San Francisco : The City To Fall In Love With

What makes a city interesting? History, culture and the arts. San Francisco, also fondly called Frisco or San Fran has a rich history and a culture that gave birth to the flower power of the 70s.

San Francisco is the cultural, commercial and financial centre of Northern California. It was founded on June 29, 1776 when the colonists from Spain founded the Presidio of San Francisco at the Golden Gate and Mission San Francisco de Asís a few miles away, all named for St. Francis of Assisi. The original inhabitants of this area were the Native American Yelamu people.

The 1848 Gold Rush brough in a flood of people increasing the population from 1000 to 25000. The current IT Rush is similar, bringing in a new wave of people. San Francisco is the city of IT and innovation, of spirit and enterprise.

But perhaps one of the most endearing things about this city, apart (and perhaps because of) from its year round lovely weather was the counter culture movement which spawned after the WWII. By the latter half of 1960s San Francisco was the center of the hippie and other alternative culture. In 1967, thousands of young people entered the Haight-Ashbury district in what came to be known as the Summer Of Love. The San Francisco Sound emerged as an influential force in rock music with acts like the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead becoming landmark bands worldwide. San Francisco is the city of the Summer Of Love!

The WWII saw a jump in the gay population of this city when the US military discharged homosexuals. From 1941 to 1945, more than 9000 gay servicemen and women were discharged and they stayed back here. The late 1960s also brought in a new wave of lesbians and gays who flocked to San Francisco for its reputation as a radical left-wing center. Many of them moved to the Haight, buying old buildings and fixing them up. San Francisco is the city of Harvey Milk, America’s first openly gay elected official, and hence has a prominent place in the history of LGBT rights movement.

Strongly influenced by the cool currents of the Pacific Ocean to the west and the water of the San Francisco Bay at the North and East, this city has an amazingly pleasant and moderate weather all year round. During the summers rising jot air in the interiors of California creates a low pressure area that draws winds from the North Pacific (read: from near Alaska) through the Golden Gate, creating the city’s characteristic cool windy and foggy weather. The city itself is hilly with many streets running at steep angles. San Francisco is known as the windy city!

With so many interesting things happening to it, San Francisco is home to people from various corners of the world, doing various things. This makes the city very special and its culture rich and vibrant.

Our own visit to this amazing city was because of the Centre For Asian American Media’s South Asian Film Festival. With our film Bachelor Girls playing in this festival (now also playing on Netflix), this was a fantastic opportunity to make a visit.  We were staying at the really nice Orchard Hotel on Bush Street in the Union Square district of San Francisco. Union Square is a modern buzzy part of the town, centrally located and connected and a great place for people watching.

Scroll down after the photos for details.

