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San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the fourth most populous city in California and the 12th most populous city in the United States. San Francisco is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area. San Francisco is a popular international tourist destination, renowned for its chilly summer fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of Victorian and modern architecture and its famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, and Chinatown.
A popular quote incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain is "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." Since it is surrounded on three sides by water, San Francisco's weather is strongly influenced by the cool currents of the Pacific Ocean, which moderates temperature swings and produces a remarkably mild year-round climate with little seasonal temperature variation. Take sweatshirts and jackets.
Crossing the strait of the Golden Gate from San Francisco to the Marin headlands for 1.7 miles is the world-renowned Golden Gate Bridge, easily identified by its International Orange color.
A 360-degree view of the city is visible from the observation platform at the top of Coit Tower. To gain access to the observation deck, there is a fee to ride the elevator up. Public transportation is strongly recommended for access to Coit Tower as traffic can be heavy in this area.
One of the most photographed locations in San Francisco, Alamo Square's famous "postcard row" at Hayes and Steiner Streets is indeed a visual treat. A tight, escalating formation of Victorian houses is back-dropped by downtown skyscrapers, providing a stunning contrast. The grassy square itself is an ideal midday break. One of 11 historic districts designated by the Department of City Planning, the area includes several bed and breakfast inns.
Alcatraz was the site of the first lighthouse in the Western United States but became a federal penitentiary from 1934-1963, housing famous convicts such as Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. Now, this once infamous prison island is part of the Bay Area's 75,000-acre Golden Gate National Recreation Area.