Christened El Dorado by Spanish explorers in the 1600s, the Bay
Area has always been shrouded not only in fog, but also a near-mythical
sense of its own destiny. Half the fun of becoming familiar with San Francisco is wandering around and haphazardly stumbling upon great shops, restaurants, and viewpoints that even locals might not know about. You'll find that, although it's metropolitan, San Francisco is a small town, and you won't feel like a stranger for long. If you get disoriented, just remember that downtown is east and the Golden Gate Bridge is north--and even if you do get lost, you probably won't go too far, since water surrounds three sides of the city. The most difficult challenge you'll have, if you're traveling by car, is mastering the maze of one-way streets. This chapter offers useful information on how to become better acquainted with the city.
These days it's known for social diversity and laid-back joie de
vivre. This diversity means that whatever be your interest there
will always be plenty to do. Throughout the year street parties and
festivals celebrate the city's many cultural influences. Sports fans can
see the Giants baseball team or the famous 49ers football team. An
abundance of theatres provide performing arts for all tastes, while
lovers of music, classic or contemporary, will be spoilt for choice. To
find out more, use the links below to explore our extensive guide.