Orchard Hotel, San Francisco
The large and comfortable rooms at orchard Hotel spoiled us…
San Francisco
San Francisco is a hilly city and you can see how steep its roads can be…
Cable Car, San Francisco.
The old cable cars have been maintained on one route as a tourist attraction. They are fun, but you may have to queue a long time to get your seat.
Powell Street, San Francisco.
That’s how steep the streets of San Franciso are. This is near the crossing of Powell Street and Bush Street.
Union Square, San Francisco.
Union Square Park is a great place for open air cafes, art shows and just generally hanging around.
Powell Street, Cable Car, San Francisco
Powell Street on Union Square is a buzzy place full of restaurants, cafes, hotels and shopping.
Apple Shop, Union Square, Dan Francisco
The Union Square Apple shop.
China Town, San Francisco
An early morning walk through China Town in San Francisco
China Town, San Francisco
Get authentic Chinese food, ingredients, clothes etc here at China Town, San Francisco
China Town, San Francisco
Our walk through San Franciso’s China Town made us feel like we were in Hiong Kong!
San Francisco
Suddenly you come across a beautiful vintage building, like this one, in San Francisco.
Building art in San Francisco
Walking towards the Fisherman’s Wharf, this beautiful building with this lobvely piece of art. Its things like these that make San Francisco so unforgettable.
Walking in San Francisco.
Beautiful old buildings with corner cafes, brilliant weather and plenty of walking places. San Francisco is special.
Music store, San Francisco.
We walked into this beautiful music store. So much music. So many albums!
Towards telegraph Hill, San Francisco.
From China Town we turn towards telegraph Hill. A reference of the steep walk up.
San Francisco.
And looking back towards where we came from…
Coit Tower, San Francisco.
Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill. Come here to soak in the peace and greenery, and the run away parrots. The view from the tower is stunning though you have to buy tickets for it.
San Francisco view from Telegraph Hill
That’s San Francisco from Telegraph Hill. Skyscrapers and vintage buildings, all in one frame.
Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
At the Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
Considered one of the most walking friendly city of the USA (and perhaps the world) we walked all the way from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf and back, a distance of close to 7 km, and were ready for more.
Marina, San Francisco
At the Marina near Crissy Fields
Tesla Model X free charging at Crissy Fields, San Francisco
Crissy Fields, once a US Army Airfield, is now part of the Golden Gate Bridge Recreational Area. With beaches and walking areas its perfect to spend a day in. It even has free charging stations for electric vehicles, like this Tesla Model X here.
The Old Port Gate at Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
The Old Port Gate at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco
Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
The Fisherman’s Wharf is a place you can spend an entire day in…
Boudin's bakery at Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
But do visit Boudin’s Bakery. They are iconic.
Fish taco and Clam Chowder with Sourdough at Boudin, San Francisco
At the Boudin Bakery do try the Clam Chowder in the Sourdough Bowl (on the right). The Fish Taco on the left are excellent as well.
Shierman's Wharf, San Francisco
Though crowded and touristy, the Fisherman’s Wharf deserves on visit at least. There is even a Mahatma gandhi statue here.
Sunny San Francisco
There is nothing like San Francisco on a bright sunny and breezy day!
Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco.
Close to the Fisherman’s Wharf is the famous Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco.
Golden Gate Bridge Park, San Francisco.
The Golden Gate Bridge has a park around it where one can walk, cycle, or just lie around. Across the sea, in the distant, you can faintly see Alcatraz Island and its prison.
Marina District, San Francisco
Walking towards the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina district of San Francisco, with its beautiful homes and small cute lawns outside.
The Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco
The Palace of Fine Arts was originally made in 1915 for the Panama Pacific Exposition in order to exhibit works of art.
The Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco
The beautiful imposing structures of the Palace of Fine Arts are a great place to come for a walk or hang around, getting inspired.
Lagoon at Marina, Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco
A lagoon around the Palace of Fine Arts is dotted with beautiful homes and sunny lawns.
San Francisco
A typical classic neighborhood in San Francisco. Love these Victorian buildings.
San Francisco doorway
Pretty doors like these with these lovely colours… we could take any of these houses…
Castro Theatre, San Franciscco
The Castro Theatre is a prominent San Francisco land mark.
Bus Stop, Castro Theatre, San Francisco
Waiting for a bus near the Castro Theatre
Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco
Haight Ashbury and its gorgeous peaceful homes…
Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco
Just love these homes in Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco
The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco
The Contemporary Jewish Museum at Yerba Buena in San Francisco has many exhibitions throughout the year. Do check on it once.
The Yerba Buena Centre For The Arts, San Francisco
Another great place to check out : The Yerba Buena Centre For The Arts, just opposite the Cotemporary Jewish Museum, and close to the San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art.
View from Herbert Hotel, San Francisco
After about three days we had to change our hotel and we moved into Herbert Hotel on Powell Street at union Square.
Lobby of Herbert Hotel, Union Square, San Francisco
Although our room was tiny tiny, the Herbert Hotel is cozy, clean and right aon Union Square.
Wet Street, San Francisco
It can rain anytime in March in San Francisco.
Coffee and avocado toast, Caffe Central, San Francisco
Our coffee and avocado toast breakfast at Caffe Central, San Francisco
San Francisco Cafe
There’s always a Starbucks or other Cafe around to catch up on a coffee, re-charge yourself and your phones.
Shadow portrait, San Francisco.
Love the warm angular light of San Francisco. Self Portrait.
Pacific Heights, San Francisco
Pacific Heights at San Francisco is again another neighborhood full of eclectic cafes.
B Patisserie at Pacific heights, San Francisco.
B Patisserie at Pacific heights, San Francisco. “Our vision is to bring San Francisco a refined, yet modern, salon de thé with an open pastry kitchen, showcasing the combination of Belinda Leong’s talent with Michel Suas’s knowledge and expertise. “
B Patisserie at Pacific heights, San Francisco.
I tried the Black Sesame Coffee at B Patisserie at Pacific heights, San Francisco, and loved it!
Artesano, San Francisco.
Lunch was at Artesano, ‘Latin Comfort Food’. The pulled pork was out of this world!
Breakfast at Han's, San Francisco
We stopped byt one morning at a classic breakfast joint called Han’s. Delicious omelettes with toast and pamncakes!
Wash And Fold, Sutter Street, San Francisco.
Services like this Wash And Fold at Sutter Street, San Francisco, make your trip entirely possible. Run by a warm young lady, they will wash and fold your clothes while you are away discovering the city.
San Francisco Powell Street at night.
At night as the fog descends, the city looks magical as if viewed from inside a veil.

