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Financial District, San Francisco, California, USA
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Palm Trees in a Row, Palm Springs, California, USA
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Featured San Francisco Hotels  /  Vacation Rentals in San Francisco

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San Francisco: A Traveller's Guide
San Francisco, California Family Vacation
San Francisco Tourist Attractions

San Francisco: A Traveller's Guide   by BCD Express Travel

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Diverse and dynamic

San Francisco's geography makes it one of the United States' most unique cities. The city lies between the ocean, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the redwood forests and the California desert. Sitting atop the San Andreas Fault, San Francisco has been shaped by earthquakes - in particular the legendary 1906 quake and subsequent fires, which destroyed 80 percent of its structures.

San Francisco has more than 50 hills within city limits and some neighborhoods are named after the hill on which they are situated, including Nob Hill, Pacific Heights, and Russian Hill.

San Francisco is a bustling city rich in ethnic diversity, with an eclectic bohemian subculture and a myriad of languages, customs, shops and restaurants packed into its compact 49 square miles.

Getting to and from the airport:

San Francisco International airport (SFO) is located 15 miles south of downtown. The best way to get downtown is via BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), which operates a direct rapid rail service. To get from SFO to Embarcadero (financial district), for example, will cost around US$8.10. The BART Station can be found on the departures/ticketing level of the International Terminal.

Taxis are also available and depart from designated taxi zones located at the roadway center islands, on the arrivals/baggage claim level of all terminals. Approximate taxi fare to downtown is US$40.

Story highlights:

  • Get on your bike and explore San Francisco
  • Cross the landmark Golden Gate Bridge
  • Watch the sea lions from the pier at Fisherman's Wharf
  • Visit the city's diverse cultural areas - Chinatown, Italian district and Japanese quarters
  • A shoppers paradise for designer wear, urban sophistication and funk
Getting around San Francisco:

The best way to navigate San Francisco is via the city's public transportation system Muni, which operates nearly 100 bus lines, the streetcar system and the city's cable cars. Tickets cost US$2.00 and free transfer tickets are available on most Muni lines, which can be used for two connecting trips within 90 minutes (this excludes BART and the cable car).

If you're up for a hilly challenge, why not cycle? San Francisco is bicycle friendly and many residents do use their bikes as their primary means of transport.

The Embarcadero, Marina Green, and Golden Gate Park are popular cycling areas and many companies rent bikes, such as Blazing Saddles and Bike and Roll.

San Francisco Bay Bridge at Dusk Seen from Treasure Island, San Francisco, USA
San Francisco Bay Bridge at Dusk Seen from Treasure Island, San Francisco, USA
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Taxis can be flagged along downtown streets or booked over the phone. Credit cards are generally accepted, but double-check before getting into the cab. Tipping is customary and drivers expect about 10 to 15 percent.

What to do:

Native San Franciscan Joyce Cohen, director of account management & operations for BCD Travel in the U.S. recommends a visit to the following sites, some of which won't cost you a dime!

No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a visit to the city's landmark - the Golden Gate Bridge. This suspension bridge spans the Golden Gate, the opening of the San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean, and stretches 1.7 miles long. You can cross the bridge via car, on foot or bicycle and take in the magnificent scenery.

In the heart of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park you will find the de Young Museum. The landmark art museum showcases priceless collections of American art from the 17th through the 20th centuries, and art of the native Americas, Africa, and the Pacific. Adult entrance fees are US$10, but it's worth noting that the first Tuesday of every month is free.

Head down to the piers and sidewalks of Fisherman's Wharf where you can glimpse the sunbathing resident sea lions crowded onto pontoons. You will also find plenty of bay-view restaurants and souvenir shops nearby. Take a two-hour "duck tour" onboard a restored World War II landing craft for an excursion of the city by land and sea, operated by Bay Quackers. Tickets cost about US$35 per person.

San Francisco's Coit Tower is a 210-foot high Art Deco tower on Telegraph Hill. The tower contains 19 painted murals, most of which are open to the public at no charge.

Duck tour

The viewing platform at the top of the tower (approx. US$3.75 entrance fee) offers sweeping views of San Francisco Bay, Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz Island, and other area attractions.

