Ode to San Francisco
It’s easy to leave your heart in San Francisco, whether it’s the Golden Gate Bridge that leaves you breathless, the comforting feeling of “Karl” the fog rolling over the bay, or the stunning views from atop Nob Hill, San Francisco mesmerizes both tourists and residents alike. “The city,” as locals like to call it, is only seven miles by seven miles, but offers up a diverse range of urban activities, giving it a feeling of endless possibility that spans well beyond its physical measurements.
The people of San Francisco are often lauded as some of the happiest and healthiest nationwide. The city offers an expansive grouping of cultural events, including live music, art, theater and literary events that occur throughout the Bay Area, all year round. It’s also home to the country’s best parks, from Golden Gate Park to the Presidio to Dolores Park. You don’t have to live close to one of the three big ones to get some park time in though, mini-parks have started to pop up all over the city, offering residents a respite from urban living right outside their front door. And for the more outdoorsy types, the area offers surfing at Ocean Beach, hiking the Marin Headlands or biking down the coast.
San Francisco is the financial centerpiece of the American West, a legacy held over from the California Gold Rush. Five major banking institutions call the city home, making Montgomery Street in the Financial District the “Wall Street of the West.” However, it is not necessarily banking that comes to mind when you think about the Bay Area’s economy, it’s the tech industry. The Bay Area is home to some of the largest corporations worldwide, including Twitter, Facebook, Google, Salesforce and Oracle, to name only a few.
The legal market in the city has improved significantly since the financial crisis of 2009. There are a seemingly endless amount of startups opening shop daily, and established companies adding to their teams on a regular basis, making this an “employee’s” market. Since there are so many corporate entities forming, the tech industry has had to come up with new and different ways to attract the top talent. Employees can expect catered lunch and dinner, casual dress, dogs in the workplace, open seating plans and corporate field trips, just to name a few.
Law firms are also making a comeback since the crisis. The top practice areas in the city are corporate (emerging and public companies), intellectual property and litigation. Lateral and entry level attorney needs are growing continuously, and since they still aren’t at pre-crisis levels, there’s no indication this growth will end any time soon. There is one thing to keep in mind when considering a San Francisco firm, and that is that the firms in the region tend to be much more selective than their counterparts in other parts of the country. San Francisco is home to multiple law schools and also attracts some of the best talent from other areas, making the market more competitive than most.
There’s no place like San Francisco: the people, the beauty, the innovation and the energy make this city an irresistible place to visit, just don’t forget to take your heart with you when you leave.
Where to Stay
If you really want to live it up in San Francisco, then the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins is the hotel for you. This stunner stands on the top of Nob Hill and has views of the city that will knock your socks off. Staying here requires having a cocktail or two at the Top of the Mark bar as the sun sets; it offers a panoramic view of the sun setting over San Francisco, and it cannot be beat.
Another iconic hotel would have to be the Sir Francis Drake in Union Square. This legendary spot is known as “The Drake” to locals, and has one of the most beautiful hotel lobbies in the city. It’s got a historic flare, but is operated by Kimpton, giving your stay a modernized level of service.
The Inn at the Presidio allows you to separate from the urban noise while still being close by to all the parts of the city that you’ll want to see. It’s located in the heart of the Presidio and was once the house for unmarried U.S. Army officers when the park was still used for military housing. The Presidio is a gorgeous park near the Marina that has a golf course, forested hills for bike riding, bird watching at Crissy Field and the Walt Disney Family Museum. You wouldn’t have to leave the park to spend a day doing activities that everyone in the family would enjoy.
It would be un-San Franciscan of me not to at least mention Airbnb here. Airbnb is a San Francisco based company that allows people to connect via their online marketplace. People list homes that they are hoping to rent, and people searching for local accommodations can search through the listings and find the one that works for them. There are dozens of listings of houses and apartments throughout San Francisco on this online community marketplace, allowing travelers to feel more at home than at a hotel. The experience can either be budget friendly, or you can splurge on a beautiful Victorian in Pacific Heights.
