Everything You Need To Know Before You Visit San Francisco

If you’re an architecture buff who is also a foodie – and happens to love the great outdoors – it’s hard to beat San Francisco. The city by the bay is one of the most beautiful destinations in America, thanks to its mix of Victorian homes, cable cars and the fog enveloped Golden Gate Bridge. Here’s a look at what’s new and classic in San Francisco.

Tap into San Francisco’s rich history with a stay at The Palace Hotel. A member of the Historic Hotels of America, the hotel has been a city icon since its debut in 1875. Thomas Edison and Charles Lindbergh were feted here, and President Warren G. Harding died at the hotel in 1923. A must-do at the hotel? Sipping on a cocktail in the Pied Piper Bar and Grill, home to the Max eld Parrish painting “The Pied Piper of Hamelin.”

Pied Piper Bar and Grill.

Two of the city’s architectural icons are the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. Bundle up to walk (or bike) across the bridge and book tickets well in advance to tour Alcatraz, which counts Al Capone as a former inmate. Other not-to-miss architectural gems include the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building that now houses the luxury Italian menswear brand Isaia, and the Renzo Piano-designed California Academy of Sciences, a combination planetarium, aquarium and natural history museum. The Academy’s iconic living roof, which is covered in about 1.7 million native plants, helps to heat, cool and insulate the building efficiently.

Alcatraz Island.

Newer buildings reshaping the San Francisco skyline include Studio Gang’s twisting Mira Tower, as well as the Salesforce Tower and its adjacent 5.4-acre rooftop park at the Transbay Transit Center, slated to open in early summer. Don’t miss the Proxy Project in Hayes Valley; this formerly vacant lot is now home to converted shipping containers that host films and concerts.

It would take weeks to make your way through San Francisco’s museums and art galleries but if you’re short on time, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a solid starting point. The museum reopened in 2016 with an expansion spearheaded by the architecture firm Snøhetta, making it one of the largest contemporary art museums in the US. The new façade was inspired by San Francisco’s legendary fog. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, designed by Daniel Libeskind, is clad in more than 3,000 blue steel panels that reflect light throughout the day. The museum’s design is based around the two Hebrew letters spelling “L’Chaim,” which means “To Life.” San Francisco has more than 1,000 murals throughout the city and one of the best places to see them is in the Mission. Some of the biggest concentrations of murals are found on Balmy Street and Clarion Alley.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The city’s art galleries are equally eclectic and vibrant. The 111 Minna Gallery showcases works from local and international artists. The industrial space is also home to Red Door Coffee, so come for the art exhibits or the monthly yoga and coffee mornings. ArtHaus specializes in contemporary art from New York and California artists, while Art Attack promotes up-and-coming West Coast artists.

San Francisco is a mecca for stylish housewares and design stores. Browse the handmade ceramics at Heath, or March SF for unique tabletop and serving pieces. Looking for vintage goods? Then Past Perfect is your place. Don’t miss Gravel & Gold, a women-owned design collective that sells a little bit of everything, from dresses to makeup. Fans of bold textiles and globally inspired décor will love St. Frank. Leave room in your suitcase for indigo textiles or a framed vintage suzani.

Ferry Building Marketplace.

Make time to eat your way through the 1898 Beaux-Arts style Ferry Building Marketplace, which is foodie heaven. Fuel up with a latte at Blue Bottle Coffee and stock up on creamy cheeses at Cowgirl Creamery’s Artisan Cheese Shop. Far West Fungi is a one-stop destination for mushrooms. If you prefer to have your coffee in a more futuristic setting, head to Café X, which has two coffee bars and a kiosk staffed by a friendly robot. Customers order drinks via their phone or tablet.

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