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Painted ladies.San Francisco | © Bernard Spragg. NZ / Flickr
Painted ladies.San Francisco | © Bernard Spragg. NZ / Flickr

10 Reasons Why You Should Visit San Francisco

Picture of Justine McGrath
Updated: 9 June 2017

The magic of San Francisco has called to visitors like a siren song since its founding in 1776. The city, shrouded in fog, is home to architectural wonders, quirky residents, and enough attractions to keep anyone entertained. Need more convincing to visit the City by the Bay? Read on for 10 reasons why S.F. should be your next vacation destination.

The food scene

There is no doubt that many people travel to a new city in order to try the local cuisine. Sure, you want to see the Golden Gate Bridge and walk through Dolores Park, but those parts of your day will be punctuated by stuffing your face. San Francisco is not only home to gourmet restaurants but also kitschy casual food. Whether you feast on delicious vegan delights (be sure to give Gracias Madre a try) or go home with a belly full of Ghirardelli, you’re bound to leave happy.

Japantown

San Francisco has a well-loved Chinatown, which also just happens to be the biggest one in the U.S., but Japantown is just as endearing—although perhaps lesser known. You could spend an entire day slurping down ramen, taking a dip at a traditional Japanese spa, or stocking up on adorable and authentic Asian goods at Daiso.

It’s walkable

On a tight budget or itching to get outside? San Francisco is the city for you! Sure, there are hills galore, but just think of those gentle slopes as a naturally occurring StairMaster. Your buns will thank you, and you can see nearly every part of the city within a few days. Don’t let this be a deterrent for those with physical disabilities; San Francisco is also praised for its abundance of public transportation and rideshare apps.

The music

Have you ever heard of Jefferson Airplane, Journey, the Dead Kennedys, or the weirdly pleasing beats of THIRD EYE BLIND? Yes, all this musical genius comes from San Francisco. In addition to launching some of the most iconic American bands of the century, they also have killer contemporary venues. Bob along to sweet beats at the Fillmore, rock out at the Great American Music Hall, or get your indie sway on at The Chapel. Furthermore, if you’re in the mood for an annual affair, you can have your pick of Outside Lands, Treasure Island, or Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.

The great outdoors

Not only is the City by the Bay snuggled up against the Pacific Ocean, but there are tons of other sights for nature lovers to enjoy. Take a stroll through the seemingly endless pathways of Presidio Park, sunbathe in the buff at Baker Beach, or stretch out and make friends with colorfully dressed strangers in Dolores Park. Part of what makes San Francisco so magical is the ways in which the city mixes urban with natural.

The nightlife

Shake your booty at a gay club in the Castro, swill overpriced craft cocktails in the Mission, and dance to an incredible DJ at a club inside SOMA. There are endless nightlife options in San Francisco, from tiki bars to top-tier nightclubs. All you have to do is decide which can of worms you’d like to open, and before you know it, you’ll be strolling home at 5 a.m. with a Mission burrito in one hand and a stranger’s phone number in the other.

The sports teams

Admittedly, sports aren’t for everyone, but we can all appreciate an enthusiastic atmosphere and garlic fries, right? Home to the San Francisco Giants, the Golden State Warriors, and the San Francisco 49ers, your bases will be covered year-round. Root for the home team and sip on a quality craft beer inside the stadium of your choosing.

The city has personality

Where else in the world can you be flying down Seward Street Slides, ascending a mosaic tiled staircase, and visiting an island prison on the same day? Not only does San Francisco boast strange attractions, but it’s home to an abundance of street art too. Its residents are known for letting their personalities take center stage, and weirdness is encouraged during the annual Bay to Breakers race. When you do venture to the City by the Bay, be sure to pack your freak flag—it’ll have plenty of time to fly.

…and culture too

Are you a self-proclaimed museum buff? Then get thee to S.F.! Modern art lovers will “ooh” and “aah” at the SFMOMA and the de Young. Not to mention the scientific scenery at the California Academy of the Sciences and the Exploratorium. If those venues sound too touristy for your taste, check out the Cartoon Art Museum, the Cable Car Museum, The Beat Museum, or Musée Mécanique!

The people

A large part of what makes San Francisco so incredible to visit is its diverse inhabitants. You’ll find people of every race, religion, gender, and sexuality vibing in the city—and be in awe of the amazing community they’ve built there. Although the city can feel urban and intimidating at times, you’ll notice that people in S.F. are friendly, funky, and want to have a good time—just like you!