48 Hours In
48 hours in ... San Francisco
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San Francisco has evolved from the fog of the hippie 1960s to a city that now likes to celebrate diversity with a serious amount of glitter. Wherever you go in San Francisco, you can bet on these two things: "quirks" and "hills".
Snack: Housed in the historic ferry building anchored by the harbour, the Ferry Building Marketplace is home of the San Fran artisan markets that sells everything from fresh cheese to just baked breads and other local organic delights. If you're after something a little more eclectic, head over to Hot Cookie, located in the middle of Castro district, famed as the epicentre of San Francisco's gay community. The tiny bakery rolls out an overflowing selection of cookies that are second to none. There are also several obscenely shaped treats, paying homage to the cities "live and let live" attitude.
Sleep: Right in the middle of town, Hotel Triton echoes the artistic soul of San Francisco, with bold and creative touches that personalise each room and provide homely comfort at the end of a long day.
See: San Francisco's heart lies at the centre of Golden Gate Park. Though the mouthpiece at the top of Haight Street is often overrun with panhandlers, you only need to venture a little further inland to experience the beauty of the city. Visit the Conservatory of Flowers, which is home to more than 10,000 plants. Or check out the $200 million copper-clad M.H. de Young Museum, which features American art from the 17th through to the 20th centuries, along with works of natives from the Americas, Africa and the Pacific.
Stroll: The traditionally working class Mexican area of Mission District is often overlooked for more crowd-accommodating Union Square, but it's a lively mix of diverse bars, stores and busy cafes that put the kibosh on the idea that Americans don't get coffee (check out Four Barrels – if the lines are anything to go by you've come to the right place). It's also surrounded by one of the few blessedly flat surfaces of S.F, so strolling along the streets of Mission and Valencia will give your aching legs a little reprieve. Walk a little further upwards where you'll hit Dolores Park, a peak that affords a panoramic view of the colourful box houses and a chance to truly appreciate just how cramped San Francisco is.
Shop: Wandering around the Mission will also provide plenty of shopping opportunities, with storefronts boasting everything from antique furniture to taxidermy and all things kitsch. For a more conventional spot of shopping, Union Square is bound by the dependable shopping delights, with Macy's, H&M (there are two within a half mile proximity) and a newly opened three story Uniqlo the prizes at the end of an uphill trek, plus there are plenty of upscale stores located in the Westfield Shopping Centre.
Sip: At the corner of 17th and Valencia there are dozens of bars for a drink. Etcetera wine bar showcases an impressive selection of wines and when you're this close to wine county, it would be rude not to indulge. For some music and a vibe that reverberates with traces of the by-gone hippie gen, head to the neighbourhood bar Amnesia. If you're after somewhere that takes itself a little more seriously, park yourself at the bar at Bourbon and Branch – but you'll need to check out their website first, you won't get in without a password.
Savor: Slanted Door is Charles Phan's widely acclaimed Vietnamese restaurant. With floor-to-ceiling windows, the restaurant overlooks the harbour. Indulge in a menu that mixes Vietnamese street food and ingenious seafood entrees while taking in the stunning views.