In the post war world the name "San Francisco" has become synonymous with the cultural revolution of the 1960’s. The city’s reputation as the liberal bulwark of America, it is also unofficially seen as the gay capital of the world with a large LGBT population in the Castro-Noe valley area of the city. The iconic image of the Golden Gate Bridge has been spread around the world by the entertainment industry of San Francisco’s southern neighbour L.A.
The city is famous for the scenic beauty of the bay and the surrounding area, yet the city itself is also remarkably pleasing aesthetically. San Francisco has a very European feel to the design of many of the buildings, especially in the more affluent residential areas of the city. The steep hills upon which the city is built lead to the development of the famous tram system that, although much reduced in extended coverage today, is very popular with visitors to the city. When discussing the iconic images of San Francisco one must consider the Golden Gate Bridge, which spans the entrance to the bay. When the bridge was completed in 1937 it was the largest suspension bridge in the world. The image of the bridge visible above the dense fogs that roll in over the bay is arguably only bettered as an evocative image of the city by the image of the bridge illuminated at night; any trip to San Francisco must include a visit to this engineering marvel.
In a city defined by its relationship with the bay it is somewhat apt that one of the major draws for any tourist in San Francisco is the Fisherman’s Wharf region of the city. Every year the Wharf attracts millions of visitors to its numerous and eclectic attractions including; the sea lions at Pier 39, the Maritime Museum, the chocolate factory at Ghirardelli Square, Hyde St Pier, and of course the infamous Alcatraz. There are also some great vistas overlooking the Bay, and a plethora of restaurants to enjoy them from. Additionally, many people visit the Wharf to either take a ferry or a cruise around the Bay, many companies offer harbour tours of varying durations and prices but they all provide marvellous views of the bay, the bridges and the island of Alcatraz. Only specific island tours are allowed to land at Alcatraz, but the typical harbour tour will circle the now-inactive prison from the water at a slow crawl.
San Francisco offers a wide range of accommodations, from a healthy supply of hostels and budget hotels to the lavish, luxurious hotels in the city centre. The majority of accommodations are in the north-eastern portion of the city, in and around the popular areas of Downtown, Chinatown, and Fisherman's Wharf.
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