San Francisco, California, has long been America’s shining city by the sea: a beacon on the West Coast that boomed during the gold rush of 1849 and, for much of the 20th century, embodied the sunny California dream. It has always been a city of dreamers, a place that appeals both to the country’s counterculture and also, ironically, to those looking to strike it rich. The Summer of Love unfolded here in 1967, while today it is the epicenter of the Internet economy, enjoying yet another period of expansion.
One thing has remained constant throughout its colorful history—the city’s enviable location at the tip of a peninsula separating San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. Around every corner and from every hilltop, views of the water and the city’s bridges wait to be photographed.
San Francisco’s appeal has also owed much to its role as one of the Pacific Rim’s major metropolises. Its restaurants and neighborhoods reflect a population that includes communities of people originally from Asia and Latin America, and the city proudly embraces its multiculturalism. Finally, if you want to venture beyond San Francisco, some of California’s most celebrated attractions are nearby, from the soaring redwoods of Muir Woods to the infamous Alcatraz Island in the middle of the bay.