Ahh, San Francisco. In the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." As the west coast's urban playground, the City by the Bay captivates with its cosmopolitan lifestyle, cultural opportunities and quirky attractions. Although renowned for its liberal politics, breathtaking scenery and romantic allure, San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is often the first image that comes to mind. While this architectural masterpiece and modern Wonder of the World is an engineering beauty, it is only one of this city's treasures.
There's Alcatraz Island, where residents were granted million dollar views from quarters they could not leave--now a swim start for racing triathletes who prove that they could have escaped. There's Chinatown, the largest Chinese community outside of the mainland, where shoulder to shoulder crowds flood its 24 block maze and fortune cookies are sold hot off the press (Golden Gate Cookie Factory in Ross Alley). Most colorful, Haight Ashbury's free-loving, hippie vibe beats loudly in a place where tie-dye is worn by more than a few grizzly old men. And San Francisco's long arms of acceptance embrace gay and lesbian activists who thrive well outside the walk-in closet. There are the trolley cars, the "crookedest" street, the touristy Wharf and Ghiradelli's chocolate. And those hills, oh those mini-mountain hills, which are good for two things: Views at the top and glute-building on the way up.
Like New York, this city is so deep in character and spirit, you just have to visit.