San Francisco

San Francisco
© Culture Trip / Greta Samuel

Insider Travel Guide to San Francisco

Foggy and progressive, San Francisco is the crown jewel of Northern California. This compact, hilly city at the center of the wider San Francisco Bay Area has witnessed many of America’s most influential cultural moments, from hippie counterculture in the ’60s to the dot-com revolution at the turn of the last century and today’s tech boom. Though characterized by its history of resistance, San Francisco is struggling against the pull of a tech-driven future. The impact of gentrification can be seen in the city’s soaring house prices and the rapid transformation of neighborhoods like SoMa and the Mission, where the friction between old-school San Franciscans and the influx of young professionals is palpable.

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San Francisco attractions and sightseeing

Even with all its hills, San Francisco’s small size makes it a walkable city. Those with calves of steel are rewarded with a showcase of its architectural splendor; the view from Alamo Square – brightly colored Victorian houses against a backdrop of Downtown skyscrapers – is particularly iconic. Of course, taking in the Art Deco masterpiece that is the Golden Gate Bridge is a must on any San Francisco trip, as is a visit to the former prison on Alcatraz Island. Every neighborhood has a story to tell. The heart of the ’60s hippie revolution, Haight-Ashbury, is the place to go to relive the Summer of Love all year round, while the nearby Castro district is one of America’s first gay neighborhoods and a magnet for LGBTQ+ travellers to this day. North Beach, the birthplace of the Beatnik movement and home of the City Lights bookstore, is equally historic. SF also boasts the oldest and largest Chinatown in North America, which explains the city’s reputation for great dim sum.

Neighborhoods in San Francisco