I recommend that if you have Family coming to town you should make them fly into San Francisco (SFO). The simple reason being that it then gives you the opportunity to meet them there and explore what is fast becoming my favorite US city. I’m not sure I could give up the Southern California climate for good as temperatures in SF can get chilly (lows in the 30’s and 40’s) during the Winter months.
We stayed at the Whitcomb Hotel on Market Street close to City Hall and only a 15 minute walk to the famous Union Square. The hotel was old but stylish. Market Street tends to have a few ‘characters’ roaming about but for the most part harmless. The homeless problem is part of visiting SF and it does make you very aware that there are many who are less fortunate.
Picking up the cable car at Powell Street you ride past Union Square and wind your way up and then down to Fisherman’s Wharf via a myriad of steep streets, wonderful views and an eclectic mixture of modern/victorian architecture. Everybody heads to pier 39….and so did we! It’s full of tourists watching big fat Sea Lions sunbath as well as taking photos across the bay to Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. Restaurants, bars and gift shops complete the scene in this bustling arena. On the way back we stopped at Lombard Street, the famously crooked street with 8 hairpin bends…..lots of photo opportunities in SF.
In subsequent visits I’ve started to explore Pacific Heights, The Presidio and Lands End. The Golden Gate Bridge never too far away. This area is most definitely more serene, compared to Union Square, and you can find some lovely restaurants (Sociale at 3665 Sacramento Street is a favorite) and boutiques.
The Architecture is often stunning right across the city and the Real Estate prices are Manhattan-esque. Go to San Francisco….go often!