Dense clusters of billowy white clouds blanketed the ceiling-to-floor window walls half-way around my room on the 23rd floor of San Francisco’s cool blue tower. The clear view of Bloomingdale’s from a day earlier — completely masked. “This fog generally burns off around noon,” a housekeeper passing me in the hallway assured as I stood trying to photograph the street below from the window just outside my door. I wasn’t worried. Fascinated, but not worried. From what seemed a plumb vantage point in the Intercontinental San Francisco Hotel, even behind the morning veil, the personality of the city shined.

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As soon as I arrived, I set out on what I expected to be a 20-minute errand to the drug store. Instead, I walked the SoMa {South of Market} district surrounding my hotel for two hours. I was in love. Beautifully mild weather, libations from The Coffee Bean and a quick trip through the Union Square shopping area… San Francisco had me at hello.

Stay here: InterContinental Hotel San Francisco
Thirty-two stories above San Francisco’s vibrant South of Market neighborhood, the Intercontinental San Francisco Hotel became an instant landmark with its erection. It sits at Howard and 5th Streets — a brilliant blue glass structure of 550 rooms, visible for miles. A complete package for all manner of traveler, the four-year-old luxury hotel’s amenities include: the Michelin-starred restaurant and bar Luce, a health and fitness center, indoor lap pool, jacuzzi, full-service spa, conference center, business center and an option of pet-friendly rooms. Outside, it’s situated next to the Moscone West Convention Center as well as within walking distance of Union Square, a blend of trendy and upscale restaurants, coffee shops and bars, and museums including the Museum of the African Diaspora, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

Eat here: Roy’s San Francisco
It’s menu features an eclectic choice of entrees from the Crunchy Golden Lobster Potstickers and Teriyaki Cheeseburger to Smoked Tomato Soup, Bravo White Cheddar & Winchester Gouda Grilled Cheese with a Waimanalo Greens Salad.
Go here: Ferry Plaza, Contemporary Jewish Museum & Union Square
  • Saturday mornings in San Francisco, for me, would always begin at The Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market. The 114-year-old landmark Ferry Building is home to an acclaimed indoor and outdoor marketplace brimming with organic fruits, vegetables, baked goods, confections, flowers and more. Inside, the ground floor is a “gourmet galleria” of restaurants and shops that sell local and imported wines, premium farmstead meats and poultry, house and kitchen wares, and desserts. Outside — fresh farm products, cooking demonstrations, food trucks and even street performers. A California certified farmers market operated by the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, the market is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
  • Visit the Contemporary Jewish Museum for  unique slice of a recorded history. When I visited, the exhibit Black Sabbath — chronicling the Black-Jewish musical experience from the 1930s to the 1960s was on hand. Visitors learned about how Black artists treated Jewish music as a resource for African-American identity, history and politics. There are many worthy exhibitions to take in.
  • There is great boutique shopping in the various districts of SF. On my way from the Ferry Plaza I walked through Chinatown and Union Square where I found everything from Zara to Hermès. Love.

Wear this: Scarves & Blazers
Layering is a must. Pack a lightweight scarf or pashmina, a blazer and comfortable shoes.

Culturally rich, it’s no wonder that San Francisco is also the backdrop for Steve Silver’s “Beach Blanket Babylon,” the longest running musical revue in theater history; nearly 37 years to be exact. Musical spoofs of pop and political culture, constantly retooled with parodies of current events and popular icons, are what audiences flock to Club Fugazie in the heart of the North Beach district time and time again to see. Add to that — extravagant costumes, shimmy-inducing music and the likelihood of hobnobbing with celebrities who also drop in to catch the world-renowned show. If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, you’ll need to plan ahead. Selling out shows for “Beach Blanket Babylon” is the norm.

San Francisco is one of the top tourist destinations in the world for more than the Golden Gate Bridge and cable cars. It all depends on the view.

This story was curated by Katrice Mines.

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