FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

California Gold: San Francisco Buzzes with Renewed Energy

by Sheryl Nance-Nash

Jun 10, 2024

© Photoquest | Dreamstime.com

June 2024

There’s something magical about the City by the Bay. San Francisco casts a spell. The Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street (the world’s crookedest street), Golden Gate Park, Pier 39, Legion of Honor, Coit Tower, cable cars and Yerba Buena Gardens are just some reasons you might fall in love with the city. The gastronomy (the city boasts 50 of the 87 Michelin-starred California restaurants), art and music scenes will settle the matter.

As much as San Francisco is a great place to play, it’s also ideal for doing business or hosting a convention or meeting. The numbers tell the story. According to the San Francisco Travel Association, the city attracted 23.1 million visitors in 2023, a 5.2 percent year-over-year increase. In 2023 hotel room nights attributed to delegates attending Moscone Center conventions increased 82 percent from 2022. San Francisco is a grande dame of old and new. Elegance reigns in historic places like the iconic InterContinental Mark Hopkins with its famed Top of the Mark restaurant, offering sweeping city views perfect for cocktails, and the newly renovated ornate Peacock Court Ballroom. But excitement also permeates the air because there is always something new.

seals

© Andreistanescu | Dreamstime.com

“There is a revitalization happening in San Francisco right now. Meetings, events and overall tourism are steadily recovering following the pandemic; and new openings of event spaces, restaurants, bars and parks are pushing this revitalization forward,” said Cassandra Costello, executive vice president and chief policy and external affairs officer, SF Travel, a destination marketing organization. Recently, San Francisco became the only city in the world to have the most advanced LEED Platinum certification for both its convention center and airport. Last year also brought new event spaces like Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco and Conservatory at One Sansome. The city offers 35,000 hotel rooms, more than half within walking distance of Moscone Center, and will add more than 1,000 new hotel rooms this year. The buzzy culinary culture recently welcomed additions like Z&Y Peking Duck; Il Parco, in The Presidio and boasting swoon-worthy views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay; and Alora, a Mediterranean restaurant along The Embarcadero.

The nine-hole, par-3 Golden Gate Park Golf Course, America’s first destination municipal short course, completed a redesign and renovated its clubhouse.

Said Wade Rose, president, Advance San Francisco, an organization of the city’s leading employers, “San Francisco is the catalyst for universal progress. We are the future-makers who inspire the world to think differently. Businesses, conversations and events here matter because they have an outsized influence on how the world moves forward.”

Lombard Street

Lombard Street © Franco Ricci | Dreamstime.com

SCENIC DRIVES
Napa Valley lies a little more than 50 miles north of San Francisco. For a drive you’ll always remember, take Highway 101 North across the Golden Gate Bridge with its postcard- perfect views. Napa Valley doesn’t disappoint. You know you can taste — to your heart’s content — some of the world’s finest wines at the hundreds of wineries, but you’ll find much more action than that. Check off your bucket list a hot-air balloon ride or relax at one of the area’s legendary spas. Try a mud bath while you’re there. Another option is Napa Valley Wine Train, where you’ll enjoy a three-hour ride and four-course meal. If you’re in the mood for something more active, a bike tour will get the adrenaline pumping, as will shopping the many boutiques and galleries. You can get to Santa Cruz in less than two hours, just 75 miles south of San Francisco. Take Highway 1 to experience one of California’s best drives. The oohs and ahhs start with the coastal bluffs and beautiful beaches. While you can make the trip in two hours, don’t cheat yourself; plan to take as much time as you can because there’s plenty to see, like Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, where you can explore tidepools. Get out of the car for a bit and walk Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail, taking you along bluffs above beaches. If walking stirs your appetite, you’re in luck, as downtown Half Moon Bay boasts some good eats. You’ve probably seen photos of Pigeon Point Lighthouse; see it for yourself along the way. These are just a few of the stops before you get to Santa Cruz with its beach, boardwalk, amusement park and more.

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