The classic Tony Bennett tune “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” rings true to millions of travelers for a reason. Just about anyone who’s had the fortune of visiting The Golden City can sympathize — the eclectic architecture, amazing dim sum, majestic, fog-shrouded Golden Gate Bridge — all of it, will steal your heart and leave you aching for more.
Perched on the tip of a peninsula and sandwiched between the Pacific and the San Francisco Bay, SF is a funky melting pot of artists, hippies, hipsters, immigrants, entrepreneurs, young startup founders and more. And the city beholds endless possibilities for amusement — people watching in Dolores Park, admiring the famous Painted Ladies and other ornate brownstones that seem to be in every color scheme imaginable, or strolling down the rainbow studded sidewalks of the Castro.
Sure, the weather can be a little finicky (SF has its own microclimate after all), and some streets are so steep you have to hunch down to walk up, but it’s all worth it. Especially once you find yourself in burrito bliss in the Mission, or pastry nirvana at the temple (AKA Tartine Bakery), as you bite into the best croissant of your life, flakey shards of pastry strewn all over your lap. It’s a wonderfully quirky and colorful city.
A quick jaunt over the bridge (no, not Big Red, that other one), will lead you into Oakland — San Francisco’s scrappy little sister who’s growing into her own. Other than the Golden State Warriors, Oakland didn’t have much to offer and no one ventured there unless they were trying to skirt the steep hotel costs in SF.
But things have changed. The formerly gritty town not even on tourists’ radars is now a place people make a point to visit when they’re in the Bay Area. Having undergone (and still undergoing) a revitalization, Oakland has attracted tourists, foodies, and residents as it continues to be a city on the rise. Sure, it’s still a bit rough around the edges, but the hip neighborhoods, diverse culture, killer food scene, and more affordable curb appeal, have people comparing it to Brooklyn.
So are you ready to pack your bags and have a love affair with these cities by the bay? Happy trails!