From the soaring Transamerica Pyramid to the bustling port, San Francisco is a city of sheer excitement – and lots and lots of slopes. Prime your walking legs, try some craft beer, sourdough and take a ride on a trolley: San Francisco is well worth a trip, and this is what you should do whilst you’re there.
Where to stay
San Francisco has a whole host of accommodation options. From the mix of glamour with retro rock ’n’ roll at the Hotel Zeppelin to one of the oldest restored guest rooms in the city, Cavallo Point overlooking the San Francisco skyline, the possibilities are numerous.
The Palace Hotel sees original architecture and authentic elements together with classically inspired, modern décor – a designers vision brought to life, whilst The Marker is a 1910 built boutique hotel encapsulating glamorous early 20th-century style with modern design.
Yotel, on the other hand, is set to open in early 2018, and will take over a historic building in the heart of downtown Mid-Market district, offering 360 degree views of the city from a rooftop terrace.
Where to eat
Situated in the evolving hipster neighbourhood the Mission district, Al’s Place has created a fun, relaxing environment offering seasonal produce that highlights the locally grown foods of Northern California. Or why not try ROOH – an urban, Indian-inspired restaurant, demonstrating gastronomic techniques using the best of Californian produce and unique Indian ingredients? This restaurant’s décor adds to the experience, including velvet banquettes divided with gold mesh curtains, a long marble bar and colourful tiles throughout.
Alternatively, Flores is an upscale Mexican restaurant serving traditional shareable plates and dishes, as well as traditional Mexican cocktails all sourced from family recipes originating in Mexican states. Or keep your cuisine closer to home: Offering Californian cuisine, heavily influenced by the Hawaiian heritage. Liholiho is the only restaurant in San Francisco to be nominated in the 2016 James Beard Awards Best New Restaurant category.
Greens is one for all the vegetarians visiting, and China Live offers an interactive culinary and cultural experience whilst receiving an in-depth exploration of Greater Chinese gastronomy. And, for you real foodies, Lord Stanley has been named the No. 3 Best New Restaurant in America by Bon Appetit in 2016, and offers simple yet refined cuisine with European influences in a casual and friendly setting. What’s more, a tasting menu is offered for just $97.
Where to drink
Since opening its doors in 2009, Smuggler’s Cove has established itself as one of the top rum and exotic cocktail destinations in the world. They feature the largest rum selection in the United States, and offer a menu from over three centuries of rum history. Guests are brought into a pirate wonderland, decorated with long ship beams, rum barrels, anchors and an indoor waterfall.
Or, located at the iconic Fairmont Hotel, the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar is a tiki-themed lounge, offering a theatrical atmosphere including live entertainment, dancing around the ‘lagoon’ which was the former hotel pool, and special-effects thunder and lightning.
But our two favourites have to be House of Shields, a former gentlemen’s club in a restored old-school bar, serving high-end, hand crafted cocktails, and Novela – a literary themed cocktail bar in downtown San Francisco, with a literary hero’s inspired cocktail menu, using seasonal ingredients, in a both classic and contemporary setting. All the names of the house cocktails are taken from characters in beloved literary works.
What to do
One of the seven wonders of the modern world since its opening in 1937, the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge is perhaps San Francisco’s most famous landmark – spanning the one-mile-wide strait connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The Presidio is a 1,500-acre national park right by the Golden Gate Bridge on a former military post. It has forested areas, miles of trails, a golf course and scenic overlooks.
Alcatraz is also one of the city’s most popular attractions, located 1.5 miles from Fisherman’s Wharf. A visit to the island includes a tour of the cell house where visitors can see where the prisoners lived.
Alternatively, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art holds an internationally recognised collection of modern and contemporary art, and was the first museum on the West Coast devoted solely to 20th century art. The current collection includes over 33,000 works of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design and media arts. SFMOMA also recently underwent expansion, bringing three times more gallery space than before.
This article was written in partnership with WOW Air, who fly to San Francisco (with one stop) from £129.99 from London Gatwick. Learn more here