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The crown jewel of the Bay Area in Northern California, San Francisco is as famous for its arts offerings and ethnically diverse districts as it is for its landmark bridge. When vacationing in the City by the Bay, consider renting a house or apartment. You'll be able to experience a neighborhood the way a local would while also enjoying some of the comforts of home such as a washing machine, reserved parking spot, satellite television service, fireplace or outdoor grill.
The city's compact 49 square miles are literally packed with restaurants and eateries serving Moroccan, Italian, Mexican, Greek and Japanese dishes, to name a few, and locales pop up every day serving some type of new fusion cuisine. The areas known as South of Market and the Mission District, especially, have been gaining fame among foodies.
San Francisco takes pride in the number of museums within its city limits. The de Young Museum and the Legion of Honor house exhibits dedicated to American and European paintings and sculptures. The Asian Art Museum's very extensive collections include art from China, India and Japan. Several of Coit Tower's walls are home to excellent 1930s murals inspired by Diego Rivera's style.Performing Arts
San Francisco boasts its own symphony and jazz music center, as well as an opera and a ballet company. This is in addition to the dozens of theaters and venues which regularly present film screenings, plays, dance recitals and concerts.
For world-class shopping in the city there's no need to look any further than Union Square. The area is home to major retailers, upscale boutiques and exclusive designer stores in addition to art galleries, cafes and clubs.
A ride aboard an iconic San Francisco cable car is an experience unto itself, providing great views of the city and the bay as the cable car travels along one of three routes, all of which go through Nob Hill. This neighborhood is graced by a Notre Dame replica, Grace Cathedral, and some stately homes dating back to before the 1906 earthquake.Pier 39
This is a touristy area, but also a must do. Enjoy the street performers and shops, then be sure to savor a traditional sourdough bread bowl with clam chowder before stopping to greet the sea lions that have taken up residence here.
Due to foggy, windy marine conditions, San Francisco's weather is the exception to the rule that says California's climate is sunny and warm all year. The best weather conditions can be found in the late summer and early fall months, when highs are normally in the 70s or low 80s, and even then, it's a good idea to wear layers topped by a jacket. Autumn is also a great time to visit if you're a chocoholic—it's when visitors can sample chocolates and fine wines at the annual Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival.
San Francisco has its own international airport served by many major airlines. It's located approximately 13 miles from the downtown area. The process of renting a car there is simplified by the fact that there are many rental agencies in one centralized Rental Car Center. Advanced reservations for private limousine and town car service are required; vans providing shared ride services don't require pre-booking, but their travel times are lengthened if they have to make multiple stops. There are also public bus and rapid rail routes that stop at San Francisco International Airport and then proceed to different points in the city.