San Francisco is one of the most scenic cities in the world and yet one of the most compact. The city resides on a 46.6-square-mile peninsula bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the north by the Golden Gate Strait and from north to east by San Francisco Bay.
Today, there are some 7 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area. The hub of a nine-county complex and one of the financial and biotech capitals of the West, the city has a resident population of about 824,525. San Francisco is a collection of more than 40 neighborhoods, each reflecting the diversity of its population and distinct history, atmosphere and personality.
The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau features a section on its website, to help visitors explore the city from end to end. www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com/neighborhoods
London-born and raised Chef David Lawrence merges classic French cooking spiked with southern flavors in his elegant restaurant, 1300 On Fillmore. French trained, and of Jamaican heritage, the chef uses the freshest of California’s seasonal ingredients to whip up ingenious soulful dishes that will wow you no matter where you’re from. Chef David and his wife, Monetta White will be the first to tell you that the locale has become a melting pot of tourists and locals alike, who can’t resist “getting their grub on” at the popular eatery. www.1300fillmore.com
BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) offers travelers a direct link from the airport to the city. For a train schedule and map, visit www.bart.gov.
Due to its mild climate (temperatures rarely rise above 75 or drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit), San Francisco is an ideal year-round destination. However, it’s always advised to dress in layers and pack a sweater or light jacket.
Hotel Diva, the chic, high-tech boutique hotel, offers my kind of sleep-over. All 118 guestrooms are
equipped to make women executives feel like queens, though men are welcome as well. The “Suite ESC” (aka “Suite Escape” named after the keyboard tab “ESC”) provides an oversized computer screen, and every indulgence that a diva needs to burn the midnight oil. Four cutting-edge 24-hour Diva Lounges, staged by San Francisco’s hottest artists and designers, offer guests an inspirational space for brainstorming. www.hoteldiva.com
San Francisco has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the nation and is repeatedly named one of the best restaurant cities in the United States and the world. However, nothing is more “San Francisco” than dining along the Embarcadero Waterfront. My favorite power lunch spot is the Waterbar, which showcases spectacular aquariums and the finest seafood from local and global waters. www.waterbarsf.com
The African-American heritage of the Fillmore Jazz District is vividly portrayed at 1300 On Fillmore where American cuisine with soulful influences is served. Be sure to ask when live jazz is performed. www.1300fillmore.com
“Locally-grown” Peet’s Coffee and Tea offers both exceptionally strong coffee and an urban environment to log in or log on. And, they have a location in nearly every neighborhood. www.peets.com
While the club scene in San Francisco is still a lure, some of the latest hot spots are to be found in major museums and arts organizations in the city. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, noted for its film series in the 1970s, and the Asian Art Museum, which launched Art After Hours in 1998, were among the first to launch a series of post-work evening events merging cocktails with culture. For updates on more San Francisco after hours activities visit www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com/escape
The racially diverse Barber Lounge combines grooming with culture by offering head-to-toe sprucing (hair, skin, nails, massage and spray tanning), an art gallery and event space. www.barberlounge.com
Footloose & Fancy-free
A must-do is the 210-foot Coit Tower located in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. The tower, located in the city's Pioneer Park, was built in 1933 as a monument to the firefighters of San Francisco. It offers perhaps the city’s best view of San Francisco including other must-sees: the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island, Treasure Island, Russian Hill, Nob Hill, Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, the Financial District and Lombard Street.
AirTran Airways offers daily, non-stop flights to San Francisco International Airport and more than 71 destinations. www.airtran.com
Thanks to our friends at Only in Francisco for providing fun facts and information used in this column. www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com AT