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San Francisco Travel Guide - Travel S Helper

San Francisco

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San Francisco, formally the City and County of San Francisco, is Northern California’s cultural, commercial, and financial capital, as well as the state’s only combined city-county. San Francisco County has an area of around 46.9 square miles (121 km2) on the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula, making it the state’s smallest county. It has a population density of around 18,451 people per square mile (7,124 people per km2), making it the most densely inhabited significant city in the state of California (population larger than 200,000) and the second most densely populated major city in the United States after New York City. San Francisco is the fourth most populous city in California, after Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose, and the thirteenth most populated city in the United States, with an estimated 2015 population of 864,816 according to the Census Bureau. The city and its environs are collectively referred to as the San Francisco Bay Area. They are included in the larger OMB-designated San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland combined statistical area, which is the sixth most populous in the country with an estimated population of 8.7 million.

San Francisco (Spanish for Saint Francis) was created on June 29, 1776, when Spanish colonists erected the Presidio of San Francisco near the Golden Gate and the Mission San Francisco de Assisi a few miles away, both named after St. Francis of Assisi. The California Gold Rush of 1849 accelerated expansion, establishing Sacramento as the West Coast’s biggest metropolis at the time. In 1856, San Francisco was united as a city-county. After the 1906 earthquake and fire devastated three-quarters of the city, San Francisco was rebuilt fast and hosted the Panama-Pacific International Exposition nine years later. San Francisco served as the embarkation point for military men heading to the Pacific Theater during World War II. Following the war, the confluence of returning servicemen, massive immigration, liberalizing attitudes, the rise of the “hippie” counterculture, the Sexual Revolution, the Peace Movement, and other factors culminated in the Summer of Love and the gay rights movement, establishing San Francisco as a hub of liberal activism in the United States. Politically, the city leans heavily toward the liberal Democratic Party.

San Francisco is a renowned tourist destination noted for its mild summers, fog, steep rolling hills, diverse mix of architecture, and attractions such as the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Chinatown. San Francisco is also home to five major financial institutions and a variety of other businesses, including Levi Strauss & Co., Gap Inc.,, Dropbox, Reddit, Square, Inc., Dolby, Airbnb, Weebly, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Yelp, Pinterest, Twitter, Uber, Lyft, Mozilla, and the Wikimedia Foundation. It is known by a variety of nicknames, including “The City by the Bay,” “Fog City,” “San Fran,” and “Frisco,” as well as more traditional ones such as “The City that Knows How,” “Baghdad by the Bay,” “The Paris of the West,” and simply “The City.” As of 2015, San Francisco was recognized as one of the world’s most livable cities.

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San Francisco | Introduction

San Francisco – Info Card

POPULATION : • City and county 864,816
• Density 18,451/sq mi (7,124/km2)
• Metro 4,656,132 (11th)
• CSA 8,713,914 (5th)
FOUNDED :  Mission June 29, 1776
Incorporated April 15, 1850
TIME ZONE : • Time zone Pacific Time Zone (UTC−8)
• Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC−7)
LANGUAGE :  English
AREA : • City and county 231.89 sq mi (600.6 km2)
• Land 46.87 sq mi (121.4 km2)
• Water 185.02 sq mi (479.2 km2) 80.00%
• Metro 3,524.4 sq mi (9,128 km2)
ELEVATION : Highest elevation 934 ft (285 m)
Lowest elevation 0 ft (0 m)
COORDINATES :  37°47′N 122°25′W
AREA CODE :  415/628
POSTAL CODE : 94102–94105, 94107–94112, 94114–94134, 94137, 94139–94147, 94151, 94158–94161, 94163–94164, 94172, 94177, 94188

Tourism in San Francisco

San Francisco, the Bay Area’s epicenter, is one of the world’s most visited cities, and for good reason. San Francisco, the cultural epicenter of northern California, is recognized for its unique blend of natural beauty and culture, making it one of the most lively and desired cities in the country, if not the globe.

San Francisco, sandwiched between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean on a small square of land seven miles (11 kilometers) on each side, offers a wealth of treasures for the visitor, from the windswept and frequently foggy bay to the steep hills lined with Victorian homes that overlook the city’s spectacular scenery. The city’s many neighborhoods reflect the city’s ethnic and cultural variety, from the busy and vibrant streets of Chinatown to the eclectic attitudes of the Castro and the dazzling condominium skyscrapers constructed on the city’s newly acquired tech-savvy image.

