Officially the City and County of San Francisco (map), is a cultural, commercial, and financial center in Northern California. San Francisco was founded on June 29, 1776, when colonists from Spain established the Presidio of San Francisco at the *Golden Gate.
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San Francisco is known for its cool summers, fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of architecture, and landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge (map), cable cars, the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary (map), Fisherman’s Wharf (map), and its *Chinatown district (map).
Several of San Francisco’s parks and nearly all of its beaches form part of the regional Golden Gate National Recreation Area (map), one of the most visited units of the National Park system in the United States.
The city is a fantastic base to explore the treasures of San Francisco’s neighbors to the east across the Bay Bridge, to the north past the Golden Gate Bridge, and to the south down the peninsula.
San Francisco is a “foodie” city with a vast array of restaurants. In fact, San Francisco has more restaurants per capita than any major city in North America.
+ San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department. The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department currently manages more than 220 parks, playgrounds and open spaces throughout San Francisco, including two outside city limits—Sharp Park in Pacifica and Camp Mather in the High Sierras.
You can find maps that include hiking trails, bikeways, and the grade pitch of all streets marked in varying colors by how steep each segment is, that can help you orient to city walks suitable to your ability and temperament, such as the downloadable map issued by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
The best time to visit San Francisco is late September through October, when it is relatively the warmest. All year long, it never gets too cold for winter clothing, and it rarely gets warm enough for shorts and sandals. Fall in particular is a good time to visit because the summer wind & fog has mostly gone, but the rainy season has not yet started.
The areas that one should be most cautious are in the neighborhoods of Bayview-Hunters Point, Visitacion Valley, Sunnydale, Ingleside, and Potrero Hill in Southeast San Francisco, as well as the Tenderloin, parts of Western Addition (including the Fillmore District), and parts of the Mission.
Tobacco smokers beware: as in the rest of California, smoking is illegal in bars, restaurants, and other public places. On the other hand, smoking marijuana is remarkably well-tolerated.
San Francisco is now widely considered the most important city in the world for new technology startups (crunchbase.com).