You might be surprised by other cities, but in San Francisco, you’ll be surprised by yourself.
Here is where happy times and social upheavals usually begin, from hysterical gold rushes to blissful hippie “be-ins.” It’s likely that anything that hasn’t yet been invented—whether it’s a skateboarding trick, a piece of technology, a poem, or a green initiative—is about to happen here. Right now. In earthquakes and dot-com bets, this community has almost completely lost everything, but never its nerve.
This metropolis, which has the most restaurants and farmers markets per capita in North America and is supplied by innovative local organic farms, necessitates the use of every Bay Area-invented technology. Up until the 1920s, when Prohibition drove drinking underground, San Francisco set the bar for Wild West saloons. San Francisco still gets wild at night, and the city now honours its once-famous saloons and speakeasies. Wine Country and nearby distilleries give a regular supply of the best booze in the country.
San Francisco is a 7 by 7 mile peninsula with an upwardly-pointing thumb that resembles California. You’ll see San Francisco’s crooked Victorian rooflines, wind-sculpted treetops, and fog cascading over the Golden Gate Bridge, so take it as a cue to gaze up.
Heads are perpetually in the clouds atop San Francisco’s 48 hills. Cable cars provide easy access to Russian and Nob Hills, and splendid panoramas reward the slog up to Coit Tower. Earn exhilarating highs on Telegraph Hill’s garden-lined stairway walks, and windswept hikes around Lands End. If there’s another kind of high you’re seeking in San Francisco, that can also be arranged: marijuana is legal here for adults 18 and over with ID, and dispensaries and delivery are at your service.
Microclimates give San Francisco days a magical realism: while it might be raining in the Mission, it might be bright in the farthest reaches of Golden Gate Park. A few degrees’ difference across neighbourhoods allows for the consumption of salted-caramel ice cream in Dolores Park or a hurried getaway to tropical heat inside the rainforest dome of the California Academy of Sciences. You’ll experience extremes of warmth and shivers in this place at the same time.