The ultimate [travel destination] for me would be one perfect day in San Francisco. There’s no city like it anywhere. — Larry King
It’s official. I read it in Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel. According to the magazine’s October 2010 Reader’s Choice poll, the most beautiful city in the world is . . . wait for it . . . San Francisco. Yep — the City by the Bay beat out Paris, Vancouver, Venice and Charleston for the top spot. Even the editors were surprised.
But they shouldn’t be. San Francisco also ranked #2 as the “Best Food City in America” and #4 as the “Most Fun Place to Get Away With the Girls/Guys.” As Tim and I learned this past June, it’s a fabulous place. And the diversity is what really impressed us. Not just the diversity of the people and their neighborhoods — Japantown, Chinatown, Koreatown, Italian North Beach, the gay Castro, the yuppified Marina — but the diversity of the place itself. And the city’s gift for reinventing itself after disasters like earthquakes and fires.
One of our favorite spots in the city was Golden Gate Park. Talk about diversity! In one space, three miles long and half a mile wide, there are 27 miles of walking trails; its 1,000+ acres make it the largest cultivated urban park in the country. Want a carousel? The Herschel-Spillman Carousel, built in 1912, is here — in the first children’s playground in the US. How about a Japanese Tea Garden? Check. A Shakespeare Garden? Yep. An art museum? How about the deYoung? A lake? Stow Lake and Strawberry Hill island fit the bill. A place for music? That would be the Music Concourse, which has been the home to wonderful outdoor events since 1894. There’s also a Dutch windmill and tulip garden, a Victorian flower conservatory, a Giant Tree Fern Grove and, on the grounds, the California Academy of Sciences holds court with its swamps, reefs, rainforests, planetarium and penguins.
Tim and I spent our time one day slowly taking in the beauty of the Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. Home to more than 7,000 plant species that live in climates similar to that of San Francisco, the “environments” created include a Biblical Garden, a Redwood Trail and a Primitive Plant Garden, among others.
Here is a sampling of the pictures we took that day. I wish I knew what some of these beauties are; I just aimed and shot at whatever took my fancy. Hope you enjoy them — mostly, I hope you get a chance to go out and see this for yourself. There are a whole lot of reasons to see San Francisco. These are just a few.