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A San Francisco City Guide - cool culture, hip hangouts, and iconic attractions in bustling bohemian metropolis

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San Francisco resonates with a cool, quirky, and vibrant culture. From the Latin-influenced eateries and weird stores of the historic Mission area, to the ultra-trendy Haight and affluent paradise of Pacific Heights, there’s an area suited for everyone. Visit the museums and art galleries in the centre, and stop by the iconic Golden Gate Bridge for spectacular views across the glistening bay waters. Meanwhile, the city's green spaces are perfect for chilling out in.
Where to shop

 

 

Retail in San Francisco ranges from the most ritzy up-market designer stores to the most off-beat boutiques. Union Square is the place for splurging shoppers seeking top brands, with dozens of vast clothing stores surrounding the wide stone plaza, and a sublime white marble shopping center nearby. Head to the Haight for a hipster haven, and rifle through the ultra-cool records stores and vintage clothing shops. For a mad retail melting-pot visit the Mission, and marvel at the mix of weird independent stores and mouthwatering Mexican food-trucks.

 

Where to eat

 

 

If you crave some authentic Italian cuisine, then head to North Beach, known as Little Italy. Here, a range of upscale restaurants and budget eateries hand-toss pizza dough, pastas, and refreshing salads. Whether you dine in style or stop for a quick bite, you’re sure to experience the best of San Francisco’s Italian food. The Mission is renowned for its Latin food influence, but also offers a wide selection of artisan restaurants and cafés, much like The Haight. To sample some of the city’s freshest seafood, check out the chic restaurants along the Marina, and treat yourself to a bread-bowl of clam chowder with a side helping of spectacular views.

 

What to see and do

 

 

Stop by the glowing, copper-colored Golden Gate Bridge and you can take in the full, unforgettable sweep of the glistening Golden Gate Strait waters and the sparkling city skyline beyond. Nearby, you’ll discover Golden Gate Park, a huge, sweeping stretch of green space consisting of flower gardens, tranquil lakes and play areas for the kids. If the park doesn’t satisfy your hunger for natural beauty, then head across the bridge to the Mount Tamalpais State Park, a lush hilly area where hiking trails criss-cross through the forests, leading to curved coves and hidden sandy beaches.

 

Travel tips

 

 

Getting around San Francisco can be a little confusing at first, due to its complex cross-grid system and lack of left-turn lanes on the key city streets. Once you get the hang of it, driving is an easy way to get around, but the city’s reliable bus system is just as smooth. San Francisco is a great walking city, with a mix of architectural styles to gaze at, stores to stop at, and unbeatable views at the top of steep hills - but be watchful when walking at night around the outskirts of the central areas.