San Francisco

Other cities may surprise you, but in San Francisco you will surprise yourself.

Good times and social revolutions tend to start here, from manic gold rushes to blissful hippie 'be-ins'. If there's a skateboard move yet to be busted, a technology still unimagined, a poem left unspoken or a green scheme untested, chances are it's about to happen here. Yes, right now. This town has lost almost everything in earthquakes and dot-com gambles, but never its nerve.

Food & Drink

Every available Bay Area–invented technology is needed to make dinner decisions in this city, with the most restaurants and farmers markets per capita in North America – all supplied by pioneering local organic farms. San Francisco set the gold standard for Wild West saloons, until drinking was driven underground in the 1920s with Prohibition. Today San Francisco celebrates its historic saloons and speakeasies – and with Wine Country and local distillers providing a steady supply of America's finest hooch, the West still gets wild nightly.

Natural Highs

San Francisco is a 7-by-7-mile peninsula that looks like California's thumb, pointed optimistically upwards. Take this as a hint to look up: you'll notice San Francisco's crooked Victorian rooflines, wind-sculpted treetops, and fog tumbling over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Heads are perpetually in the clouds atop San Francisco's 48 hills. Cable cars provide easy access to Russian and Nob Hills, and splendid panoramas reward the slog up to Coit Tower. Earn exhilarating highs on Telegraph Hill's garden-lined stairway walks, and windswept hikes around Lands End. If there's another kind of high you're seeking in San Francisco, that can also be arranged: marijuana is legal here for adults 18 and over with ID, and dispensaries and delivery are at your service.

Neighborhood Microclimates

Microclimates add magic realism to San Francisco days: when it's drizzling in the outer reaches of Golden Gate Park, it might be sunny in the Mission. A difference of a few degrees between neighborhoods grants permission for salted-caramel ice cream in Dolores Park, or a hasty retreat to tropical heat inside the California Academy of Sciences' rainforest dome. This town will give you goose bumps one minute, and warm you to the core the next.

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San Francisco's 20 best parks to relax in

11 min read — Published July 8th, 2021

Lonely Planet EditorsWriter

Regularly ranked as the greenest city in North America, San Francisco blooms with parks, gardens and pockets of green space. These are the best.

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Planning Toolkit

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These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout San Francisco.

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Whether it’s a guided tour of a historic landmark, private tasting of local delicacies, or an off-road adventure — explore the best experiences in San Francisco.

Featured videos

Take a magical road trip on California's Highway 1

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