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Vacation San Francisco

Tourist Guide

San Francisco
City of Food and Fog

The sea lion population at Pier 39 in San Francisco peaks at about 600 animals in January and February
The sea lion population at Pier 39 peaks at about 600 animals
in January and February


Teashops, herb pharmacies and vegetable stands line the streets in San Francisco's colorful Chinatown district
The colorful Chinatown district

People love San Francisco for its blending of cultures. And there’s no place in the city where this is more evident than at the entrance to Chinatown. The colorful crossroads of Grant and Bush streets are dominated by the majestic entrance to “Little China.” Yet just across the street is a café that transports you instantly to Paris. Café de la Presse is the best spot for a café au lait and croque monsieur to start your day — you can even buy the paper in English or French.

After indulging, step under the red and green pagodas on Grant Street and into an entirely new world. Instead of streetlights there are Chinese lanterns. Buildings are adorned with signs written both in English and the graceful Chinese alphabet. Teashops, herb pharmacies and vegetable stands line the streets. If you have the time, book a spot with a Wok Wiz public walking tour of the area that includes visits to Buddhist temples, a tea ceremony, an optional dim sum lunch and wealth of local history.

Absinthe is an anchor of the fashionable Hayes Valley dining scene
The stylish Absinthe

Next, head over to the beautiful Asian Art Museum near the Civic Center and City Hall (take the street car west along Market Street). The museum houses one of the largest collections of ancient and contemporary Asian art in the Western world, displayed in a world-class building designed by Gae Aulenti. Dress for dinner at Jardinière, Traci Des Jardins's celebrated Art-Deco restaurant near City Hall and the Opera House. Absinthe Brasserie & Bar is known for its roster of vintage cocktails and excellent raw bar.

Continue to Day 3



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* Chinatown image by Phillip H. Coblentz, Skyline by Trish Foxwell and Chinatown flower market courtesy of San Francisco Travel

(Updated: 02/08/13 CT)

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