Unearth the bohemian soul of one of America’s most diverse cities

“Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry” – Jack Kerouac

San Francisco has, for decades, thrown caution to the traditional concept of the sprawling American city by embracing diversity, celebrating a world designed outside of a typical city grid format and frankly, trying to squash as many residents and individual communities into around 47 square miles as possible whilst maintaining hugely enjoyable quality of life.

With mass immigration, the Summer of Love and gay rights movement quickly following on from World War II, San Francisco became a Mecca for open-minded free thinkers, writers and artists, whose legacy remains in the city to this day and sets San Francisco apart from other US cities.

A recent film adaptation of Kerouac’s classic “On the Road” brought the spotlight back on San Francisco and the Beat Generation, with idyllic shots of the city and landscape, a world away from the shopping and sightseeing which draws the tourists in their numbers. Discover the achingly hip bars of North Beach, kitsch clubs and funky independent stores, including Vesuvio, an eclectic bar patronized by the likes of Alan Ginsberg and Dylan Thomas. The Beat Museum in North Beach pays tribute with exhibitions and events celebrating the bohemian history of San Francisco, and you can even take literary tours around the city to really get a feel for the movement, including a visit to the City Lights bookstore which is still owned by prominent Beat poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

City Lights bookstore in San Fransisco
City Lights Bookstore

Or simply grab a map and explore the city independently. San Francisco’s transportation infrastructure lends itself to independence and exploration, with iconic cable cars and trolley buses waiting to carry intrepid visitors on a voyage of discovery. And when the nooks and crannies of San Francisco’s past are too fiddly for a cable car to navigate, then head by foot to Washington Square Park where you can emulate a laidback Beat afternoon, lounging with a custom-made sandwich, deli items and cheap wine in front of the church of St Peter and Paul, made famous in the Clint Eastwood classic, “Dirty Harry.”

Spontaneous creativity and non-conformity are optional, but you would run the risk of missing the true heart of San Francisco without a nod to the Beat generation during your stay.

4 nights room-only at 3*+ Holiday Inn Golden Gateway from £799 per person including return economy flights from Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic. Based on 2 adults sharing between 01-30 Nov 14