Outside of the home bases, my favorite city to travel to by far is San Francisco. In general the goose bumps appear whenever a trip is on the horizon. When it is a return visit to the “City by the Bay”, goose bumps are an understatement to how I am feeling.
Why do I keep going back to San Francisco you ask? There are ten reasons in particular:
1. The Growing Up Factor. My dad and his side of the family are originally from California and the Bay Area, so there was lot of San Fran summer time growing up. Cable car rides, experiencing my first coffee at The Buena Vista Cafe, watching the sea lions, Giants baseball games, all the fun memories of youth, make me want to go back and experience it over-and-over again.
Riding a Cable Car down Hyde Street as a kid.
2. The Coffee. San Francisco has one of the best indie coffee shop scenes around. Hanging out to a pour over in the Mission District at Four Barrel or grabbing an espresso shot at the Blue Bottle Kiosk in Hayes Valley, there seems to be a shop popping up on every corner. Each one is in its own little nook of the city. Experiencing the different coffee shops has also been a great way to discover and learn more about the various parts of the city.
3. The Neighborhoods. Speaking of the various parts, San Francisco is home to dozens of neighborhoods. Fisherman’s Wharf is the popular choice among tourists, Union Square is for shoppers, Outer Sunset is where you’ll run into the Pacific Ocean and lots of fog, and Alamo Square is primary residential, but with some of the best views of the skyline and city. I love the fact that each neighborhood has its own story and unique flavor. It feels like you’ve entered a different city or part of world going from one to the next.
Staring out at the Outer and Inner Sunset neighborhoods from The 16th Ave Tiled Steps Project.
4. The International Feel. Walking the streets you’ll hear many conversations, sometimes none of them in English. People from all over the world come to the city to visit and/or set up residency. The Japantown neighborhood is the oldest enclave in the United States. Chinatown is the place I like to go to scope out authentic cuisine, seeing fruits and vegetables at product markets along Stockton Street that I have never tried, or to hop from one touristy gift an antique shop to the next on Grant Avenue.
Heading into the Chinatown neighborhood at Grant Avenue and Bush Street.
5. The Walkability. One thing that can be a challenge yet at the same time is strength of the city is its walkability. You face challenges heading off on foot with the drastic elevation changes like on Hyde Street. The chance to experience hidden gems that you would never see taking public transportation is well worth the climbing. I took a short stroll off the beaten path from the tourist friendly Lombard Street and found one of my favorite San Fran views just by walking.
6. The Weather. I’ve always had a fascination with storms, clouds, checking out the local radar maps wherever I am at and waking up to the Weather Channel every day. This city and the surrounding area is a smorgasbord for meteorologists. Along the coast it could be cold, drizzly and foggy, while a few miles inline in the heart of the city there could be blue skies and you would be a t-shirt. You head to the other side of San Francisco Bay and further inland and it could be a hundred degrees in the summer. Waking up in the morning, along with deciding where I want to go for coffee I ask myself, “What kind of weather am I in the mood for today?”
7. The Water. The temperatures you experience in San Francisco are influenced in a big way by how close to are to the Pacific Ocean. The city sits on a peninsula surrounded by the ocean and San Francisco Bay. I love being along water no matter where I am at. Ocean Beach right along the Pacific is always the first place I head to when visiting. Lands End, the Ferry Building, and walking over the Golden Gate Bridge are my other favorite spots to hangout and capture the majestic water views.
Looking out at Ocean Beach and the Pacific Ocean beyond.
8. The Terrain. The unpredictable weather can also be attributed to the fact that you go from rugged coastline, to big city and mountains, to the desert in the blink of an eye. I enjoy the fact that you can experience hair-pin turns, palm trees, coastline and flat desert all on one short car ride.
9. The Views. All of the above factors put together create views that are hard to match anywhere else. Staring off into the wavy Pacific, taking a cable car ride, driving up to Twin Peaks or walking up-top Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower, I get a bit overwhelmed (in a good way) with the options to capture breathtaking vistas and views.
The skyline from Alamo Square.
10. The Tech. Along with travel, technology has also been a passion of mine since my youth. I actually pay the bills today as a web developer. Just south of the city, sits Silicon Valley, the technological hub of the world. Apple, Google, YouTube, Yahoo, you name a tech company, you will find them headquartered or with a very large presence here. Many companies also setup up shop right in the city. Walk into a coffee shop or casually down the street, sit on a random bench and you’re bound to catch a conversation about a website launch, an IPO or what they think Apple is going to do next. The dot-com heyday may have passed, but there still a buzz in this region. It brings out the geek in me when in town.
What are some reasons why you would want to visit (or return to) San Francisco?