San Francisco became an American city at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848. It might have continued as a small military outpost except for something else that happened that year – gold was discovered in nearby Sutter’s Mill. Gold fever quickly brought newcomers from all over the globe. Visitors today enjoy a modern, dynamic metropolis whose rich heritage is reflected in its art, food, architecture and cultural scenes.
No visit would be complete without seeing the Painted Ladies at Hayes and Steiner streets. These brightly colored Victorian houses are stunning against a backdrop of skyscrapers, especially as the sun sets in the bay. For those intrigued by 1960s counterculture, there is no better place to explore than the Haight-Ashbury District, where much of it began.
A city institution, The Fairmont offers incredible bay vistas from atop iconic Nob Hill. Guests can easily use the city’s cable car system to visit popular areas like Fisherman’s Wharf and Union Square. The hotel features over-the- top luxury, an onsite spa, an outdoor terrace and the widely renowned Tonga Room. The Palace Hotel offers an elegant, opulent ambiance with modern styling that keeps its historical elements intact. Highlights include its signature tea in the Garden Court and fresh fare and signature cocktails served up in the Pied Piper.
Try Spruce if you’re craving a neighborhood hangout vibe with stellar food and service. If your appetite is calling for dim sum, salt-and-pepper crab or abalone in oyster sauce, you can’t miss with Hong Kong II. If the occasion calls for creative cuisine with a California flair complete with a Michelin star, make a reservation at The Progress.
Check out more buzzworthy destinations at AAA.com/CityScape.