Perhaps the answer lies in history - and what a history this city has. Founded in 1776 by Spanish colonists, it was the California Gold Rush of 1849 that put the city on the map - making it the largest city on the West Coast at the time.
Seventy-five percent of the city was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire, but was quickly rebuilt. During World War II, San Francisco was a major port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater. In 1945, it was the birthplace of the United Nations.
During the 1960s/70s, the rise of the hippie counterculture grew from opposition to USA's involvement in the Vietnam War. The Summer of Love cemented San Francisco as a centre of liberal activism in the United States. So much of this history is still evident today. The Kimpton Sir Francis Drake hotel, for instance, was taken over during the WW II to house soldiers as they departed and returned from the Pacific. The Haight-Ashbury district, host of the Summer of Love, is still as hippie today as it was then.
Then there's the almost eerie Alcatraz Island off in the distance. It was developed for use as a lighthouse, a military fortification and military prison. From 1934 until 1963, it was used as a federal prison, specifically housing inmates that had been troublesome at other prisons and were notorious for bank robbery and murder - one of the most infamous being Al Capone.
The Bon Voyage team knows this city inside and out, so we can recommend how to make the most of your time here and what best to combine with it. It's an ideal starting point for a California Coast fly-drive or a stop on your way to the Hawaiian Islands.
Where you stay is the heart of your holiday. Location reigns supreme but do you prefer resort facilities or unique and boutique? Historic and old world or modern and shiny?
We aim to present choices across the spectrum but there are many hundreds of places to stay and not room to feature them all. Do speak to your Bon Voyage travel consultant and click the video for our take on this important topic.
We would rate the Bellagio as one of the best hotels we have ever stayed in. Fabulous, glitzy, exciting. We loved having breakfast at the poolside café... one of our best experiences ever. If it hadn't been for you we wouldn't have had the suite or cabana and we loved them. We both agreed that the hotel was the best for us and you had suggested that so well done!Leonore & Mike Rumford