If you come to San Francisco, summertime will be a love-in there.” Nothing encapsulates the Bay Area more than the popular song, San Francisco by Scott McKenzie back in 1967. Known to be the cultural, commercial, and financial centre of Northern California, San Francisco is one of the most popular destinations one should travel to when visiting the United States.

But what is it about San Francisco that allows it to attract numerous tourists every year? When it comes to its sights, nothing beats staring at the Golden Gate Bridge at Crissy Field, which gives you an unfettered view of the iconic bridge. It connects San Francisco to Marin County, located just north of the San Francisco Bay.

Another popular landmark that many would visit is Alcatraz Island, which was a federal prison from 1934 to 1963. Ever since its closure, Alcatraz Island has been known as a national historic landmark. Visitors who plan to pay a visit to Alcatraz Island can hop onto a 15-minute ferry ride from Fisherman’s Wharf.

But these popular tourist destinations are not the only reason San Francisco is such a vibrant and exciting city to visit. It is also known for its many streets and districts, all of which carry its own identity and culture, which is unique to only San Francisco.

Haight-Ashbury

Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco

A popular district in San Francisco, Haight-Ashbury is a historic neighbourhood known for being the birthplace of the hippie counterculture in the 1960s. What was most popular about Haight-Ashbury was the Summer of Love social gathering that took place in 1967. It drew an estimated 100,000 people during the summer with majority of the attendees being hippies.

A mural of Jimi Hendrix on the wall of the apartment where the late musician used to live in Haight-Ashbury

Much like the rest of San Francisco, the architecture surrounding Haight-Ashbury carries a heavy Victorian influence. One popular house that many would visit Haight-Ashbury for is at the old apartment of Jimi Hendrix. The iconic rock star took up residence at the corner of Haight and Ashbury for a few years in the 1960s, which has since come to be known as the Jimi Hendrix Red House. While one cannot enter the premises, marvelling at the many murals painted in honour of the rockstar’s death is a sight on its own.

Painted Ladies, Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco

Still the home of hippie counterculture, Haight-Ashbury has many great attractions paying tribute to its hippie vibe. Located around Haight-Ashbury are the many parks that played an important part during the Summer of Love. Some of these parks include Hippie Hill, Buena Vista Park, and the Panhandle.

Mission District

Mission District, or more commonly known as ‘The Mission’ is a melting pot of many different cultures within the neighbourhood. From tech startup businesses to chic restaurants and bars, Mission District encapsulates all of this into its stride. Of course, the San Francisco Bay Area is littered with many tech companies, some of which include Google, Facebook, and Apple to name a few.

Clarion Alley, Mission District, San Francisco

The art scene plays a heavy influence in Mission District with its alleyways featuring a heavy collection of murals and various arts. This all started in the 70s thanks to the Chicano Art Mural Movement and was inspired by the traditional Mexican paintings made famous by Diego Rivera. Some of the most significant murals in Mission District can be found at both Balmy and Clarion Alley.

Food also plays a big part in Mission District’s identity with a heavy significance on localised Mexican food. Taquerías are scattered throughout the entire district, which is also the birthplace of the Mission burrito. Other notable influences that have made Mission District distinct from its neighbouring districts include Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan restaurants. Mixed with your usual Asian restaurants alongside many other cuisines make Mission District unique across San Francisco.

Commonwealth

If there were any doubts about the food scene in Mission District, it was all put to rest in 2017 when five restaurants gained national attention after receiving Michelin-starred recognitions. They include Californios, a Mexican restaurant with an ever-evolving tasting menu; Commonwealth, an innovative American farm-to-table restaurant; and Lazy Bear, a revered pop-up restaurant with a permanent setting.

Dining

Aside from the few Michelin-starred restaurants in Mission District, San Francisco is known for its many delicious cuisines. From the sought after tourist spot that is Fisherman’s Wharf with its wide array of seafood, there is always something for someone here in San Francisco.

