49 square miles: The business executive's guide to San Francisco

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Although it's not huge in area (seven miles by seven miles to be specific) San Francisco can feel like a gargantuan city, what with its bustling waterfront, 43 steep hills, two historic military forts and a herd of bison. Visiting for business and short on time? It's still possible to squeeze in some of San Francisco's spoils. From the most photogenic vistas to the meal you'll be talking about for years to come, these tips will help you make the most of your San Francisco visit. Stylish sleeps Downtown is packed with shiny business hotels, but the leader of the pack has to be the Four Seasons. Located in the SoMa (South of Market) neighborhood, with convenient access to the Moscone Center, it offers complimentary limo service to destinations within three miles of the hotel. All of the spacious guestrooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, but for the best views (and even more space), we recommend getting a premier room in the "09" series. A relative newcomer on the hotel scene, the Hotel Vitale provides a winning combination of business convenience and pleasurable extras. Its Embarcadero location places it within easy walking distance of the financial district but away from the bustle of Market Street. Amenities include outdoor terraces, free yoga classes and access to the enormous Embarcadero YMCA. For the best views, there's the water-view room or the Deluxe Panoramic Circular Suite. Memorable meal Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, the husband-and-wife team behind State Bird Provisions, think of their restaurant as a sort of culinary workshop, where they dabble in "current California cooking" -- whether that's smoking, sautéing or fermenting. The printed menu contains a few choice items but it's more fun to select dishes as they come around on a cart, dim sum style. The star is, of course, quail, California's state bird, fried to perfection and accompanied by "provisions" like stewed onions, lemon and rosemary. Meanwhile, chef Brioza calls the "Don Watson's lamb with cumin, squid, padrons and grapes" a "great combination of sweet and savory." By swapping in seasonal produce, he says the restaurant is able to keep a version on the menu most of the time. Scoring a meal here requires planning, strategy and patience. Slots 60 days out are posted daily on the website, but disappear fast. The restaurant reserves a significant amount of tables for walk-ins -- but expect a long wait. You can do cocktails at nearby Fat Angel and the restaurant will text you when your table is ready. Unique clothes Union Square's posh shopping centers, designer shops and department stores may dazzle, but San Francisco's true shopping spirit resides in its eclectic boutiques, where you can pick up unique pieces that will have friends asking, "Where'd you get that?" Situated just off Union Square, Ethos is an airy space run by Rose and Cat Chung, a mother-daughter pair who curate a gorgeous mix of well known and emerging designers. Custom clothier Beckett & Robb is the place to go for tailor-made menswear. Adhering to the philosophy that quality suits don't have to cost a fortune, the outfitter personalizes the suit-buying experience while making it accessible for various budgets. You'll consult with one of the shop's experts and choose from 15,000-plus fabric options. The result is a one-of-a-kind ensemble. In the Mission District, Little Paper Planes showcases all things artisanal in a space that feels as much like a gallery as it does a shop. Artist and curator Kelly Lynn Jones launched it as an online artist collective to showcase and support emerging artists. The physical store augments that mission through events and exhibitions, as well as a shop full of original designs (art, jewelry, everything in between) by more than 70 international artists. Best photo ops It'd be wrong to leave San Francisco without a requisite skyline shot to make your Instagram followers jealous. For a shot of the iconic skyline, head to the San Francisco Art Institute -- the rooftop is one of the rare vistas that allows you to capture both the Transamerica Pyramid and Coit Tower. While you're there, check out the institute's historic Diego Rivera mural, "The Making of a Fresco." Crissy Field is a common spot to shoot San Francisco's bridge beauty -- but since the Golden Gate Bridge is said to be the most photographed bridge in the world, you want your photos of it to be anything but common. For unique angles of the Golden Gate Bridge, you can try Fort Mason. Bonus: It's also a great spot to capture Alcatraz. San Francisco in .5 Miles Got a free day to explore before you go home? Midway between downtown and Fisherman's Wharf, vibrant North Beach captures the eclectic pulse of San Francisco. Like the city itself, the neighborhood is vibrant and friendly, sporting a little bit of glitz (in its lively nightlife scene), a little bit of grit (in the neon girlie signs of Broadway) and a whole lot of character. Best known as the city's Italian neighborhood and the hangout of Beat writers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, North Beach is brimming with Italian restaurants and buzzing with "bohemia." Start off a North Beach afternoon at famed City Lights Bookstore, then call upon your own muses at Caffe Trieste, a former Beat hangout. Stroll the neighborhood, browse the shops, or maybe check out Lyle Tuttle's Tattoo Museum or venture up to Coit Tower. Then pick up a treat something from Gelato Classico and enjoy it across the street in Washington Square Park. End your day with fresh Italian at the tiny and delightful L' Osteria del Forno, followed by Beach Blanket Babylon, the longest-running musical revue in the country and one of those off-the-wall extravaganzas for which San Francisco is famed.

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