The Bay area of California is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. With its laid-back lifestyle, San Francisco is the perfect place to go to enjoy the sun and the surf but with all of the excitement and pizzazz you find in a city.

Where to Go and What to See

Golden Gate

The Golden Gate district offers the best views of, what else, the Golden Gate Bridge, but there is more to offer than the sprawling piece of architecture that makes San Fran so famous. The Presidio and Fort Mason are two former military posts that are now staple pieces of historical architecture in the district. The Presidio was the longest running military post in the United States before closing down in 1994.

The area is full of upscale boutiques and excellent shopping. Head to Union St. for some of the best shopping in the city, even if you only want to window-shop. Chestnut St. is a one-stop shop for anything you may have forgotten to pack or if you were hoping to score some beautiful designer duds.

A section of the Golden Gate district is aptly named The Marina due to, what else, the marinas. While you’re visiting, be sure to plan for a whale-watching tour, where you can spot many of the majestic creatures in action.

Fisherman’s Wharf

This district, nicknamed “The Wharf,” is one of the most popular destinations among travellers. This area is known for some of the best seafood in the city; a genuine way to experience the Bay Area culture. The main attraction in the Wharf is Jefferson Street. Head over to Pier 39 for the specialty shops, and if you take a break around the K-Dock, you can see the adorable Sea Lions that call the spot home year round.

Another main attraction is Ghirardelli Square, where you can still see remnants of the old chocolate-making machinery. It was declared a city landmark in 1965.

Union Square

This main-theatre district will give you a first-row view of many Broadway and off-Broadway shows. This is also an area for some of the best shopping in the nation and the finest art galleries, restaurants, and specialty stores in the district.

Haight District

This bohemian district still boasts many of the hippy-laden stores that once thrived here, as it was the home of the hippy movement. The quirky, colourful lifestyle is often seen on Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park including performing drum circles. You can also view houses that were once owned by the rich and famous (and notorious!) such as The Grateful Dead, Charles Manson and Ron Donovan.

Castro District

The Castro District is most famous for its strong LGBT presence and cultural epicentre. Known as the “gay mecca of the world”, the Castro has bookstores, clothing outlets, video stores, and bars dedicated to the community that made it famous.

The Castro Theatre is also a famous point in the district. Built in 1922, it is an historical landmark. For another piece of history, you can also stop at the LGBT History Museum and take a step back into eras passed.

Seasonality

San Francisco may be in California, but it has a very distinct (and different) temperature from what is typically thought of for California. The area has mild temperatures that are often not warmer than 22 degrees and not often cooler than 10 degrees. Consistency is the name of the game in San Francisco—mild throughout the year.

Head to sunny San Francisco for a fun and fabulous time in an historic and beautiful city. Explore the neighbourhoods, try new things and talk to native San Franciscans to get to know the city beyond the guided tours. Before you take off on your long journey to the West Coast of the United States, be sure to get international travel insurance for peace of mind while travelling abroad.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Ashleigh Nushawg