San Francisco

With a reputation for its laid back and accepting nature San Francisco is as popular today as it was in the 60’s when flower power reigned and hedonism was encouraged.

It may have toned down the free love but this Californian city retains all the positivity and openness that made it a haven for the free thinkers with fire in their souls.

There is more to San Francisco than this frivolous side though, this is a city that takes culture seriously and is fast becoming known as the foodie capital of America with the discerning inhabitants demanding that only the best of fresh produce be served to them – the free spirit may still rule the city but this free spirit demands more than just flowers in its hair.

If San Francisco is all about the alternative lifestyle then the place that you have to stay is on a houseboat in Sausalito, converted from steamboat ferries these were the ultimate accommodation in the hippy era with many well known faces spending time on them fuelling their creativity. The view from the estuary across to the city is one of calm, and with the houseboats having undergone huge refurbishments to turn them into luxury quarters this is the perfect base for your San Francisco holiday.

Slightly more conventional is the range of hotels within the city, although these do count some rather alternative and almost eccentric dwellings amongst their numbers,hotels like the Hotel del Sol with its lively interior, saline pool and green credentials or the  Hotel Tomo with its Japanese animé themed spaces that attract a rather quirky crowd.

From hearty comfort food to fine dining, award winning wines to elaborate cocktails and from Asia to South America, the only limits on the gastronomy in San Francisco is the diner, whatever you want it is certain to be available – the crowd is a tough one to please and only the good prosper, eat at established restaurants and you’ll never go far wrong.

Spruce on Sacramento Street is a real treat, the restaurant may appear informal but the food is absolutely stand out with its emphasis on local produce eaten only when in season; the menu changes regularly to reflect the changes in the seasons, the meat is all ethically raised and the cooking style is very much modern American – this may not be a budget restaurant but here you really do get what you pay for.

Perfect for those colder days is the California Academy of Sciences with its planetarium, aquarium and natural history museum, there are constantly changing displays as well as some excellent permanent fixtures; for something a bit different the weekly evening event always offers something new – each week is themed and with its adult only admission gives a grown up spin on some old favourites.

The iconic rock that housed Alcatraz prison is one of the most famous sights in all of San Francisco, sat in the middle of the bay and once home to some of the most notorious criminals in American history it is now a well known tourist attraction; for a really eerie experience night tours are available but be warned they aren’t for the faint hearted.

San Francisco is a pleasant destination no matter which time of year you choose to visit, the weather even in the summer months is never particularly warm but nor are the winter month particularly cold (just wetter!) – it is said that the premium weather occurs during September and October when the warmest days of the year are usually recorded but like everything else in San Francisco the weather can be unpredictable with a definite lean towards the unexpected.

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