Splendid San Francisco

By Hannah Wallace December 31, 2008

The Bay beckons visitors to San Francisco (, where sports, shopping and one-of-a-kind attractions are set against spectacular views. Check forecasts, because the weather can be unpredictable any time of the year.

SEE: Serve time at Alcatraz Island, which has a foreboding presence in the bay. A brief ferry ride delivers tourists to “The Rock” for a gripping audio tour, narrated by former prisoners and guards. Head to Golden Gate Park and visit the California Academy of Sciences, which reopened in September in a dazzling green building designed by famed architect Renzo Piano. Take in more bay views and San Francisco Giants baseball action at AT&T Park. Hike the hilly streets to reach the “Painted Ladies,” colorful Victorian homes with breathtaking city views, and don’t miss a ride on the city’s famed cable cars. Walk or drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, and be inspired by the massive redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument.

STAY: Hotels such as the San Francisco Marriott make it easy to forego a rental car and walk to restaurants, shops and attractions, especially in the jam-packed SoMa (South of Market) and

Union Square
areas. Next to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is the luxe St. Regis Hotel, or try The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco on Nob Hill or the Palomar, a luxury boutique hotel.

DINE: Seafood is a must. Restaurants fill touristy Fisherman’s Wharf, but take a detour to Swan’s Oyster Depot in the Nob Hill section. Expect to wait for a stool at the counter, but the family-run eatery’s fresh crab salad is worth it. Affordable and authentic restaurants fill the city’s Italian section, North Beach, and of course Chinatown. Indulge in a hot fudge sundae and watch the crowds at

Ghirardelli Square

SHOP: Revel in the concentration of department stores, galleries and luxury retailers in the

Union Square
area, including Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Giorgio Armani. More than 180 stores and restaurants are encompassed in the Westfield San Francisco Centre.

INSIDER’S TIP: For half-price theater tickets, tour tickets and transit passes, check out the TIX Bay Area booth at

Union Square

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