San Francisco, California: Unforgettable Urban Escape
By Ainy Gu
When you come to Northern California’s urban gem, San Francisco, you will notice that every community here has its own distinctive features, from the diverse and Bohemian Upper Haight to the luxury Union Square. However, before you delve into the city’s many neighborhoods, it’s good to start with the world-famous attractions that you’ve seen in the movies, just like I did. From eye-popping landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Painted Ladies houses to the famed waterfront, I was in awe of all the ways I could explore San Francisco!
Iconic Waterfront Attractions
When you visit San Francisco’s waterfront attractions, such as Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, and breathe in the morning air, you’re greeted not only with the fresh sea air but also the smell of delicious seafood dishes being prepared. Walking along the pier, you will discover a variety of stores, restaurants, snack bars, and observation decks.
I always head to the second floor first because that’s always the best place to get an amazing view of the pier as well as those adorable sea lions. From Fisherman’s Wharf, if you love adventure, you can catch a ferry to the infamous Alcatraz Island. Now a national park, it was once famous as the harshest federal prison in the U.S.
High-end Destination Union Square
For a neighborhood that combines shopping and dining in San Francisco, my first choice is Union Square. This one-block plaza and the surrounding areas is full of department stores, upscale boutiques, gift shops and beauty salons, making it one of the world's premier shopping districts. A gathering of the most popular commercial centers, Union Square undoubtedly is a shopping heaven. As if shopping wasn't enough for you, it also boasts many fine art galleries, some of the best restaurants in the city, and it also serves as San Francisco's main theater district, featuring many Broadway and off-Broadway shows.
Apart from the various choices of delicious Western food in San Francisco, there is also a place for your authentic Chinese food fix – Chinatown. Established in the 1840s, San Francisco's Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia. No matter if you crave Hong Kong Boba Milk tea or delicious Beijing Duck, you can fulfill almost anything your appetite seeks here. In addition, Chinatown is also wonderful to visit to experience its history, culture and shops.
The Bright Lights of the Bay Bridge
If you wanted to take an amazing photo of the most beautiful, breathtaking view of the San Francisco, the Bay Bridge at night is your place. The spectacular lighting installation made the Bay Bridge the world's largest energy-efficient dynamic light construction. Looking at the lights of the Bay Bridge as the sun sets and the city lights turn on will forever be in your memory of this beautiful city.
San Francisco undoubtedly has my vote for the most beautiful American city. It is a free-spirited place where people come to find themselves, and what's most special about San Francisco is the surprises you can get every time you visit.