Despite this, San Francisco is just one of the cities that comprise the San Francisco Bay Area. At the heart of a 7.6 million-person metropolitan region, the city serves as an excellent jumping-off point for exploring the wonders of San Francisco’s neighbors to the east over the Bay Bridge, to the north beyond the Golden Gate Bridge, and to the south along the peninsula. There is plenty to see to fill a lifetime, and it will become evident why people continue to make their way to this wonderful location.


San Francisco takes pride in its inclusiveness of people of many races, genders, sexual orientations, and personal styles. This characteristic is often regarded as one of the city’s distinguishing characteristics, attracting both tourists and transplants.

English is the most widely spoken language in San Francisco. San Francisco has the second biggest Chinese population in the United States, behind New York City, and Cantonese is widely spoken across the city’s numerous Chinese-dominated areas, with an emerging Mandarin-speaking minority. As with all of California, San Francisco has a sizable Latin American population, and Spanish is widely spoken, particularly in the Mission District. The majority of municipal government services are provided in the following languages: English, Cantonese, and Spanish.

Tobacco smokers beware: smoking is prohibited in bars, restaurants, and other public areas, just as it is in the rest of California. Additionally, the City and County of San Francisco have enacted a municipal regulation requiring smokers to go entirely to the curb (or if there is no curb, at least 25 feet from any building – not simply the entrances). As of January 2013, enforcement is uneven, and the likelihood of being ticketed for smoking outside a restaurant or bar is small. People in the Bay Area may be extremely vociferous about their personal habits, so exercise caution and be attentive and considerate of others while smoking, even in locations where smoking is permitted.

On the other side, marijuana smoking is quite well tolerated. If you are traveling from another state in the United States, you may be shocked to learn that San Franciscans, and even the city’s police, do not see marijuana as an issue. While marijuana remains illegal under federal law, a 2006 statute designated marijuana as the SFPD’s lowest priority. This is not to say that you should smoke marijuana anyplace, but navigating the laws of politeness may be challenging. At major events, you will see individuals smoking marijuana, but not at small performances. In certain communities (e.g., Haight-Ashbury), you’ll see individuals smoking marijuana on a street corner throughout the day, yet it’s frowned upon in others (e.g., the Financial District).

In recent decades, some inhabitants have glorified public nakedness. However, there has been significant debate around public nudity in San Francisco in recent years. There is currently a legislation prohibiting various forms of public nakedness, which nudists are actively protesting.

It’s worth noting that inhabitants generally despise many of the city’s nicknames. Rather of using the abbreviations “San Fran,” “Frisco,” or “SFO,” the majority of people refer to San Francisco by its entire name or simply “The City.”

The Bay Area is home to one of the world’s most active high-tech startup environments. While the majority of venture capital companies are concentrated in the South Bay, the majority of small businesses and tech employees are concentrated in San Francisco.


Tourism is the city’s biggest private sector employer, accounting for more than one in every seven employment. Due to the city’s frequent representation in music, cinema, and popular culture, the city and its monuments are instantly identifiable on a global scale. It receives the fifth-highest number of international visitors of any American city and is ranked among the top 100 most visited cities globally by Euromonitor International. In 2014, San Francisco welcomed almost 18 million tourists, pouring US$10.67 billion into the economy. San Francisco is a popular location for yearly meetings and conferences due to its extensive hotel infrastructure and world-class convention facilities, the Moscone Center.

Pier 35 is now used by the port to service the 60–80 cruise ship visits and 200,000 people who visit San Francisco each year. From San Francisco, itineraries often include round-trip cruises to Alaska and Mexico. As a successor, the new Terminal Project at Pier 27 is slated to open in 2014. The present major terminal at Pier 35 lacks both the capacity to accommodate growing cruise ship sizes and the facilities required for an international cruise port.

Increased interest in conventioneering in San Francisco, as evidenced by the establishment of convention centers such as Yerba Buena, acted as a feeder into the local tourist economy, resulting in an expansion of the hotel industry: “In 1959, the city had fewer than thirty-three hundred first-class hotel rooms; by 1970, the number had increased to nine thousand; and by 1999, the number had increased to over thirty thousand.” The Castro District’s commercialisation has benefited San Francisco’s tourism industry.


  • San Francisco Visitor Information Center, 900 Market St (next to the cable car turnaround at Market & Powell, near Union Square),  +1 415 391-2000, fax: +1 415 362-7323. May through October: M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa-Su and holidays 9AM-3PM. November through April: M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa and holidays 9AM-3PM. Closed Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
  • California Welcome Center, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Building P, Second Level,  +1 415 981-1280, e-mail:



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