Visit the California Academy of Science - complete with an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum, and a 4-story rainforest all under one roof. It's an architectural achievement with hundreds of unique exhibits and nearly 40,000 live animals. General admission adult tickets cost US$29.95.

Where to eat:

With generations of immigrants from Asia and Europe settling in San Francisco, dining out is one of the city's great pleasures. You can enjoy some great classic Cantonese in San Francisco's Chinatown, which was established in the 1850's. Head to North Beach and you'll reach the city's Italian district. If its sushi you're after, then visit Nihonmachi where you will find a small but vibrant Japanese community - even the local McDonald's has a slightly Japanese feel.

Here are some of Joyce's top picks for dining on a budget:

Taylors Refresher Address: Ferry Building Marketplace, 1 Ferry Building, Space #6 Tel: 866 328-3663 Web:

For a cheap, cheerful and casual bite, head to Taylors Refresher. The "Eat" giant neon sign over the ordering counter gets right to the point of what Taylor's Refresher is all about. Grab your fill of burgers, fish and chips, sandwiches, tacos and much more.

Yank Sing Address: 101 Spear Street or 49 Stevenson Street Tel: 415 781 1111 / 415 541 4949 Web:

This restaurant is located in the financial district and specializes in traditional and contemporary Dim Sum, offering over 100 different varieties. Unlike most restaurants, Yank Sing has no official menu. Instead food servers carry freshly cooked dim sum, which you can request as they pass by. Open to the public during lunch hours only, it's a great place to pop in for a quick business lunch.

Pacific Catch Address: 2027 Chestnut Street Phone: 415.440.1950 Web:

Pacific Catch offers great fish and seafood dishes using local Californian ingredients, which are infused with flavors from Asia, Latin America and Hawaii. The reasonably priced menu includes dishes such as fish and sweet potato fries, grilled sandwiches, Island tacos, and Japanese rice bowls. Sit back, relax and watch the world go by.

Where to shop:

San Francisco is a haven for shopaholics, with numerous shopping centers, districts and malls. Although shopping in San Francisco can be an expensive venture, savvy shoppers will find possibilities for every budget.

Mural in Mission district

Union Square is a popular shopping haunt where you can find stores such as Macy's, Saks, Neiman Marcus, as well as designer boutiques. Street performers can keep you entertained as well as a visit to the nearby Theatres.

If it's urban sophistication or funky clothing you're after, then head to Haight Street. The streets are dotted with Victorian houses, anarchist bookstores and piercing salons, and some shops still retain an air of the 60's hippie counter culture. Another great place for unconventional items is the Mission district. Here you can find offbeat boutiques and funky ethnic clothing.

Fancy something with an Asian twist? Then walk through the red dragon gates and enter the bustling Chinatown. Complete with ornate lampposts and pagoda roofs, Chinatown offers everything from scented teas to vivid silks and statues of Buddha to mahogany furniture.

