The VICE Guide to San Francisco
America's most beautiful city is in the middle of a wild transition.
All photos Marko Knezevic
San Francisco is America's most beautiful city. At least that's what people say all the time, and it maybe still is, on the outside. Where else in the country can you find a bazillion adorable homes that look like they were blueprinted by five-year-olds? Or watch fog billow over 80-degree steep hills? Or find the beach, the woods, and an internet porn studio within the radius of a few miles?
On the inside, though, its rebellious heart is being gnawed away by big money. That's also why now is the best time to come. You're observing a city in the midst of a wild transition. There's a version of the culture war happening here on just about every corner that is palpable. It's fascinating to observe, and it's so essential to experience the lingering spirit of what San Francisco was while it's around.
One day soon, most of the colorful old shops and people, those loveable die-hards who fought with so much heart and so much weirdness to make the city something close to paradise, will probably be wiped out or priced out. For now, some gems remain. Get here fast.
NEIGHBORHOODS WE HAVEN'T GIVEN UP ON
It's hard to keep track of neighborhoods when you're in San Francisco. The city is tiny (seven miles by seven miles, 7x7), but hungry realtors keep cutting it up into more and more micro-neighborhoods. (Oh, you thought you lived in Western Addition? Nope! It's NoPa now.) So don't be surprised if you take a turn and are suddenly in a part of town that has a name or a vibe that didn't exist just a few short years ago. Of course, you likely won't know either way.
If you believe the hype, San Francisco has turned into a tech haven filled with Google Glass–wearing millennials who fancy themselves innovators. And in the wrong neighborhood, you might overhear a conversation or two about seed funding and "Uber, but for small talk." But many special places remain if you look hard enough. The thing to remember when you're visiting is this: San Francisco, stripped away of all the artisanal bullshit, is a view city and nature city. We have tall hills, giant parks, and beaches. It's not LA, so pack a jacket, but don't let 55 degrees be an excuse to stay inside.
These are the San Fran neighborhoods we haven't given up on.