The City of Love, Baghdad by the Bay, The City That Knows How…
Build on 43 hills, San Francisco is a city of many names, and rightly so. Who knew that a small fishing village would be transformed by the Gold Rush of 1848 into one of the most eclectic and personality-filled places in the world? It is one of the richest cities on the planet, ranking number four in terms of the number of billionaires who call the city home and in the stock market crash of 1929 not a single San Franciscan bank failed. San Francisco boasts a wide collaboration of art, culture, history, music and much more. The Chinese Fortune Cookie, Chop Suey and Denim Jeans were all invented here. The city is a must see for anyone who is in love with life!
When I first arrived in the Bay area the city welcomed me with a plethora of sights and sounds that reminded me that I was finally there! I could feel the energy of the city radiating through my very core as I took my first stroll down the colorful streets and viewed the shops and artisans displaying their crafts with skill and pride. San Francisco boasts over 300 coffee shops, incredible farm-to-table restaurants, Lombard Street, Alcatraz, the beautiful Painted Ladies, Haight Ashbury, the cable cars, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Muir Woods, and wine country. I have to ask myself, what better place to vacation than San Francisco?
On the first full day of my journey I hired a private driver to take me to wine country! Boasting more than 100,000 acres and 850 wineries in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, this area is a must see for anyone indulging in a San Francisco adventure. As I traveled over the incredible Golden Gate Bridge on the way to my winery tours, I was better able to appreciate the power and ingenuity of the men who built such a grand and beautiful structure. When I arrived in the countryside my breath was taken away by the beauty of the crops that surrounded me. Wine country is easily accessible and celebrates the good life through fabulous restaurants, resorts, spas, and, of course, wineries.
The Muir Woods is another must see when visiting this area. Home to 1000 year old Redwoods and located just across the bay from the city, I had the opportunity to commune with nature through strolling among some of the oldest trees on earth. Tranquility reigns with abundant wildlife, beautiful fauna, and a strong feeling of oneness with nature.
After the Muir Woods I enjoyed a relaxed afternoon in Sausalito. Located across the bay, it was the location of the temporary house boat home of Otis Redding, who co-authored and recorded the hit number “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” in honor of the town. Sausalito is a great option as a side excursion, with wonderful shopping and restaurant options, and the ferry ride is a lot of fun.
Alcatraz was my next adventure of choice. It is said “You break the rules, you go to prison. You break the prison rules, you go to Alcatraz”. After exploring Alcatraz I understand why. Although this federal prison closed in 1963, the haunting sadness of the inmates still resonates throughout the halls, housing such infamous individuals as Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, and Robert “Birdman” Stroud. I learned much about the history of the prison, inmates, and guards and I strongly recommend this tour to anyone who makes a trip to San Francisco.
The district of Haight Ashbury was the hotspot of the hippy movement in the 1967 Summer of Love. The one time home of the Grateful Dead, Hell’s Angels, and Janis Joplin, this district is another must-see on the San Francisco list. This area of San Francisco has maintained the bohemian ambiance for which it first became famous, and is perfect for travelers who enjoy boutiques, book shops, vintage clothing, medical marijuana shops, hip restaurants, and of course the Queen Ann Victorian Painted Ladies.
What San Francisco trip is complete without experiencing the romantic cable cars? The only moving national historic monument in the world, they were built in 1873 and transport 9.7 million people around the city annually.
Although this was not my first trip to San Francisco, the city memorized me once again. As Tony Bennet so eloquently warbles, I left my Heart in San Francisco, as will you when you walk the hilly streets of The City That Knows How.