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About the Author - BCD Travel is your all inclusive corporate travel agency offering competitive ongoing corporate travel management solutions to companies across Australia. We do more than simply organise your business travel, we also coordinate conferences and incentives and assist staff with personal holiday planning to any destination worldwide.
Search for more hotels in San Francisco
Argonaut Hotel At Fisherman's Wharf - A Kimpton Hotel
The Argonaut Hotel at Fisherman's Wharf is located 2 miles from Union Square in San Francisco, Calif. The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Visitor's Center is connected to the hotel lobby. The cable car turnaround is located across the street. Chinatown is one mile away. Also within one mile of the hotel are the Museum of Modern Art, Alcatraz Ferry and Ghirardelli Square. A nautical theme runs throughout the Argonaut Hotel at Fisherman's Wharf, from wood-plank flooring to the steamer trunk front desk. The adjacent Blue Mermaid Chowder House & Bar serves fresh seafood and a variety of cocktails in a setting resembling the Gold Rush Era. Alfresco seating located in a brick alley is available alongside the hotel.
Best Western Americania San Francisco
The Best Western Americania is located one block from the BART light rail system in San Francisco, Calif. The Westfield San Francisco Centre, positioned two blocks from the hotel, is a modern shopping complex that opened in September 2007. 3 separate courtyards divide the property into sections. Custom Burger Restaurant serves American fare in a casual setting, and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The adjacent Custom Lounge boasts 80s-cool ambience with ice-blue color schemes and retro fittings. A separate lobby-level lounge houses two computer stations, a fireplace and faux-suede chairs. Complimentary wireless Internet access is provided throughout the hotel. 
Chancellor Hotel On Union Square San Francisco
Located on Union Square amid shops and restaurants, this San Francisco hotel is a half-block from a cable-car stop. The Theater District is 3 blocks from the hotel, and Fishermanís Wharf is about 2 miles away. Built in 1914 and recently renovated, this 15-story hotel features an Edwardian-style lobby with a 20-foot ceiling, period furnishings, and Oriental rugs. Just off the lobby, Luques restaurant serves American fare for breakfast and lunch. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available throughout the Chancellor Hotel on Union Square. All guestrooms are nonsmoking and include city views, LCD TVs with premium cable channels, and a choice of 12 pillow types. Wireless Internet access and local calls are complimentary. 
Clift, A Morgans Original, San Francisco
The historic Clift, A Morgans Original, in San Francisco, Calif., blends old-world ambience with modern glamour one block from Union Square's dining and shopping venues. This hotel is one-half mile from the Moscone Convention Center and Nob Hill. Both Transamerica Pyramid and AT&T Park are one mile away. Guests receive preferential access to the hotel's legendary restaurant, Asia de Cuba. Silk curtains, mahogany and leather banquettes, hand-blown Murano glass lamps, and a communal dining table fashioned from hand-etched Venetian mirrors define this elegant setting. Appetizers include lobster pot stickers and coconut-conch ceviche, while popular main dishes feature roasted lime and garlic duck and Hunan-style fish stuffed with crab
Club Quarters In San Francisco
Positioned in the financial district of San Francisco, Calif., Club Quarters in San Francisco lies adjacent to the stores and restaurants of Embarcadero Center. Chinatown and the TransAmerica Pyramid are within three blocks. Buses, BART and cable cars stop within three blocks of the hotel, providing convenient transportation to North Beach and Union Square located one mile away. English-pub classics meet American diner fare at The Elephant and Castle Pub and Restaurant. Menu specialties include fish and chips, roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and grilled fish. An open-concept business center features high-speed wired and wireless Internet access, laptop connections and computers. 
Edwardian San Francisco Hotel
The Edwardian San Francisco Hotel, located in downtown San Francisco, Calif., typifies graceful, Old-World charm. This hotel is situated one mile from Chinatown and Moscone Convention Center, and three miles from Fisherman's Wharf and Golden Gate Park. The Opera and Symphony Hall are a three block walk from the hotel and travelers arriving into San Francisco International Airport are 16 miles from this property. The Edwardian is also near public transportation. The Cav, the Edwardian's on-site restaurant, serves Thai cuisine for lunch and dinner.  The hotel also features a new wine bar feauring international wines and mediterranean food.
Hotel Del Sol, A Joie De Vivre Boutique Hotel San Francisco
The Hotel Del Sol stands in Marina District just off Lombard Street. Nearby, fashionable Union and Chestnut streets offer some of the city's most charming restaurants, cafes, bars and great boutique shopping. Only a short walk or bike-ride away are the Marina Green, Fort Mason, Golden Gate Bridge and Presidio National Park. Lined with century-old eucalyptus and pine trees, the 18-hole Presidio Golf Course lies deep inside the city's verdant park near the Golden Gate. Designed to celebrate California's lively culture, the Hotel Del Sol explodes colorfully with West Coast spirit. Once a 1950s motor lodge, the hotel was resurrected a few years ago into a boutique hotel with relaxing hammocks, sparkling pool, six-story palm trees ...
Hotel Vitale - A Joie De Vivre Hotel, San Francisco
Opened in 2005, the Hotel Vitale - a Joie de Vivre Hotel is a premier bay-front property located across the street from the revitalized Embarcadero waterfront in San Francisco, Calif. The Embarcadero Shopping Center is located one block away. This property was highlighted on the 2007 Condé Nast Traveler Gold List and on the 2007 Travel + Leisure 500 list. The modernist lobby features pine paneling, limestone columns and a still-life painted reception desk. Americano Restaurant features a circular bar and an outdoor patio that are popular with after-work locals. Chef Paul Arenstam oversees an Italian and California-influenced menu with featured temptations such as shaved squash pizzetas and steak stuffed with trumpet mushrooms. 
Hyatt Regency San Francisco
The Hyatt Regency San Francisco is positioned across from the Ferry Building Marketplace on the Embarcadero waterfront in San Francisco, Calif. Embarcadero Center shops stand adjacent to this property. A commanding spherical metal sculpture rises from a reflecting pool in the soaring Feng Shui-influenced atrium lobby. Cylindrical glass elevators glide between the hotel's 17 floors, delivering guests to their rooms in futuristic style. The lobby is ringed with up-market shops and a car-rental agency. Dining options include the Eclipse Café that features a California salad, pasta, sandwich, steak and seafood menu. The lobby bar, 13 Views, offers 13-picture-window views of the adjacent plaza and waterfront.
Marriott San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf
The Marriott San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf stands two blocks from Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, Calif. Ghiradelli Square shops are also located two blocks away. The hotel lobby features soothing mauve, cream and taupe color schemes, leather fireside seating, and polished marble floors. The lobby-level Spada restaurant serves California cuisine and hosts complimentary wine and cheese receptions with presentations conducted by local winemakers. The Lobby Lounge is decorated with colorful San Francisco murals and serves cocktails, beer, wine and snacks. A 24-hour complimentary business center houses two computer stations. Wireless Internet access is available in public areas for a fee.
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San Francisco Tourist Attractions  by Kenneth Ng

