Why goOne of America's most vibrant cities, San Francisco has bags of colour and charm thanks to its hippie heritage and cultural character. You haven't done California until you've done San Francisco.
Where to stayThe Huntingdon Hotel and Nob Hill Spa mixes old school glamour with up-to-the-minute spa facilities. Staff and customers are as classy as the décor, which blends golds and greens with antique furnishings and very comfortable beds. Prices from $410 or less during promotions. Also try the nearby Mystic Hotel by Charlie Palmer, a friendly, stylish design hotel in a historic building with a great restaurant and bar. You can dine in a booth with curtains in the Burritt Tavern - perfect for privacy! - and their signature lamb dish is heavenly. From $149 a night.
Eating and drinkingWe loved Alexander's Steakhouse, a stylish modern haunt serving mouth-watering steaks with Japanese touches - unusual but it totally works! The service is fantastic too - our waiter was an expert on every dish. For a more old fashioned steak house, head to John's Grill, which counts Alfred Hitchcock and Johnny Depp among its famous visitors and is still a sell-out with locals and tourists alike. Fans of Asian cuisine shouldn't miss Le Colonial, a fashionable French-Vietnamese restaurant. For the perfect pint, head to Magnolia or Vesuvio recently favoured by On The Road stars Garrett Hedlund and Sam Riley.
What to doJump on the City Sightseeing hop on hop off bus to Haight-Ashbury, a colourful district home to cool boutiques and bars. Mission and North Beach are also great for hipster hangouts and vintage stores (check out The Beat Museum for a slice of happening history). The San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art has half-price entry on Thursday evenings so you can catch the latest exhibitions and mingle with arty locals. Union Square is touristy but good for bargain shopping in Macy's and the like.
A San Francisco CityPASS booklet will cost you $64 and save tons on transport and attractions.
PackFlat shoes - San Francisco is STEEP! The famous fog can turn a hot day into a freezing one so bring layers and your funkiest warm hat.
Getting thereVirgin Atlantic flies daily to San Francisco but twice a week on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Fares start from £311 plus £374.19 tax for travel period 22 0ctober 2012 - 14 Dec 2012 and 25 December 2012 - 24 March 2013.
City SecretTucked in the side streets of the Mission district are a range of brilliant murals painted by locals, often with political and historical messages.