour drive south will bring you to the Monterey Peninsula, home to some spectacular coastline and attractions such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Carmel-by-the-Sea is known for its former mayor (a certain Mr Clint Eastwood), and its historic mission and great downtown shopping.

Tel: +1 831 646 3799 (Monterey); +1 831 620 2000 (Carmel).
Website: http://www.monterey.org

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Featured Hotels

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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.

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.