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Alcatraz Island

AlcatrazVisible from Fishermanísí Wharf, Alcatraz has a checkered history. Alcatraz got its name when the army vacated the island, it served as a military post protecting the bay shoreline. After which buildings were converted into a maximum-security prison - believed to be escape proof, given the sheer cliffs, treacherous currents, and frigid water temperatures. However after a apparent escape in which no bodies were recovered, the government closed the prison. A group of American Indians chartered a boat and symbolically reclaimed the island for the Indian people and became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The wildlife driven away during the military and penitentiary years has started returning and visitors can view them from a nature trail that runs through the island. Park rangers lead entertaining tours through the prison block as well, including an audio tour and slide show.

Itís a ridiculously popular excursion and the space is limited, so purchase tickets as far in advance as possible, From Blue & Gold Fleet (415/705-5555). You can also buy tickets in advance from the Blue & Gold ticket office on Pier 41. Wear comfortable shoes; bring snacks; take a heavy sweater or windbreaker; and prepare yourself to climb a lot of steep steps.

Coit Tower

In a city known for its panoramic views and vantage points. If itís a clear day, itís wonderful to walk up the Filbert Steps to get here, then take in the panoramic views of the city and bay at the base of the tower. Iíd recommend against paying the admission to go to the top; the view is just as good from the parking area, and you can see the murals for free. (Admission is Free to enter; to go to the top $3.75 ADULTS; $2.50 seniors, $1.50 children)

Tour Car, San Francisco, California, USA
Tour Car, San Francisco, California, USA
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Cable Cars

San Francisco beloved cable cars clank across the hills like mobile museum pieces. Each weighs about 6 tons and runs on a cable under the street in a center rail moving at constant 9.5 mph. This may strike you as slow, but it doesnít feel that way when youíre cresting an almost perpendicular hill and looking down at what seems like a bobsled dive into the ocean. In spite of the thrills, theyíre perfectly save. ($5 per ride, lines begin at the base of Powell and Market sts. and foot of market.)

Farmers Market

Several days a week around the Ferry Building Marketplace, San Francisco foodies and chefs peruse alfresco stands hawking the finest Northern California fruits, vegetables, breads, dairy products, flowers, and ready-made meals - including great breakfasts - by local restaurants. Youíll be amazed at the variety and quality, and the crowded scene itself is something to behold. You can also watch demos on Saturdays and pick up locally made vinegar and oils; they make wonderful gifts.

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About the Author: Name : Kenneth Ng Email : Main Website,
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