Initially a fort, declared a military reservation in 1850 by President Millard Fillmore, it wasn’t until 1907 that Alcatraz officially became a U.S. military prison and remained one until 1933, when the facility transferred to the Bureau of Prisons. Located 1.25 miles offshore from San Francisco, Alcatraz Island is one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks, steeped in both culture and mystery. If you’re planning on heading there for a prison tour, be sure to purchase tickets in advance as they book up quick.
Botanically speaking, San Francisco is rich in natural beauty – something that’s evident in the San Francisco Botanical Garden. The unique urban oasis boasts nearly 9,000 different kinds of plants from around the world, along with an immersive Moon Viewing Garden, complete with a Japanese pagoda, and a Succulent Garden brimming with bold shapes and exotic blooms.
Both a greenhouse and a botanical garden, San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers houses a collection of rare and exotic plants. Located in Golden Gate Park, the awe-inspiring botanical beacon is famed for its five galleries that challenge the sight, mind and sensations of its onlooker via rare flowering plants, exotic orchids, and giant lilies floating on glistening pools of water.
D is for Dogpatch
What was once an industrial area, the Dogtown district is now San Francisco’s latest boomtown neighbourhood. Looking for a delicious brunch in the area? Head to Plow, a tribute to timeless recipes coupled with Californian cooking, where you’ll find custard french toast, pumpkin pancakes and hearty breakfast sandwiches.
E is for Eryn’s Flowers
Located in San Jose, Flowers by Eryn is a floristry studio that aims to bring beauty and delight to the everyday. “Flower design is a distinct art form,” explains owner Eryn Schroeder Johnson. “I love creating a visual expression of an emotion and feeling through the medium of flowers.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.
F is for Flower and Garden Show
Established in 1985, the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show show focuses heavily on sustainable and green practices while hosting hundreds of floral displays seminars, exhibits and demonstrations, and is attended by botanical boffins who travel from far and wide.
G is for Golden Gate Bridge
Name a more iconic San Francisco landmark, we’ll wait. No trip to The Golden City is complete without a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge, the suspension bridge spanning the one-mile-wide strait connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, built in 1933.
H is for Homage
Located in the Financial District, Homage is a responsibly sourced, locally inspired restaurant that serves a menu that reflects the local bounty of farms within the Bay Area. Each week, the Homage team travel to the market every week to build relationships with local farmers and to handpick fresh ingredients for their simple and delicious staples ranging from overnight oats to pea and ricotta toast.
I is for invisible bar
Head to 501 Jones Street in the Tenderloin area and you’ll find an unmarked door that acts as a gateway into the prohibition era. Behind it lives Bourbon and Branch, a speak easy style bar serving unexpected cocktail combinations. You can’t just walk into Bourbon & Branch, you’ll need to ring a buzzer and whisper a secret password that’s only obtainable when making the reservation – so be sure to book ahead.
J is for jam-packed with art
No trip to San Francisco is complete without a trip to the The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Founded in 1935, it was the first museum on the West Coast dedicated to modern and contemporary art and thanks to a three-year building expansion it’s now one of the largest museums in the US, with over 33,000 works spanning painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design and media arts.
K is for keep an eye on the line up…
… at The Fillmore, the iconic music venue that once host the likes of Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Jimi Hendrix. A monumental part of the San Francisco rock scene, The Fillmore’s walls are covered with framed posters from those historic shows and they still present sell-out shows today.
L is for Little Gem
If the name wasn't a giveaway, Little Gem is a real good find. Located in the Hayes Valley area, Little Gem is an organic eatery serving gluten-free Californian and globally inspired dishes. At brunch they serve everything from classic pancakes to Okonomyaki, while lunch is a counter-service affair – think bowls filled to the brim with California brown rice, baby kale, purple cabbage, roast carrots and pickled turnips.
M is for Mission District
San Francisco’s Mission District is a lively neighbourhood with with Latino roots and an infectious laidback vibe. Head to Mission for a day of vintage shopping in the district’s eclectic thrift stores – full to the brim with American memorabilia – before indulging in a Mexican feast in one of Mission’s many, many taco joints, washed down with mezcal, no less.
