International flavor: Cultural flair of San Francisco unmatched worldwide

February 1, 2009

San Francisco - San Francisco is nearly synonymous with a high cost of living. The advent and financial success of the early years of the Internet revolution still lures high-income folks to the city by the bay.

Key Points

San Francisco - San Francisco is nearly synonymous with a high cost of living. The advent and financial success of the early years of the Internet revolution still lures high-income folks to the city by the bay. Property values and household income are among the top in the nation, which enables a profitable restaurant and entertainment scene.

Financials aside, the international flavor of San Francisco - 39 percent of its residents were born overseas - continues to intrigue. A significant number of immigrants came from Asia and Latin America.

The Chinese, in particular, have made an imprint on the city since the 1970s, most notably in Chinatown, where the annual Chinese New Year Parade is recognized as the largest event of its type outside China.

Today, the city boasts at least a dozen unique and simply San Francisco neighborhoods. The city is largely reminiscent of a coffeehouse culture, thanks to social revolution of the 1960s, which has contributed to today's liberal activism, as Democrats and the Green Party heavily influence city politics.

In addition, the city's large gay and lesbian population helps spark a politically and culturally active community.

Performing arts

If looking for some long-lasting performing arts companies, venture no further than San Francisco's War Memorial and Performing Arts Center. The War Memorial Opera House is home to the San Francisco Ballet, as well as San Francisco Opera, which is reportedly the second largest opera company in North America. Or grab tickets to hear the San Francisco Symphony perform in Davies Symphony Hall.

Perhaps one of the more famous venues, The Fillmore earned its fame in the 1960s serving as the stage for musicians such as Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin.

If you'd like to see a West coast Broadway number, stop by a slew of vintage 1920s-era venues in the city's Theater district, such as Orpheum or Golden Gate Theaters.

Museums

At the Museum of Modern Art in the South of Market neighborhood, peruse 20th Century and contemporary art masterpieces. Or stop by the Palace of Fine Arts, where the Exploratorium, a science museum, draws visitors to participate in hands-on-interactive exhibits. Or plan a trip to the city's natural history museum, the California Academy of Sciences.