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The colorful Golden Gate Bridge sends travelers north toward Marin County and Sonoma Valley wine country.
SAN FRANCISCO — From the sprawling Golden Gate Bridge to the quaint cable cars, San Francisco is a scenic, vibrant town at the edge of the continent. Its renowned for its year-round comfortable climate, many cultural attractions, unique topography and world-class cuisine. It’s an iconic city — one that people really want to see.
In fact, more and more people are coming to see Everybody’s Favorite City, as San Francisco is sometimes known, or just “The City,” as the locals refer to it. But calling it “Frisco” marks one as a bit of a rube who doesn’t get its vibe. San Francisco welcomed 16.51 million visitors in 2012, an increase of 1% from 2011, according to a report by The San Francisco Travel Association. Those visitors also spent $8.93 billion in 2012, up 5.5% from the previous year.
With Silicon Valley just an hour south of San Francisco, the city conducts technology and trade commerce on a global scale. This high-tech metro region is home to Google, Facebook, Intel and Yahoo, just to name a few, and there’s no shortage of business travelers needing chauffeured service.
San Francisco is also an ideal launching point for exploring Northern California. Travelers often seek transport for outbound day-trips: Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley wine countries are only about an hour north of the city, while just 20 minutes south on Highway 1, begins a string of popular beach towns such as Pacifica and Half Moon Bay, situated near stunning Pacific Ocean cliffs.
Conventions held in San Francisco attract attendees from all over the world, particularly in the medical, legal, scientific and hi-tech fields. The Moscone Convention Center is the city’s premier convention facility, offering 900,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space. The complex boasts three buildings — Moscone North, Moscone South and Moscone West — with 106 meeting rooms and four ballrooms. More than 20,000 hotel rooms lie within a few-block radius. The city is on pace to hit its annual goal of 2,105,500 booked room nights for conventions.
A State-of-the-Art Airport
The San Francisco International Airport, known as SFO, has the largest international terminal in North America. SFO offers non-stop flights to more than 31 international destinations on 28 international carriers. The Bay Area’s largest airport connects non-stop with more than 74 cities in the U.S. on 17 domestic airlines. SFO is 15 miles south of The City or 30 minutes from downtown. It’s also home to the world’s only accredited museum at an airport, featuring rotating exhibits throughout the terminals and an Aviation Museum & Library. SFO is the seventh busiest airport in the U.S. by passenger count (44,399,885), according to Airports Council International’s 2012 statistics.
Big Hills & Spectacular Scenery
San Francisco is built on a series of more than 43 hills, offering many panoramic views of the Bay. But getting up those hills is no joke. The city’s steepest street is Filbert, with a 31.5% grade. There’s an old trope that, “When you get tired of walking around in San Francisco, you can always lean against it.”
With a rich arts scene and as the birthplace of classic rock acts such as Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, you may not think of San Francisco as a sports town. Yet, between The City and neighboring Oakland and San Jose, the Bay Area boasts six major sports teams: the 49ers, Raiders, Giants, A’s, Golden State Warriors, and Sharks.
Other Famous landmarks: Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Chinatown, Union Square, North Beach, Ghirardelli Square, Twin Peaks, Haight/Ashbury, the Castro District and Mission Dolores.
3 Key Places to Know
1. Union Square: The public plaza and surrounding area at the heart of the city, are known for being one of the largest collections of department stores, upscale boutiques, gift shops, art galleries and beauty salons in the U.S.
2. Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf: The most visited section of San Francisco, featuring street performers, fresh seafood, and curiosity shops.
3. Alcatraz Island: The former federal prison, once housed some of the most notorious criminals. Today it’s a national park, reachable by a brief boat ride.