Flights to San Francisco: Frisky in Frisco

Experience San Francisco

The Golden Gate Bridge inspires shutterbugs on holidays to San Francisco. Drive its fog-enshrouded span or gaze from the shore at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which wraps the city in an embrace of sheer coastal cliffs. You may also want to point your lens at San Francisco's Painted Ladies. No, not a gang of gaudy women, but eye-catching, pastel-painted Victorian-era houses set against a big-city, high-rise backdrop.

Get cultured

Immerse yourself in the world's most talked-about art at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Take your time – there are 23,000 hand-picked artworks to ogle. Marvel at vibrant Matisse portraits and black-and-white Adams landscapes. Learn fishy facts at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, one of the city's favourite green spaces. Or find out just how sweet a rose really does smell in the Shakespeare Garden.

Eat and drink

The fish have barely stopped flapping before being delivered filleted, cooked and garnished to your table at old-fashioned Fisherman’s Wharf. Tuck in to cioppino, a San Francisco-style Italian fish stew, or order bubbling pots of Pacific Coast Dungeness crabs. Chinatown markets showcase Asian cabbage dishes and duck dim sum that melts like chocolate in your mouth. Partner your meal with flavoursome wines from nearby Napa Valley vineyards.

Free or cheap

After your San Francisco flight, stretch your legs at the thousand-acre Golden Gate Park. Paths meander through meticulous gardens, past lakes, to the AIDS Memorial Grove. There’s even a bison paddock. Feeling fit? Nearby Lombard Street has been called the 'crookedest street in the world' and is so tortuously steep that it’s bordered by stairs not sidewalks. OK, you’ve earned it. Just a few bucks buys you a ride in a colourful San Fran cable car.

Fast facts

Where? San Francisco covers a peninsula between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, 600km from Los Angeles to the south and Oregon to the north.

Population: San Francisco has 805,000 residents. Grouped with neighbouring cities Oakland and San Jose, the San Francisco Bay area is home to more than seven million.

Did you know? San Fran's reputation as a tolerant city where anything goes dates from the wild 19th-century days of the California Gold Rush. That’s long before the flower-powered 60s.

Getting about: San Francisco's charming cable cars are a favourite means of transport. For extended Bay Area travel ride the BART trains.

San Francisco Hotels

Pure luxury or pure wacky? The choice is yours. Argonaut suites feature nautical decor and telescopes – perfect for anyone seeking a cruise without the inconvenience of sea-sickness, Egyptian mosaics disorientate at Hotel Union Square but step outside and you’ll find America soon enough.

San Francisco Restaurants

You wonder if there's enough fish in the sea to fill the menus in the Bay. Luckily, Sebo flies it from Japan for its famous sushi. If meat’s up your street, tackle Incanto’s calf brains or beef bone marrow.

Shopping in San Francisco

They say you'll leave your heart in San Francisco but, judging from our shopping suggestions, it’s more likely to be your wallet. Fill your bags with a lion dance costume from Chinatown, a political poetry tome or Scandinavian antique.

San Francisco Nightlife

The sun has dropped over the Pacific horizon, now what? Stay in Pacific mode with a Mai Tai and fill-your-face buffet in the Tonga Room. Rock to hot jazz to work it off and come over all sophisticated with a single-malt nightcap.

San Francisco Attractions

Golden Gate Bridge ranks as one of the world's great landmarks, but it ain’t the only attraction in town. Dive into the arts and sciences at world-class museums, then hitch a ride on San Francisco’s colourful, museum-worthy cable cars.

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