Where to Eat
Better question: where not to eat in San Francisco? The city is a foodie haven and offers such an incredible assortment of food from all over the world that the pickiest eater will go home stuffed. One of the legendary restaurants in San Francisco that is a “must do” would be The House of Prime Rib. Just writing about it makes me hungry! The House serves an incredible meal where the prime rib is carved at your table, and coupled with sides that will make your mouth water. The décor is in the English Style and feels ever so cozy, I highly recommend coming here close to the holiday season when all the decorations are up and the fires are lit. Better make your reservations now, though! This place fills up months in advance.
Foreign Cinema is another quintessential San Francisco restaurant, serving up a California/Mediterranean type food in the Mission District. Bring a significant other because this place can get pretty romantic pretty fast; they play foreign and independent movies while you eat under their gorgeously decorated covered outdoor courtyard.
If seafood is what you want then seafood is what you shall have, but not just any seafood, Sotto Mare seafood. This place is a bit more on the casual side, but don’t let that fool you! It’s a warm, inviting, bustling ambiance that will make you feel right at home. Whatever you do, try the Cioppino… trust me.
The last option is a bit more budget friendly, but not a bit less delicious. Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that has become a beloved addition to the city’s menu options. By far, the best Banh Mi can be found at Saigon Sandwich. This hole in the wall isn’t located in the prettiest neighborhood, but don’t let that stop you from experiencing a heavenly flavor combination for less than five dollars… you can’t get anything in this city for less than five dollars, let alone a sandwich this brilliant.
Where to Drink
If you’re looking to sit back, relax and have a few cocktails, well you’ve come to the right city. Pier 23 Cafe is a great spot on the Embarcadero where you sip your cocktail while staring out over the Bay. If wine is more your style, try Amelie on Polk Street. The vibe is a modern Frenchie wine lounge that has some lovely wines that you can pair with some delightful snacks. If beer is your drink of choice, then try Hopwater Distribution in Union Square, it offers an array of outstanding beers, and don’t forget to try the crab tater tots too. If you’re looking for something with a bit more of a buzz (so to speak), try Bullitt in Russian Hill. They have Fernet on tap, which is the official unofficial drink of San Francisco and a “must try” before leaving.
What to Do
Grab your walking shoes; this city has some pretty steep hills! You’ll want to do all the normal touristy activities, like ride the cable car from Powell Station down to Ghirardelli Square where you can walk along the Marina, through Crissy Field, past Baker Beach and onto the Golden Gate Bridge. Better yet, rent a bike and ride over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito where you can enjoy some great brunch spots. Be sure to take the ferry back to the city, it’s a long ride home. Also, if you rent a car, I highly recommend heading out to Point Reyes where you can rent a picnic table and a grill, and cook your own fresh oysters, pulled right out of the water. Take in the many museums in the city, which offer an array of exemplary pieces stretching from multiple time periods: Museum of Modern Art, the De Young, California Academy of Sciences and the Asian Art Museum, to name a few. If you have the time, travel out to wine country, which is only a quick hour and a half drive. Napa and Sonoma counties offer some of the best wines in the world, coupled with some exceptionally stunning views, you won’t be disappointed.
Where to Live
San Francisco neighborhoods each have a personality all their own. Russian Hill and Nob Hill are clustered together in a very centralized location and made up of young professionals. If you don’t mind walking uphill at least one way, then one of these could be the neighborhood for you. They offer an easy commute to the Financial District, a quick walk to the Bay and a myriad of restaurants, bars and shops to peruse. Lombard Street, or better known as the “crooked street,” is located here, as is the San Francisco Art institute, Huntington Park and the Cable Car Museum.
The Mission District is another very popular neighborhood in which to live, and offers its residents access to Dolores Park, arguably the best Mexican food in the city and an incredible art scene. Originally, Central American and Mexican families were the primary residents here, which is evident by the amount of taquerias and beautiful murals located in the neighborhood, but since the explosion of the tech industry, the residents have a different feel these days. The neighborhood has been more “hipsterfied” than gentrified and for that reason there are dozens of thrift stores, dive bars, coffeehouses, bookstores and galleries to be enjoyed.
The ironically named “Inner Sunset” is known for having a blanket of fog for much of the day, most days out of the year. Regardless, many San Franciscans proclaim that this is their favorite neighborhood. It offers a feeling of a small town, rather than a big city. Most of the neighbors all know each other and this creates a deep sense of community within its residents. The Inner Sunset holds the Golden Gate Park to the north, Ocean Beach to the west, the zoo to the south and Haight-Ashbury to the east.
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