A Golden Handcuff with a Key Thrown Away

A Golden Handcuff  with a Key Thrown Away

Above is just one of the many lines dedicated to our travel destination for this week. Truly an amazing city. And, while Chicago News has featured many amazing spots around the country, we have yet to bring you one of its truest gems, San Francisco.

Reviewing the new Aston Martin in LA (check out the car review in the upcoming issue), we suddenly realized that, while talking about California, we just cannot skip featuring San Francisco. So let it be! We picked a car and drove there. Now, if you are interested in such a road trip, please note that it would take you about seven hours in average, so if you are not in the best of company, a quick two-hour flight might be the option to consider.


Of course, like every other metropolitan city, there is a wide selection of hotels. However, please note that with selecting the right one, the main real estate rule remains the same: location, location, location.

The best and the most centric spot in San Francisco is Union Square. This 2.6-acre public plaza is literally located in the heart of the city and pretty much defines it. If you want to feel the vibe, the soul of San Francisco, head to Union Square. In addition to being the center of entertainment and shopping, it also boasts a brilliant collection of public art. Beginning in 2009, painted sculptures of hearts have been installed in each of the four corners of the square, now being one of the most favorite photo ops for kids and adults alike. Plus, you can walk through the square and experience a wide range of works by local artists.


We knew that while visiting San Francisco we would have to be in the very center of it, so we chose Inn at Union Square, a cozy boutique hotel right in the middle of it all. This 6-story building embodies the definition of history and modernity combined, and while saving all of the attractive boutique elements, including vintage furniture, fireplaces and writing tables, you’ll find a tablet on your nightstand, which you can use for prompt and easy communication with the world around you.

The staff is extremely polite and helpful. Everyone, from the front desk to cleaning ladies, greets you, wishing you a good day (or night), compliments your outfit and will definitely ask you to come back again soon. Plus, with Inn at Union Square you also get a complimentary breakfast between 7 am and 10 am, wine and cheese reception between 5:30 pm and 7 pm, and even chocolate chip cookies at 8:30!


The speed of the Internet connection was the only glaring disadvantage that we spotted. However, I bet that if you don’t go to San Francisco on a journalistic assignment (or any kind of assignment), you probably wouldn’t even notice it.

If you want to explore the city, the best way to get an overall impression and learn where is what is to take the Big Bus San Francisco – a double decker that drives you all around the town, with a guide telling about the history of the city and other facts you wouldn’t probably learn anywhere else. For example, when we were passing the Mechanics Monument (where mechanics were pictured almost nude), our guide mentioned that according to the San Francisco law, a person is not considered nude if he or she has at least one piece of clothing on (even if it’s just a hat or a shoe). The mechanics had the aprons.


The following stops are also among the sights you just cannot skip while in town:

Fisherman’s Wharf: get here to enjoy the pier, the ocean and the overall history of the city.

Alamo Square: check out the famous Painted Ladies – Victorian homes, another acclaimed symbol of San Francisco.

Golden Gate Park: take a walk down the famous bridge, as well as underneath it, in the promenade zone (spoiler alert: it’s still one of the longest suspension bridges in the world!).

Lombard Street: drive down it to experience the most extreme incline in town.

Chinatown: check out the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia.

Alcatraz: once a home to the most dangerous felons, now it’s one of the most famous tourist destinations in California. (Spoiler alert: buy tickets in advance, they go FAST).

Coit Tower: being on the National Register of Historic Places, it has one of the best views of San Francisco from the top!

Cable Cars: the only moving national landmark. Need I say more?


Some think that San Francisco (and Northern California overall) might be a little soft, especially in comparison to its sister city, Los Angeles. It might be true. There isn’t that much traffic, that many people (even counting tourists) and that much noise. But, is that really a bad thing? San Francisco is a multicultural hub that’s world-famous for its diversity. It became home to the hippie culture, the gay rights movement and a dozen other things that are now part of our lives.

Having lived in Chicago, all of us eventually get used to the pace of the third biggest city. Would I move to San Francisco? Probably, not. Would I consider coming back here? For sure. This city is a golden handcuff, with a key thrown away. Experience it for yourself and find your own definition for it.


Photo credit: Chicago News

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