San Francisco Bay Area – exceptional culture and nature
San Francisco has long been considered the cultural mecca of California’s northern coast. From the hippie-era nostalgia of Haight-Ashbury to the colorful Victorian architecture embellishing the predominantly gay Castro District, through Chinatown to Japantown, this hill-side city is all about neighborhoods. Hop on a streetcar to spend a day or a few hours in each to take in the distinctive look and energy of these ethnic environments. Among the don’t miss sights of the area is the ferry ride to explore Alcatraz, the former prison island in San Francisco Bay which is now a national park. Walk or bike across the famous Golden Gate Bridge, stretching 4,200 feet and towering as high as a 65-story building. It’s the gateway to San Francisco. Known as the "crookedest" street in the world, Lombard Street’s steep hills and sharp curves alongside grand Victorian mansions attract millions of visitors each year. For great shopping, there’s Fisherman’s Warf, where such famous sites as The Wax Museum, Haunted Gold Mine, Laser Maze and Medieval Dungeon can be found. At adjoining Pier 39 vacationers love watching the sea lion colony along the rocks and then taking in the non-stop activity available through rides, entertainment, restaurants, shops and lively street musicians. A short drive away is the Muir Woods National Monument, a coastal redwood preserve, named for conservationist John Muir, featuring majestic redwoods and scenic trails. A myriad of fine museums and galleries are also worth exploring, including the acclaimed San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Numerous vacation villas, condominiums and estate homes are available throughout San Francisco and surrounding regions to add an extra element of personal style to any Bay area vacation.
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