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50Isea&iIAUTUMN 2011still remains a great favourite thanks to its impressive location,rich history and endearinglyelegant private-homeambiance. With over 3,000 choices, it's no wonder San Francisco is knownas the US's finest restaurant city. Perbacco Ristorante and Baris a classy Italian with a touch of Provence thrown in. Try thechef's table to sample the finest food fresh from the localFarmer's Market. The Michelin-starred One Marketat the SanFrancisco Embarcadero provides a benchmark for sophisticateddining, while Japanese lovers should try Bushi-tei, where ablend of Asian and French influences result in pure art on a plate.After-dinner hours are well spent at the Redwood Roomat theClift Hotel. Recently restored, it still has its original redwoodpanelling and enormous bar along with digital artwork on hugescreens. Sip Bar & Loungeis a welcoming urban cocktail venueon Broadway Street. Fisherman's Wharf, meanwhile, has a rangeof eateries and bars in one scenic waterfront location. ItsParlor Bar,Lounge & Clubis great for cocktails, music and yesteryearappeal. Harry Denton's Starlight Roomat the Sir Francis DrakeHotel offers 1930s' glamour, cocktails and wraparound views.Order a VIP booth for a truly exclusive experience.Union Squareis a vast shopping plaza with one of the largestcollections of department stores, boutiques, galleries andsalons in the US - as such it's one of the world's most excitingplaces to shop. Union Square also refers to the neighbouringblocks that accommodate numerous hotels and thetheatre district. Pier 39is an entirely different kettle of fish.One of San Francisco's leading visitor attractions, it is a water-front hub of shops, restaurants, nightlife and museums. Headto the wharf to savour award-winning clam chowderserved in sourdough bread bowls, rent a bike to see the sightsashore, then hop on a sportfishing boat for an afternoon inthe bay. Don't leave without seeing the sea lions thatcluster around the west of the pier. For alternative colour andcharm, the Farmer's Marketat Ferry Building Marketplace is amust for gourmands on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. If you're limited for time, the Inner Richmondis a microcosmof the city with its vast urban parks, tree-lined streets, cuisineand shopping, embracing Thai, Korean, Russian, Japanese, Irishand Chinese cultures. Museums and galleriesto visitinclude the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art(SFMOMA)and the California Academy of Scienceswith its aquarium,rain-forest and natural history museum. Top of the list has to be crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Youcan walk or cycle across this mammoth of acclaimedengineeringand have your photo taken on one of the mostphotographed objects on Earth. The cable cars have beenClockwise from top right:the Fairmont; an aerialview of the city; the RitzCarlton; serious curb-sideappeal; sweet dreams atthe Four Seasons; catcha tram ride while youÕrein town; the Coit Tower;the Golden Gate Bridge;the San Francisco skyline

AUTUMN 2011I sea&iI51ploughing up and down the city's trademark hills since 1873 anddemand a ride. You'll hear their iconic bells clanging from blocksaway, and they promise a great view of the city.Chinatown, as in most countries, is a colourful city within acity, with its heart occupying the oldest street in San Francisco:Grant Avenue. Marvel at all the exotic shops, markets, templesand herb shops and treat yourself to fortune cookies for the rideback to your hotel.Journey to the middle of San Francisco Bayto discover theintriguing island ofAlcatrazand its infamous former prison,from which no inmate ever escaped. The stories have fuelledbooks, films and legends, so see 'The Rock' for yourself witha cell-house tour. If you have a morning free, head to the Italianquarter at North Beach(confusingly, not a beach at all) andwander the cafŽs and shops before making your way to theChurch of Saints Peter and Paul, and the Coit ToweronTelegraph Hill, where you'll enjoy a great photo-opp of thebridges and bay. The 1,000-acre Golden Gate Parkis also agreat day out with its gardens, carousel, lakes, 4,000 speciesof trees, and museums - including the city's oldest: the deYoung Museum, which is showing masterpieces from Picassountil October this year. The Missionis also a charismaticneigh-bourhood for arts and culture with its medley of streets full offood vendors, galleries and theatres. Buy yourself a treat at theTartine Bakery and walk to Dolores Parkto enjoy it whilewatching the world go by.nAT A GLANCE.Best travel time:June and July are peak tourist months, andMarch to May and September to early November are ideal formild sunny days. San Francisco Bay will host the 2013 AmericaÕsCup Finals and the Louis Vuitton Cup (AmericaÕs Cup ChallengerSeries). This will be the first time the AmericaÕs Cup has beenhosted in the US since 1995Currency:US dollarLanguage:EnglishVibe:for lovers of art, culture, sport, literature and cuisine,the city deals out serious attractions with effortless stylecityguidePhotography: Shutterstock / Christine Krieg / Four Seasons / All rights reserved