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A world of possibilities await visitors to San Francisco this summer, from navigating the legendary culinary scene, diving into diverse neighborhood festivals, experiencing live music or events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. To help visitors make the most of their days and nights in the city, the San Francisco Travel Association has launched a guide to “49 Hours of SF” at www.sanfrancisco.travel/49hours.

Joe DlAlessandro SMALLJoe D'Alessandro of San Francisco Travel

“Everyone knows that the average weekend is 48 hours, but in San Francisco there is no average weekend,” said Joe D’Alessandro, San Franciso Travel president and CEO. “A lot can happen in this city, even with just an extra hour, so we’ve designed nine different itineraries that will give our visitors an unforgettable experience here.”

A “build your own itinerary” tool on the site allows visitors to select items from each of the itineraries and build their own 49 hour excursions, which can be shared via Facebook, Twitter or email.

“49 Hours of SF” hotel packages, which can be booked on the website, include amenities such as free parking or breakfast. In honor of the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th anniversary, American Express has a special hotel offer through September 30, 2012. Visitors who book their hotel stay with any American Express Card will receive a $75 Westfield Gift Card.

San Francisco Travel suggests nine different itineraries based on visitors’ interests in and around San Francisco. These itineraries are great ideas for all visitors and provide many reasons for convention attendees to arrive early or stay a few days longer. Itinerary ideas include:

 

The History Buff – The 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge was marked on May 27 at the Golden Gate Festival and there are tributes and celebrations across the city throughout the year. There are permanent improvements to the way visitors experience the bridge, such as a new pavilion at the south end of the bridge, improved shopping and dining options and guided tours of the bridge by day and night.

 

The Escapist – Shake off the everyday with this collection of unique experiences – Blue & Gold bay cruises, Hiking Yoga tours, Bay Trek hikes, RocketBoat rides and more. For the first time in 14 years, the U.S. Open Championship will bring the world’s best golfers to the historic Olympic Club on June 11-17. The America’s Cup sailing regatta is returning to the United States for the first time since 1995, pulling in to San Francisco for the World Series Races on August 21 – 26.

 

de Young Picasso SMALL Portrait of Dora MaarSee a Picasso at the deYoungThe Culture Seeker – The San Francisco CityPASS opens the doors to the city’s best museums, including admissions to the California Academy of Sciences, Aquarium of the Bay, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the Exploratorium, the deYoung and Legion of Honor fine arts museums. The Stern Grove Festival, admission-free since 1938, celebrates its 75th anniversary this summer with a season of top outdoor musical performances.

 

The Shop-a-holic – Retail therapy is everywhere in this city, including places like PIER 39, Westfield San Francisco Centre, Gump’s department store – a San Francisco institution since 1861. Discover unique boutiques like Urban Bazaar, Alexander Book Company, the Levi’s Plaza Store, Favor (featuring Hotcakes Designs), Rickshaw Bags, Amoeba Music and Swankety Swank. For inspiration, “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” at the deYoung Museum (through August 19) is truly a work of art.

 

The Day Tripper – San Francisco is the perfect base camp for exploring “Beyond the Bridge” to California’s upper half. Venture out to California’s Great America theme park, the intriguing Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, the East Bay communities of Oakland, Berkeley and beyond. Head south to Pacifica, Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz and stop at Roaring Camp & Big Trees Railroad on the way to Monterey, Carmel and Pebble Beach. Head north to the famous Wine Country and Mendocino, or east to historic Sacramento, dramatic Yosemite National Park and Mariposa County or cool, clear Lake Tahoe.

 

The Fun Seeker – Find your smile again at places like the Exploratorium, the Bay Area Discovery Museum, the Children’s Creativity Museum, House of Air (indoor trampoline park) and the little-known Seward Street Slides. Relive happy days on the Magic Bus tour and at the Walt Disney Family Museum. After dark, giggle your way through “Beach Blanket Babylon” and the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar inside the Fairmont Hotel.

Tyler Florence WAYFARE 3843  SMALL JOHNLEEPICTURESTV's Tyler Florence cooks at WAYFARE. 

