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10 things to see in San Francisco in an hour
San Francisco: city of sweeping hills, sun and fog, gourmet delights and incomparable vistas. It’s no wonder this Californian city draws millions of visitors each year. And even if you’re coming to the City by the Bay for business, there are plenty of things to see and do in San Francisco in between meetings. From leading art museums to business friendly drinks destinations, a number of San Francisco’s top draws can be appreciated within the space of an hour.
San Francisco Botanical Garden
Set within the gorgeous surroundings of Golden Gate Park, the San Francisco Botanical Garden is a tranquil place to recover from jetlag or blow off some inter-meeting steam. Offering 55 acres of wandering space and over 8,000 plant species, the Garden makes for an ideal urban oasis.
Golden Gate Bridge
Perhaps it’s an obvious landmark, but the Golden Gate Bridge is one of those rare sights that’s even more extraordinary in person than you might have imagined. The rust-coloured bridge has a walking path, which proves an ideal vantage point for the Bay’s best views
Bourbon & Branch
After a long day in meetings, a dark and cosy speakeasy is the perfect place to retreat. Bourbon and Branch is one of the city’s old guard, a favourite cocktail bar that’s been on the scene since, well actual Prohibition. The space housed a real speakeasy with built-in escape routes, though these days the drinking’s a bit tamer. See if you can finagle your way into Wilson and Wilson, the smaller speakeasy-within-a-speakeasy, for some culinary-minded drinks.
The biggest Chinatown in the US (or anywhere outside of Asia), San Francisco’s Chinese neighbourhood is one of the city’s most cherished districts. Wander over and get lost in the tangle of streets – while Grant Avenue is where most tourists tend to venture, head to market-lined Stockton Street for more of a local feel. Landmarks like the Tien Hau Temple provide a moment of quietude, while favourite eateries like House of Nanking sling cheap and authentic dishes.
Chef Michael Mina is one of San Francisco’s top culinary dogs, and his eponymous Financial District restaurant is a plush, ecstatically gourmet dining destination. Have your business dinner over a dish of heart-stopping Maine lobster pot pie. Who says you can’t mix work and pleasure?
Blue Bottle Coffee
Odds are you’ll start feeling the effects of your plane journey at some point during the day. Luckily, San Francisco is a java junkie’s dream city, and Blue Bottle Coffee is one of the city’s most reliable coffee shops. With branches around town, Blue Bottle roasts their own beans, serves up coffee in the alchemic siphon manner, and pours some of the prettiest lattes on the block.
Presidio Golf Course
Both golf course and historic landmark, Presidio Park lies at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge and, expectedly, provides some pretty unbeatable views. The rolling hills of the former military base offer even diehard golfers a challenging green.
Asian Art Museum
One of the world’s largest Asian art collections, the Asian Art Museum showcases contemporary exhibitions alongside a permanent collection spanning thousands of works from all major Asian cultures. Look out for the golden Seated Buddha, one of the museum’s master works.
Seeking retail therapy? Voted one of the country’s best shopping streets, Fillmore Street features a mix of established brands and trendy local boutiques and design outlets. Stretching from Lower Haight up to the Marina District, it offers two and a half miles of browsing opportunities.
Crowned by the historic Coit Tower, Telegraph Hill is one of San Francisco’s original ‘Seven Hills,’ and one of its finer vantage points. The whopping 400 stairs up will have you breaking a sweat, but the views more than make up for it. See if you can spot the area’s quirky wild parrot population.
Written by Claire Bullen