San Francisco
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San Francisco, California

San Francisco is on the coast of California about 400 miles north of Los Angeles. It is situated along the shore of a large bay sheltered behind the California Coastal Mountains. The city is renown for its steep streets with panoramic views of beautiful San Francisco Bay and the surrounding mountains. It has a very moderate climate with warm summers and chilly winters but without extremes. Constant breezes off of the Pacific Ocean keep the summers from becoming too hot and also prevent freezing winter weather. Take a sweater, as the evening breezes can be quite brisk all year round!

Cable Car© Corel
It is easier to take a bus or taxi to the downtown area where you can quickly board a passing cable car.

San Francisco was built by "forty niners" with gold fever

Oakland and Berkeley, California lie just across the bay from San Francisco and are easily accessible via the Bay Bridge. The more famous Golden Gate Bridge spans the narrow inlet that extends from the Pacific Ocean into the bay. The Golden Gate Bridge connects San Francisco with a mountainous peninsula called the Marin headlands that is primarily known for beautiful scenery and expensive homes with spectacular views. Sausalito, a small village on the bay shore of the Marin headlands is famous as a local artist's community.   Alcatraz Island with its abandoned prison is situated in the middle of San Francisco Bay. The city of San Jose lies about 30 miles south of San Francisco at the southern tip of this extensive bay. The area near San Jose and Santa Clara is known as "Silicon Valley", home of the largest concentration of electronics and computer firms in the USA.

San Francisco was founded in 1776 when father Junipero Serra constructed the mission San Dolores to Christianize the local native Indian population. At the same time, Spanish troops constructed a Presidio, or fort, to protect this colony for the Queen of Spain. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the village of Yerba Buena, consisting of whalers, traders, adventurers and pirates, occupied the present site of San Francisco. In 1848, gold was discovered in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains about 100 miles to the east. By 1849, San Francisco was inundated with "forty-niners" as the gold seekers were commonly called, and the population of the city exploded. Ever since, it has remained the center of commerce, entertainment, culture and tourism for Northern California.

Cable cars on steep streets overlook a turquoise San Francisco Bay

San Francisco is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the USA. Steep streets lined with Victorian era houses, a great turquoise bay surrounded by low mountains, and antique cable cars that still shuttle passengers up and down the city slopes all make San Francisco one of the most picturesque cities in the US.

Photo of Mike
Mike's San Francisco Tip: To best see the famous San Francisco cable cars, go to the terminus a few blocks from Fisherman's Wharf where you can watch them manually turn the cars. To best photograph them, walk a few blocks up the hill and wait for a cable car, so you can photograph it with a backdrop of San Francisco Bay and Alcatraz. To ride one, it is best to go to the other end of the line in downtown where the crowds are smaller and the wait is shorter.

The city has developed a unique character from its mixture of diverse cultures including Native American Indians, Spanish colonials, gold seeking adventurers and numerous European, African and Asian immigrants. This is reflected in the great San Francisco cuisine found in the many fabulous restaurants of the city.