N is for Namu Gaji
Located between Mission and Dolores, and helmed by the Lee brothers — Dennis, Daniel and David – Namu Gaji is an open kitchen that serves innovative dishes inspired by traditional Korean cooking. It has its own farm, too, which operates without petroleum fuel and uses Korean Natural Farming techniques, so you can rest assured that your food has come straight from farm to table.
O is for outstanding views
For the most impressive view of the Golden Gate Bridge, we suggest putting on your hiking boots and hitting the three-mile coastal trail that starts at the historic Sutro Baths ruins and continues to Eagles’ Point where you’ll find an Instagram-worthy hidden labyrinth.
P is for Popsons
Popsons is a quick service burger joint that’s famed for its chilli and bacon blue variations. If you want to go all out, order a “Big Von” Burger ($9.45) from the off-menu, a signature double cheeseburger topped with seasoned fries. Yes, that means French fries in your burger. As they say in France, “c’est exquis”.
Q is for Quite Peculiar Street
Comprised of eight hairpin turns, Lombard Street is hands down San Francisco's most crooked street. Located between Jones St. and Hyde St, the steep winding road has become quite the tourist attraction, at which onlookers stop to watch cars carefully manoeuvre the turns amongst Lombard Street's beautiful flower beds.
R is for Cafe Réveille
It’s safe to say there’s no shortage of organic, farm-to-table eateries in San Francisco, and Cafe Réveille is among our favourite healthy hangouts. Located in Mission Bay, Lower Haight and Berkeley, consider Cafe Réveille your go-to for superfood bowls, smoothies and hearty weekend breakfast dishes like chilaquiles and shakshuka.
S is for Sol Ambience
Nestled in the heart of San Francisco’s Richmond District, Sol Ambiance reflects the "style, creativity, and diversity" of the people it serves – that’s why we’re proud to welcome them to the Floom family. Using only the freshest seasonal blooms and foliage, Sol Ambiance create arrangements that will bring the beauty of nature into your home.
T is for Theory, Bloom Theory
Located in Emeryville, family-run florist Bloom Theory delivers beautifully unique bouquets to the people of the Bay Area. When asked why flowers make such a special gift, owner Peter Qian explains, “When I make up each flower arrangement, I make sure I put emotion into each bouquet, which is carried to the person receiving the flowers”.
U is for U & I Flowers
Founded by Khrystyna Chorna, U & I Flowers sets out to create beautiful arrangements – from stems sourced from a local flower mart – that reflect the character, feel, and personality of its customers. According to Khrystyna, her style of floristry is “pretty messy, but womanly, elegant and structured at the same time. I love letting flowers just flow and do their thing”.
V is for Vineyards
Whether you’re taking a trip out of the city to the Santa Cruz Mountains, to San Luis Obispo County, or to the Southern Central Coast – San Francisco is just a stones throw away from a plethora of prestigious vineyards. Our top recommendation? Head north to Napa Valley and enjoy a tour of one of the world’s finest wine locations.
W is for Waterfront
As far as we’re concerned, one of the best ways to see a new city is on foot. It’s a scenic three mile walk from the Bay Bridge to Fisherman's Wharf, and along the way you'll see the Ferry Building Marketplace, Pier 39, San Fran’s famed Fisherman’s Wharf where you’re sure to find a stellar clam chowder and if you’re lucky, some sea lions basking in the sun.
X is for eXtremely Good Views
Despite now having 48 named hills, only seven of San Francisco's hills were named at the time of the city's founding: Nob Hill, Russian HIil, Telegraph Hill, Rincon Hill, Twin Peaks, Mount Sutro, and Mount Davidson. All offer fantastic views over the city, aside from the forested Mount Sutro.
Y is for Yoga
San Francisco has no shortage of yoga studios, so finding the right one is an important feat. We suggest visiting Purusha Yoga, a small-studio vibe to it that reflects its mission: to empower and unite community through yoga. Founder Joy Ravelli is an icon in the San Francisco yoga scene and the studio also runs a a nonprofit, the Purusha Seva Project that aims to teach free yoga to those who cannot afford such a luxury.
Z is for Zip Around in a Cable Car
Introduced in 1973 to help the locals with the many hills that San Francisco is built upon, cable cars now offer tourists a great way to explore the city in a historic fashion. The Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde are arguably the city's most scenic routes and the cable cars will also take you to the likes of Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, the Ferry Building, Nob Hill, and Lombard Street.