San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area is a major metropolitan area of approximately six million people and one of the most scenic regions in the United States. The Bay Area includes the major cities of San Francisco and Oakland, as well as Berkeley, home of the world-renowned University of California. Just south is the city of San Jose and the Silicon Valley, home to many of the world's high tech companies. The Bay Area also lies within easy driving distance of the high Sierra resorts of Lake Tahoe and Yosemite, the Monterey/Carmel peninsula, the world famous Napa wine country, and the spectacular Mendocino Coast.
Everyone knows "The City" - San Francisco - from countless photographs, movies and television shows that capture its magic. It is a city built on a series of more than 40 hills, offering panoramic views of every kind. The hub of a nine-county complex and the financial and insurance capital of the world, San Francisco has a resident population of about 740,000. San Francisco is situated on a 46.6 square-mile peninsula bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the north by the Golden Gate strait, and from north to east by the San Francisco Bay. The City has been named the world's top city twice by readers of Condé Nast Traveler and the top U.S. city seven times since 1988.
The San Francisco Bay is spanned by two landmarks, the Golden Gate and San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridges, and graced by four islands: Alcatraz, Angel, Yerba Buena and Treasure. The area is easily navigated by car, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), bus or ferry, making it easily accessible to all.
Located across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco, Oakland is a city of more than 380,000, jam-packed with exciting attractions, stimulating arts, and a climate that is ranked number one in the country by Prentice Hall's Places Rated Almanac. Oakland's charm exceeds its man-made wonders, as its tumbling hills, vast forests, hiking and riding trails, beautiful lakes and numerous parks provide a natural escape for those who prefer nature over an urban environment.
Berkeley, just a 12-mile drive from San Francisco, is situated on 18.8 square miles with a population of 105,000 people. A study in contrasts, Berkeley is a small town with a big-city character. With its world-renowned university, global population and rich diversity of cultural arts, Berkeley reflects and affects the rest of the country.
In the Berkeley hills, Tilden Regional Park offers more than 30 miles of hiking trails, a public golf course, swimming at Lake Anza and plenty of places to picnic. As part of its wealth of cultural life, Berkeley boasts the award-winning Berkeley Repertory Theatre, an opera company, a nationally celebrated symphony and a ballet company.
Just north of San Francisco, across the shining jewel of the Bay Area - the Golden Gate Bridge - lies Marin County and the North Bay. Stunning views of hills and mountains cascading into the bay and the ocean at every turn, Marin County boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the only U.S. national park in a major metropolitan area, is the largest urban park in the world. Muir Woods National Monument offers peaceful walks and hikes through majestic groves of towering redwoods, while Point Reyes National Seashore offers spectacular bird and whale watching.
Sports fans can see it all in the Bay Area - professional football (San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders), professional basketball (Golden State Warriors), professional baseball (San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics), professional hockey (San Jose Sharks), and outstanding collegiate competition.
Sources: S.F. Convention and Visitors Bureaus, Oakland Convention & Visitors Authority, Berkeley Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the California Trade and Commerce Agency.
Top U.S. Cities
Source: Conde Nast Traveler magazine, 2002 Readers' Choice Awards