Lifestyle and Shopping in San Francisco

The natural history museum at the California Academy of SciencesThe City by the Bay is a friendly and fascinating place for expats to relocate to. There is no shortage of attractions in San Francisco, which is positively brimming with activities for expatriates and their families to enjoy.
Aside from world famous attractions such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, San Francisco is also known for world class shopping, vibrant and eclectic nightlife and dining options, as well as the natural beauty which surrounds the city.

Shopping in San Francisco

There is an abundance of neighbourhoods for expats to explore when shopping in San Francisco. Unlike many other cities, the city’s shopping districts are fairly spread out. Union Square hosts some of the most recognisable designer stores; the Marina is home to a host of independent designers; and Haight-Ashbury holds on to its hippie roots as vintage clothing stores mix with exclusive boutiques.  
There are plenty of other shopping options in the city. Chinatown is the place to go for cheap Asian products, and is one of the city’s top tourist destinations. Hayes Valley is a great place for expats to pick up a few art pieces to hang on the walls of their new San Francisco home. 
The relatively new Fillmore Street is, however, considered to be the best shopping street in the city and one of the best in the USA. Lined with retailers and restaurants, the area is at the epicentre of upcoming trends and provides a wide variety of shopping options from second hand bookshops to upscale clothes stores.

Nightlife and entertainment in San Francisco

Expats looking for a good night out will find that there is no shortage of good bars and clubs in San Francisco. With everything from electronic music and hip hop clubs to trendy lounges and stylish cocktail bars, there is always something on the city’s sizzling nightlife schedule.

Head to the SOMA area for trendy hangouts, gay-friendly bars and clubs can be found in the Castro area, and the Mission and Marina districts offer something for everyone.

Museums and attractions in San Francisco

The famous Aquarium of the Bay in San FranciscoThe top of any expat's list when it comes to attractions in San Francisco is travelling on the city’s cable cars. The sight of the world’s last manually operated cable cars taking on the steep hills is one of the city’s most iconic images, and a good way for expats to get to know their new home. 
Another striking symbol is the once inescapable Alcatraz, lurking in the San Francisco Bay. The presence of inmates such as Al Capone still echoes along the corridors of the former federal penitentiary, which is also home to rare flora, marine life and sea birds. Expats can take a ferry across the bay and see the city from a new perspective while experiencing the rich history and natural splendour of Alcatraz Island. 
Situated in the city’s famous Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences houses a planetarium, natural history museum and aquarium under one roof. Expats of all ages will be awed and delighted by the its four-storey Rainforests of the World exhibition, the Philippine Coral Reef ecosystem and the digital Morrison Planetarium, the largest of its kind in the world. 
Regardless of how old they are, expats will also enjoy the Aquarium of the Bay, which houses marine and aquatic life found along the California coast. Located at the city’s “Walkable Waterfront” on Pier 39, the aquarium not only gives visitors a chance to see everything from Sevengill Sharks to River Otters, but also educates them about environmental issues and the importance of marine conservation.
The most prominent attraction for kids in San Francisco is arguably the Exploratorium. Since 1969, the interactive museum has entertained and educated children about the wonder of science and the natural world. The museum has hundreds of exhibits and its glass-and-steel Bay Observatory provides spectacular views of the city while teaching visitors about how people and nature have interacted to shape the surrounding landscape.

Sports and outdoor activities in San Francisco

The premier outdoor attraction in San Francisco has to be the Golden Gate Park. Bigger than New York City’s Central Park and one of the most visited parks in the country, it attracts 13 million visitors every year. Throughout its vast expanse, expats will be able to learn, play, picnic and exercise at the park’s lakes, groves, trails and cultural venues.

Active expats will be happy to know that the park has tennis courts, archery fields, as well as an 18-hole Frisbee golf course. Those who prefer getting in touch with nature will enjoy meandering through the San Francisco Botanical Garden, the natural Oak Woodlands, or along the park’s Chain of Lakes. Golden Gate Park is also home to a wide variety of birds as well as a herd of bison on its western edge.  
Other popular outdoor activities in San Francisco include taking a boat trip through the San Francisco Bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge or exploring the air above the city on a sunset airplane cruise. Another option is taking one of the many bike tours on offer, including tours to the wider region’s wine farms and a Bike ‘n Brew tour to the city’s finest independent craft breweries.

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