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For a city that’s only seven miles by seven miles, San Francisco can still feel larger than life. Thanks to its start-up culture and creative scene, you’re more likely to find yourself at a food truck with young tech entrepreneurs than eating at high-end restaurants alongside the suited and booted. And this, says Anthony Arms, British Airways’ Airport Manager for San Francisco, makes it a great place to tag on a day or two after business is done
If you want to explore away from the city centre, hire a bike from Blazing Saddles and cycle over Golden Gate Bridge to the pretty coastal town of Sausalito. After an ice cream on the seafront, take the ferry back to the city past Alcatraz and into Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can reward yourself with a steaming bowl of clam chowder from one of the stalls.
The Ferry Building has been redeveloped into a lively marketplace that celebrates Californian food. There’s a farmers’ market on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and up-and-coming chefs have opened restaurants here as well.The Slanted Door is a great spot for casual modern Vietnamese fare. If you’re struggling to get a table, pull up a seat at its no-reservations bar.
San Francisco is fascinating for its diversity – in culture, population and architecture. Take a couple of hours to walk around the neighbourhoods. They vary hugely, from the bustle of Union Square to the old-world elegance of the Painted Ladies (a group of colourful Victorian houses, pictured) and the calm of Golden Gate Park.
A number of chefs have turned to food trucks to feed the masses, with anything from Korean tacos to bacon-burrata BLTs. They usually turn up in different neighbourhoods on different nights, so check Off the Grid to find out who will be near you.
Culture infuses everything about San Francisco – its diversity, focus on innovation and creation, and its famous museums. The Museum of Modern Art is closed until early 2016 for expansion, but still stages pop-up shows throughout the city.
San Francisco is just an hour-and-a-half drive from Napa and Sonoma, home to California’s most famous vineyards. Book a tasting at the Wattle Creek Winery – the sparkling Shiraz is particularly refreshing. Nearby Yountville is home to one of America’s most famous restaurants, Thomas Keller’s French Laundry.
San Francisco has a healthy shopping scene. There are big-name stores in Union Square, with more bohemian independent shops in Haight-Ashbury. Check out Amoeba Music, a former bowling alley that now boasts the world’s biggest CD collection. China Town is also worth a look, especially for knick-knacks and food.