Discover Your Heart in San Francisco
     by Caitlin Moore     

Besides the Golden Gate Bridge and the funky neighborhoods, are you really aware of all that San Francisco has to offer as a vacation destination? Art, culture, history and fun permeate the city and spring up in various forms around every corner. Dull moments and dreary days are few and far between, and there are about five million possible itineraries to choose from. If filling your days with constant sensory stimulation sounds like your idea of a fabulous getaway, you simply must check out the whirling, spinning, energy-rich mecca that is San Francisco.

The Bay area in general is perfect for biking, walking, and cable car riding, so forget about your gas-guzzling beast and plan on getting a little fresh air and exercise. The distinctive architecture, the tranquil wharf and the people watching will all keep you constantly encouraged to move along, meaning that you'll probably end up burning a few calories without even realizing it. Historical walking tours will fill your head with a little knowledge, or if you're the spontaneous type, just hop on your bicycle and see where the day takes you.

If artistic endeavors get your motor running, dozens of opportunities will compete for your attention. The Asian Art Museum is one of the largest collections of Eastern inspired art in the world, and the San Francisco Modern Art Museum is considered a can't miss attraction. Galleries line the more fashionable streets and local artisans are hawking their wares in the most unexpected places; in other words, if you keep your eyes open you're sure to get your art fix.

Its location on the coast of course makes San Francisco properly ocean-oriented, so whether you're looking out across the bay from one of the city's higher vantage points or getting right up close to the action at Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf. Sea lions, food vendors and Broadway-style musicals are just a few of the attractions in this area, so save some time to properly appreciate the whimsical offerings. The Conservatory of Flowers is a fragrant and fascinating draw, and most tourists won't be able to leave the Bay area without hopping on a ferry and visiting a famed and intriguing sightseeing spot - Alcatraz.

The theme parks, nature preserves, and cultural spots of interest are compiled in lists and articles much longer than this one, so once you arrive be sure to check out the scene, maybe ask a local, and wander your way through what is sure to be a satisfyingly busy vacation. Don't let yourself get too worn out though; when taking city getaways it can be tempting to run yourself ragged and end up feeling relaxed but tired; avoid post-vacation fatigue by penciling in some downtime.

Play a round of golf on one of San Francisco's gorgeous courses; stop by one of the many high-class spas for a facial, massage or pedicure, or kick back at a casual or upscale restaurant for a delicious meal. Since you've been running around all day, don't worry about calories for once. Indulge in a fantastic dinner (seafood and wine, perhaps?) and go ahead and order dessert. With hundreds of restaurants to choose from, food heads will be in heaven.

Shopping is also a tempting diversion, so spend-a-holics beware that your credit card may be making a few key appearances. From specialty gift stores to upscale boutiques, candy and flower shops to antique markets, it's all here. Considering that this is in the neighborhood of wine country, there are all sorts of tours and tastings to take advantage of. Give your taste buds an awakening, see the process that grapes undergo before reaching your table in the form of sweet nectar in a long-stemmed glass, and take a few bottles home with you as the perfect souvenir.

To add a final touch to the trip, one that will make you look and feel as if you're a professional vacationer who knows how to make a good holiday great, opt to reserve a San Francisco Vacation Rental. With a condo or apartment located downtown, all the hottest activities will be right outside your door and it will greatly aid your vacation state of mind to live like a local.

Or, check out the properties that are tucked away along the coast or in the hills; these will give you more peace and quiet than the typical hotel, and aren't necessarily more expensive when you take into consideration all the fabulous extra amenities that come wrapped up in a vacation rental package. It's at least worth a look, so check out the dozens of houses, town homes and cottages today.

San Francisco isn't a hard sell; there's something for everyone to take interest in and the city knows how to show visitors a good time. If it's time for you to take a break from responsibility for a while, consider heading to this sparkling metropolis as soon as you can swing it.

About the Author: Visit HomeAway.com as you start to plan your next vacation.
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