The Foodie – Everyone who eats is a foodie in San Francisco. Start the day at the Ferry Building Farmers Market on Saturday (or the Marketplace inside anytime), walk down the Embarcadero to Tcho Chocolates, then head up to Chinatown to see the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. Gourmet Walks and Grub Crawl offer food explorations on foot. Come during a great food event--SF Chefs, July 30-Aug. 5--to be part of the culinary in-crowd. Grab some fresh Boudin sourdough bread and dip it in We Olive’s golden oil, followed by See’s Candies, a California classic.

 

The Shutterbug – What better souvenir of a trip to San Francisco than photography? This itinerary highlights some of the most scenic spots in the area. Look toward the skyline from the Marin Headlands, Horseshoe Bay, Treasure Island and Twin Peaks. Find nature in the midst of the city in Golden Gate Park, get a look at art and architecture at Coit Tower, the Legion of Honor, the Palace of Fine Arts and Alamo Square. And find an “only in San Francisco” shot of the cable cars and Chinatown.

 

The Explorer – Forty nine miles of diverse neighborhoods and hidden gems await visitors who venture past the iconic landmarks. The murals of the Mission District, the Wiggle to Golden Gate Park and the Wave Organ at Crissy Field are delightful discoveries. Places known to locals include Creativity Explored, Paxton Gate and 826 Valencia. To really get the lay of the land, take the 49 Mile Scenic Drive to sample each neighborhood. Then return to “go deep.”

 

By entering a specific travel date and event interests, visitors can also see a list of arts and culture special events taking place over the 49 hours they’re in San Francisco, which are also outlined by location on a map, making exploration even easier.

To create additional buzz around the program, San Francisco Travel has launched a contest using Instagram, the popular photo sharing application. Visitors and locals who tag their Instagram photos #49hoursofSF have the opportunity for their photos to be featured in the campaign, and will be entered to win a “Stay & Play in SF” package including a two-night stay at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, $100 dining certificate, two CityPASS Booklets, two tickets on RocketBoat and two passes to the Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf.

The number 49 has long had special significance for San Francisco. The city’s population exploded with the Gold Rush of 1949. The city itself measures 49 square miles (or “49 square miles surrounded by reality,” as one luminary once said). Motorists can tour the city on the 49 Mile Scenic Drive. And don’t forget that famous football team with 49 in the name.

 

(TravMedia.com sources contributed to this article.)

 

Editor's note: Links to websites of hundreds of San Francisco & Bay Area lodging and dining options can be found in Taste California Travel's Resource Directory.

 

The northeast/central California region known as the Gold Country, an area made up of 12 counties and dozens of historic towns dotting Highway 49 has been named one of the top ten U.S. travel destinations to see in 2012 by Lonely Planet.

Sutter Creek Main StreetSutter Creek has old west flavor.

Known for their annual travel list for international destinations and their compilation of U.S. picks for the last two years, Lonely Planet's U.S. travel editors carved out a list of what's new, interesting, and in some cases likely to be overlooked by travelers. The full list is on www.lonelyplanet.com, the company's web site with more than 10 million unique visitors monthly.

The Gold Country, ranked number six is listed as a closer, less expensive and less crowded option than Lake Tahoe and Yosemite from San Francisco. With Sacramento as its anchor, the area stretches from north of Lake Tahoe to south of Yosemite National Park's border towns. The editors' description of "towns oozing with century-old ambience strung out like throw-back pearls along Highway 49" reveals Lonely Planet's authentic editorial approach. The list points to the artsy towns as good overnight choices and mentions the growing wine region as a contender to Napa and Sonoma.

Historically known for the infamous cry of "Eureka!" and the 1949 California Gold Rush, the Gold Country region offers an abundant collection of outdoor adventures; hiking and biking, gemstone mining, exploring caverns, steam trains, historic sites, endurance competitions and triathlons, frog jumping and street fairs, and of course, panning for gold, although the quest has shifted from gold mining sifting pans to swirling golden wine a glass. The Gold Country region is home to more than 175 wineries, many with visitor center tasting rooms and the chance to walk the vineyard with the winemaker.

Lodging choices range from hostelries on Main Streets and country cottages and inns to luxury hotels in Sacramento, the state capital. Maps, directions, activities and accommodations information is at www.calgold.org.

 

(TravMedia.com contributed to this article)

 

Editor's note: Links to the websites of hundreds of Gold Country lodging and dining options can be found at Taste California Travel's Resource Directory.

 

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