It’s no surprise that best-selling novelist Danielle Steel resides in the romance-inspiring San Francisco. Or that frequent visitor Tony Bennett still croons that he left his heart in San Francisco. Even aside from the rich and famous, it’s easy to list a dozen reasons why “the cool grey city of love” still wins over hearts. Here are the reasons why people love San Francisco:
1. The first glance: The view of the City when approaching downtown San Francisco from the airport confirms the promise of excitement and beauty. To enhance the ride into this lovers’ paradise, couples can splurge with bubbling champagne poured by a chauffeur in a stretch limousine.
2. Between the sheets: Many San Francisco hotel suites provide enchanting canopy beds with thick down quilts, silk sheets on request, sensuous bathtubs for two, intimate parlors with fireplaces, fresh flowers, breakfast for late risers, 24-hour gourmet room service and the ubiquitous "Do Not Disturb" sign.
3. If you MUST leave your room: Discover the charming multicolored Victorians stretching along the hills of Pacific Heights or the historical grandeur of Nob Hill on guided walking tours. For thrill seekers with soaring hearts, climb aboard a helicopter for a bird’s eye tour of the city or take a flying lesson.
4. Get lost! Explore the nooks and crannies of San Francisco by ducking down hidden streets and walkways to discover unique boutiques, galleries and restaurants. Or get physical on bicycle lanes and footpaths crisscrossing Golden Gate Park, a nature lovers’ urban oasis with quiet meadows and serene lakes.
5. A bridge to take your breath away: High above where the Pacific meets San Francisco Bay spans the Golden Gate Bridge. Walkers and bikers should dress for the unknown on this famous crossing — cool ocean breezes, blue skies and sunshine, or misty fog. For victims of vertigo, the view looking up at the bridge from sea level at Fort Point is just as sensational.
6. Sensational sensual art: Lovers intertwine in the romantically inspired sculptures "Fantaisie" and "Pavlova and Novikoff in La Peri" at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. The city’s other art havens are sure to offer additional inspiration, and there’s a whole collection of five-foot-tall hearts decorated by local artists all over the city, a legacy of the Hearts in San Francisco fundraiser.
7. Discover treasure: To find a memorable keepsake, Union St. features turn-of-the-century Victorians renovated into shops and Hayes Valley is known for its eclectic stores and galleries. The Mission District, dubbed “the hippest neighborhood in America” by Vanity Fair is a haven for burgeoning artists and stylish “only in San Francisco” designs.
8. Picnics for two: A loaf of bread (sourdough, of course), a jug of wine and thou — along with a blanket and picnic basket — are all that’s needed to enjoy a casual brunch or dinner with a backdrop of a sunset at secluded China Beach or Baker Beach. It’s a short ferry ride to Angel Island, which allows visitors to hike or bike this forest-covered isle offering spectacular views of the city. Another choice in Marin County is Muir Woods with its ancient redwoods, offering a wonderland of trails and secluded spots for lovers.
9. Satiable cravings: San Francisco is a fantasy world for food lovers. Bustling Chinatown serves traditional dim sum (meaning Heart’s Delight); North Beach restaurants offer San Francisco’s own cioppino with interludes of live Italian opera on the side; straight off the boat, Pacific seafood is as fresh as it comes at Fisherman’s Wharf; and formal restaurants with white linen, silver-laden tables and panoramic views present some of the finest dining experiences in the world.
10. Dancing on water: An alternative to the traditional land-lovers dinner is a romantic dinner cruise. Charter companies provide a delectable dinner and night of dancing to live music aboard beautiful yachts sailing past Sausalito, Fisherman’s Wharf, and under the illuminated Golden Gate and Bay Bridges.
11. Bay City sunset: From Coit Tower’s 360° view, or the high-rise aerie of a hotel view lounge, the glowing sun in the west slips into the Pacific between the arches of the Golden Gate Bridge. A spectacular metamorphosis comes with nightfall when the view sparkles with evening lights from the city and stars above.
12. Cable cars at midnight: After a night at the ballet, opera, symphony, theater, or dance club, linger in the night air for a while. Embark upon a moonlit cable car ride back to the hotel with the clanging bells heightening the romantic mood of the evening.