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We look at one the America’s favourite travel spots.

San Francisco has always been one of America’s most enticing destinations. This former goldrush town may not always bask in the sunny weather of its Southern California sisters, but where else can you sample a touch of Asia, a bit of Parisian joie de vivre, a taste of Central America, a hint of Italy and a good dollop of West Coast style and eccentricity in a single day?

San Francisco’s secret weapon is its winning combination of big-city sophistication and small town accessibility. You can always discover something new in this walking town of distinct neighbourhoods from restored Victorians to funky shops to some of the most delicious restaurants in the country.

San Francisco is currently in the throes of a building boom, and formerly decrepit corners of the city are undergoing a metamorphosis. The city is also home to one of America’s most popular icons; The Golden Gate Bridge. You’ll also find the Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Park, the city’s famous cable cars and Chinatown district.

San Francisco’s Neighbourhoods:

Union Square

The centre of tourist activity, Union Square is tucked inside Sutter, Grant, Market, and Mason streets. Big department stores, expensive boutiques, theatres, many exceptional restaurants and the greatest concentration of hotels in San Fran surround the actual square. If you stay here, Chinatown, Nob Hill, the Tenderloin, the Financial District and SoMa are all within walking distance.

Chinatown

This densely packed area is as colourful and exotic as advertised. The Dragon Gate entrance on Grant Ave leads to touristy shops but after you wander up and around Stockton Street you’ll feel as if you’re in another world.

North Beach

North Beach isn’t actually a beach, it’s the former Italian enclave that Chinatown is encroaching upon. This is the place to hop from one cafe to another, to browse for books and Italian poetry and to sample the delectable treats on offer from the various Italian delis and pastry shops. Columbus Avenue is the main thoroughfare and family style restaurants and crowed bars line the streets from Washington to Grant.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Sixteen million tourists per year can’t all be wrong, but this most touristy section of town is all a matter of taste. Located on Bay Street, the former working class piers have been stripped of their glory and turned into a gaudy ode to commercialism.