When to visit: San Francisco has lovely weather all year round. November to May is slightly rainy. If you plan to make an extended trip to areas around San Francisco, a few high altitude roads are shut during winters due to snow. So July is a good season if you want to combine SFO with Yosemite National Park.

What To See: San Francisco has wonderful, mild weather. It’s excellent for walking. You could map out what your interests are and walk across the city, taking breaks at its numerous eclectic cafes and restaurants. Union Square, Chinatown, Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and gaze at the Sea Lions here, Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower, a Cable Car ride, Haight Ashbury, Murals on Mission Street, Alamo Square, Castro Theatre, the winding Lombard Street... there is plenty to do inside of this wonderful city.

There are plenty of museums to see, like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Yerba Buena Centre For The Arts, The Cable Car Museum, Asian Art Musuem, California Academy Of Sciences… Plan your trip with this wonderful list of free museums of San Francisco.

What To Eat: San Francisco has a little bit of the whole world. There is food from all over and you can try practically anything here. It is difficult to find bad food. But try some joints in Chinatown for chinese. They are amongst the most authentic you will find. Try Artesano on Pacific Heights for Latino ‘Comfort Food’. Look for Parada 22 for Puerto Rico food at Haight-Ashbury. We loved the French pastry at B Patisserie, again at Pacific Heights. Look for El Faros’s at Mission district for some of the best and oldest Burritos and Tacos in SFO. The House Of Prime Rib at Van Ness Avenue for the classic steaks and ribs. John’s Grill at Ellis Street will serve the classic old era American food (chops, baked potatoes,  sliced tomatoes) like perhaps no one else. Boudin at Fisherman’s Wharf must be given their due with their Clam Chowder in Sourdough Bread Bowl. We walked into just about any shop that said ‘Sushi’ and it was excellent! There is so much food here, the list would be endless.

if you are on the run and want affordable, quick food, walk into any Walgreen’s or CVS outlets and grab a saland, or sandwich and a coffee or juice. And maybe a fruit. All affordable and quick, plus at Walgreen’s you can sit and eat as well.

Getting Around: Being one of the most walkable cities of the world, you could walk to most places. The weather and enough pedestrian friendly roads and sidewalks permit that. You could also take day passes of the MUNI, which is San Francisco’s bus and train/subway system. Getting in and out of the airport, you could use the BART trains. We used plenty of BART to go to Oakland and back. From the airport you could even take the Shuttle Vans. For the two of us, it was cheaper than Uber. You could also rent a car or a bike. We downloaded a free offline San Francisco map from Here WeGo (formerly Nokia Here Maps). It helped us walk around and did not consume internet data, which on roaming can be prohibitively expensive.

Around and near San Francisco: There is plenty to do around SFO. A drive to Napa Valley is good for exploration, but we found it too crowded and touristy. Try Sonoma County instead. Lovely vineyards and cafes and much less crowded. Go for a walk in the John Muir Woods of Giant Redwoods. Visit Monterey, a classic old city which was also the capital of California till 1849. The drive to Monterey is gorgeous, full of picture perfect scenery. You could visit the University town of Berkeley and also the old cultural town of Oakland. If you wanted to travel a bit further, visit the Yosemite National Park. Take the drive via the Big Sur, the most magnificent drive in America. San Francisco to Los Angeles via the Highway 1. Go down to Carmel and eat at Hogg’s Breath Inn (it’s expensive though), a hotel once owned by Clint Eastwood and later sold to a close friend.

15 thoughts on “San Francisco : The City To Fall In Love With”

  1. Great photos of San Francisco! Brought back some memories! I used to live in Bay Area and visited San Francisco many times!

    There are lot of events that happen in San Francisco all through out the year and I attended many events!

    The clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl is worth a trip to Pier 39 wharf!

  2. What beautiful images of the city I wish to see the most in the U.S.! I noticed that some of your photos were taken on a cloudy day, and the others when the skies were blue. Did the weather change happen in one day or in a few days’ span?

    • Hi Bama! Good observation! The weather was changing from cloudy to rainy to sunny! We were there in March when its cold and rains a lot. But it has its own charm. Luckily we only had drizzles and not outpours.

  3. What a coincidence…I recently watched ‘Milk’ – a biopic on Harvey Milk.. I could so very well relate to the cultural waves that swept this city right from Gold Rush, to Gay Movement and now a good part of India being the part of IT Gold Rush. The city through your lens looks amazing. Great frames, lovely buildings and beautiful landscapes.

    • Hu Bushra! Yes ‘Milk’ does give a very unique perspective to SFO. Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad are all India’s IT destinations and I love all three cities too!


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