Golden Gate Bridge (credit: Randy Yagi)
Most everyone has more than just one reason to visit San Francisco. Some will say it’s the celebrated art scene, while others may say it’s for the cable cars and the crooked streets. But what about visiting the City by the Bay over winter break, when it’s likely to be chiller and possibly wetter? The winter months are typically mild around the Bay Area, and it’s also the time of the year when lodging rates are at its lowest. If that still isn’t enough, here are five more reasons to visit San Francisco for winter break.
If you have never been to San Francisco, what would you like to se first? Chances are, you’ll want to see the Bay Area’s most treasured landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge. Fortunately, you can view the world’s most photographed bridge at a number of spots from the touristy Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 to the San Francisco Presidio’s Crissy Field or on the north side of the bridge in the Marin Headlands. But if you really want to see the 1.7-mile long bridge, why not walk or cycle across it? As long as the weather cooperates, just remember to bring something warm to wear, since it can get pretty windy along what may be the most beautiful bridge in the world.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
A visit to the Golden Gate Recreation Area is actually quite misleading. That’s because not all of it is confined within the city of San Francisco and is more than double the size of the city. Considered to be one of the largest urban parks in the world, this protected area covers more than 80,000 acres and is a collection of several places to visit, including many of the top attractions in the Bay Area, in addition to multiple camping sites, beaches and the Marin Headlands Hostel. Among the best-known destinations to see during a winter break visit are the Muir Woods, Marin Headlands, the Presidio of San Francisco, Lands End and the most famous of all, Alcatraz Island.
San Francisco Nightlife
It’s not New Orleans or Memphis and it’s certainly not Las Vegas. But for more than 50 years, San Francisco has had its own unique music scene, cultivating many of the top music artists in the industry and the location for a wealth of music venues, from historic spots like The Fillmore, The Warfield and the Great American Music Hall to dance club and smaller venues like Slim’s and The Independent. Other amazing places to go are Matrix Fillmore, Ruby Skye, The Chapel, and one of the hottest new venues, Verso. Winter breakers should also check out upcoming events from ESNTLSF, one of the city’s leading promoters for restaurants, nightclubs, bars and lounges. If that’s not enough, San Francisco also boasts three of the World’s 50 Best Bars: Smuggler’s Cove, Trick Dog and Tommy’s, more than any other American city except New York City.
One of the major contributing factors to what makes San Francisco one of the world’s top destinations is its food. It’s been said many times before, but San Francisco has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the country, meaning there are thousands of eateries that can fit anyone’s budget. San Francisco is also home to four three-star Michelin restaurants, a distinction bestowed among only the world’s finest restaurants. But for winter breakers on a budget, there are literally thousands of other great places to dine. Here is just a small sampling of spots to consider: Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, Mama’s on Washington Square, La Taqueria, Ike’s Place, Bi-Rite Market and San Tung Chinese Restaurant. Lastly, visitors should not miss out on visiting the Ferry Building Marketplace or sampling exceptional food from any of the amazing food trucks scattered all over the city.
More Attractions, More Food And More Reasons
Quite simply, there are far too many reasons to visit San Francisco over winter break to squeeze in. But if you need one last bit of coaxing, consider this – there will be greater availability of rooms, lines of people at the most popular dining spots are likely to be smaller and there should be less traffic. There are many more attractions to mention, such as Chinatown, Golden Gate Park,The Haight, North Beach and Coit Tower, along with other recommended places for affordable dining like the Taco Shop at Underdogs in the Outer Sunset, Katana-Ya in Union Square, Swan Oyster Depot off Van Ness Avenue and any practically any restaurant in the Mission District.
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he received a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com