Boulevard Restaurant

Boulevard Restaurant

Featuring refined American dishes with an exquisite twist, the Boulevard Restaurant is one of the best places to dine in San Francisco with a gorgeous view of the bay. Helmed by renowned chef Nancy Oakes, a pioneer in haute American cuisine, Boulevard Restaurant focuses on a sample menu for its lunch and dinner service alongside its very own dessert menu for each service.

Located in the Financial District of San Francisco, the Boulevard Restaurant is ideally located as it is a stone’s throws away from the city centre. It also provides a great view of the Oakland Bay Bridge, which is a marvel in its own right.

Saison

Saison

Named after a fruity and spicy pale ale, Saison is another restaurant in San Francisco that is worth looking into. Catering towards a modern twist of French-American cuisine, Saison’s menu is constantly evolving, elevating the way diners will appreciate its craft. Focusing on a ‘farm-to-table’ concept, everything in Saison is cooked with an open fire.

It doesn’t offer any set menus; the menu at Saison focuses on tailoring a diner’s experience to their desired preferences and duration. This allows each and every diner to have a unique experience in Saison with a lot of memories to take with them once it’s done.

Flour + Water

Flour + Water

Opening its doors in the Mission District since 2009, Flour + Water is one of the staple restaurants one should visit when in San Francisco. While it’s one of the many farm-to-table restaurants in San Francisco, Flour + Water is also an Italian eaterie with a menu that places heavy emphasis on the regional traditions of Italy. Of course, it wouldn’t be a San Francisco restaurant without having some Northern American influences thrown in.

While only open for dinner, Flour + Water’s menu also features a pasta tasting session, allowing you to sample the many types of pastas the team makes in-house. It also offers pasta-making classes for those who are looking to pick up the delicate craft.

Accommodation

As with most metropolitan cities, it will be littered with many glitzy and glamorous hotels for one to choose from. The city centre alone carries all the familiar brands that have made a name for themselves over the years. From the likes of the Hilton, Marriot, Hyatt Regency, and Four Seasons, visitors to San Francisco are spoiled for choice.

Hotel Drisco

Hotel Drisco

While it may not look like much, don’t let its exteriors fool you. Hotel Drisco is strictly a boutique hotel while still maintaining its luxury offerings. Hotel Drisco continues to stick to its Edwardian decor since the early 1900s while providing the same level of attention and detail to its rooms and guests for almost a century. Its exceptional hospitality sets Hotel Drisco apart from many other boutique hotels, treating each guest like family.

Located right at the top of San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighbourhood, it is no more than a few minutes away from the iconic Lyon Street Steps. It is also a few minutes away via car to Presidio Park, which is where Crissy Field sits. Right here is where you can get an unobstructed view of the Golden Gate Bridge in all its glory.

Hotel Drisco

Hotel Drisco offers two types of accommodations: guest rooms and luxury suites. What’s great about this is that it recently went through a thorough renovation, which means that all of its rooms now come with all-new amenities and a facelift.

Palace Hotel

Palace Hotel

If one were to hear of its name, you would reckon it to be in a seedy part of town with its exterior in shambles. That is clearly not the case as Palace Hotel is aptly named to suit its look. A San Francisco icon in its own right, Palace Hotel has kept to its original architecture from 1875 while fitting its interior with classically inspired, modern décor.

Garden Court, Palace Hotel

A look fit for a king, the Palace Hotel oozes elements of charm, class, and grandeur to the highest degree. Its Garden Court is adorned with chandeliers while giving off a warm and vibrant glow to all its guests. The entire interior décor of the hotel is kept in the same beat to keep up with its vibrancy while still feeling cosy and intimate at the same time.

State Suite, Palace Hotel

The Palace Hotel also has a wide variety of rooms available with three different guests rooms available, ranging from the standard to grand deluxe. Aside from that, there are also many suites, which range from junior to the presidential suite. Palace Hotel aims to make guests feel like royalty, living up to its name through its accommodations alone.

Wi-Liam Teh
Senior Writer
Wi-Liam is a geek at heart with a penchant for tattoos. Never without a drink in hand (preferably whisky, gin, or Guinness), he is also a writer by day and a keyboard warrior by night. On his day off, he masquerades as a streetwear and sneakerhead enthusiast while his bank account says otherwise.