When I think of my favourite US city I always think of San Francisco.

San Francisco reminds me of the girl next door, especially when you think about her in contrast to her glitzy neighbour Los Angeles…

San Francisco is petite, naturally beautiful, gifted with eclectic interests and possesses an amazing spirit.  So very easy to fall in love with!

Once you do, you’ll always want to come back.

The city of San Francisco has always captured my heart, especially when I get “local” and experience all that the city has to offer…

Here are just a few things to consider on your next visit, but don’t confine yourself to the city.  Take a road trip while you’re there!  I started off this trip with a road trip south.

The city of Monterey is about a two-hour drive from San Francisco, past the well-known Silicon Valley and the well-known tech corridor.

This delightful seaside town is as charming reminder of a bygone era with its gorgeous Victorian homes, which are juxtaposed with the rocky coastline that surrounds the Monterey peninsula.

Staying at the Seven Gables Inn which overlooked the coast was an absolute treat, as was the wonderful hospitality and unbelievably delicious breakfast, which was included.  If you go, you have to stay here!

As you know I love early morning photo shoots and this visit provided me with an opportunity to get out as the sun was rising over the Diablo Mountain range directly to the east.  Just spectacular!

Following the coast, a further hour south from Monterey will bring you to Big Sur.

The first thing you notice about the drive from Monterey is the rugged coastline and beautiful green coastal foothills, which makes the drive down the coast so stunning.  An absolute must stop, and experience is the Bixby Bridge.

This architectural gem was completed in October 1932 for the princely sum of just under $200,000 and was the longest concrete arch span bridge on the California State Highway System – very cool!

There are some great photo opportunities all the way along the coast so don’t rush, but take your time to breathe them in.

After a blissful day (although I must admit it felt longer) in Monterey and along the California coast, I made it back just in time to capture the sunset in San Francisco at the Palace of Fine Art.

This gorgeous structure was built for the Panama-Pacific Exposition, which San Francisco hosted in 1915.

It’s a favorite spot for wedding photographers and locals alike to come and absorb the beauty of the magnificent, vaulted ceilings and soaring columns.

Close by in the Marina district is Crissy Field, which at one time was an US army airfield that bordered San Francisco bay and part of the larger Presidio complex.

You’re also blessed with an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge with a fiery red sky as its backdrop was just what I needed to end another great day exploring!

Another of the reasons I love California is because I’m constantly surrounded with groves of eucalyptus, which reminded me of being in Australia.

No visit to San Francisco is complete without a stop at Vista Point and the Marin Headlands on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge adjacent to Sausalito.  Another great place to visit!

I was fortunate as the tongue of fog that partly enveloped the bridge and bay when I arrived lifted to show both the enormity of the architecture and the innate beauty of San Francisco bay and the city skyline.

And my recommendation is if have time stop by Murray Circle in old Fort Baker and enjoy lunch at Cavallo Point restaurant.

No trip to San Francisco is complete with a visit to the Painted Ladies, which are located on Alamo Square Park (Steiner Street).

These six, brightly painted Victorian homes have the good fortunate to have the city as their backdrop and so one of the most photographed places in San Francisco.

I also hiked one of the best locations in San Francisco the trail at Lands End (access from El Camino Del Mar) and along the coastline to the ruins of the Sutro Baths.

On your hike you’ll see surfers catching some massive waves off this rocky and intimidating coastline from your clifftop perch.

As well, check out the views of the secluded China Beach, easily spotted shipwrecks and the mighty Pacific Ocean as they all come together along this amazing trail.

The other important aspect of San Francisco is the fantastic food scene in the city.  I got off the beaten path and went into local neighbourhoods to experience the real SFO.

I had a delicious lunch at Burma Superstar (309 Clement Street) after visiting the Farmers Market in the Inner Richmond neighbourhood.

If you go, you have to try the Nan Gyi Dok.  This mild coconut chicken rice noodle curry is spectacular!

In an age where restaurants turn over a quickly as the calendar check out SPQR in the Lower Pacific Height (1911 Fillmore Street), this charming little Italian restaurant was amazing!

I had the Parsnip Ravioli…they melted in my mouth, and if it were a little more acceptable to lick the plates I likely would have – it was that good…just sayin!

Another of my favourite areas is the Mission District.  It’s generally not on any tourist maps but there is no better place to experience San Francisco at its best with a good dose of Latino music, food, and culture.

And for those of you that love street art as much as I do, check out Clarion Alley in the Mission District.

San Francisco’s diverse and eclectic composition makes it a place you can visit 100 times and never tire of.

Until next week!