A Tale of Two Coastal Cities - San Francisco and Boston
Posted: 02 March 2017
From the end of March 2017, Virgin Atlantic will be offering direct flights from Manchester to iconic cities on the west and east coasts of the USA, which is perfect for our clients based in the north of England. Virgin Atlantic will fly non-stop to San Francisco, on the west coast, on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, while non-stop flights to Boston, on the east coast, will take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Choose Virgin Atlantic’s unique Upper Class cabin to experience state-of-the-art entertainment systems, restaurant-quality meals, fully flat beds and exemplary service from the friendly, attentive (and gorgeously attired!) cabin crew. In addition, San Francisco and Boston both have iconic Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses at their international airports, giving Upper Class passengers the opportunity to chill out in über-stylish comfort before their flight home. San Francisco’s Clubhouse takes its design cue from the city’s landmarks and harbour, with fabulous views across the bay, while the swanky Clubhouse at Boston’s Logan International Airport boasts secluded zones, including a Library and Lounge, with complimentary, New England-inspired, dining available at its Deli and Brasserie. Both Clubhouses are perfect preludes to relaxing flights home with Virgin Atlantic.
Throughout 2017, San Francisco will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the famous ‘Summer of Love’, which took place in the Haight-Ashbury area of the city. In 1967, around 100,000 ‘free thinkers’ (who became known as hippies) converged on San Francisco and started one of the most significant cultural movements of the 20th century. Head to the city to experience the fantastic music that was the soundtrack to the psychedelic ‘Flower Power’ era (from rock icons such as Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin) – with a raft of special concerts, festivals, exhibitions and street fairs to commemorate this iconic time in American cultural history – and take the opportunity to enjoy a series of guided walking tours and even private hop-on, hop-off tours on board a ‘hippie bus’.
Even without the attraction of the 50th anniversary to tempt you, there’s so much to see and do in San Francisco. This Californian city has a great cultural vibe and cool ambience, enhanced by a unique backdrop of sharply undulating hills and eclectic architecture that is surrounded by incredible scenic landscapes, with the iconic Golden Gate Bridge as its centrepiece.
The photogenic city is divided into diverse neighbourhoods and its possible to spend an entertaining few days exploring the best of them, which include bustling Chinatown; Union Square (great for designer shopping); Fisherman’s Wharf (for delicious seafood, spectacular views and the gateway to infamous Alcatraz island); Nob Hill (once the playground of the San Francisco elite and rich industrialists, and home to zig-zagging Lombard Street, the ‘Crookedest Street in the World’); Mission District (the oldest district of all and home to some of the trendiest restaurants and galleries San Francisco has to offer) and aforementioned Haight-Ashbury (bohemian home of the psychedelic movement with beautiful Victorian architecture around Alamo Square, one of the world’s most prestigious medical schools and a main street of quirky shops selling vintage clothes, musical instruments, records and books).
The city oozes culture in many forms and the eclectic series of museums and galleries focus on everything from Disney to modern art and science. From 10th March to 15th August, the USA’s most celebrated, award-winning new musical is coming to San Francisco, direct from Broadway, as part of a national tour. ‘Hamilton’ tells the story of one of the American Revolution’s most colourful characters and Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton. Book your trip to San Francisco with Elegant Resorts and our concierge team will happily try and secure tickets for you while you’re in town. While in the city, it would also be remiss not to take a ride on an iconic cable car, whose unique underground cabling criss-crosses a selection of the city’s streets (the Cable Car Museum is also well worth visiting to see where the city’s under-street cables converge).
The restaurant scene is varied and vibrant in San Fran, with everything from Michelin-star dining, to little seafood restaurants and casual taquerias, while neighbouring Napa Valley, to the north of the city, is worth exploring for a few days. Hire a car and base yourself at a couple of the valley’s finest locations – our portfolio boasts a stylish trio of luxurious hotels in Yountville, Rutherford and St Helena. Gateway to California, San Francisco is also a great starting point for a memorable spring or summer road trip south along iconic Highway One, finishing in Los Angeles or San Diego.
Located on the Atlantic side of the USA, Boston offers an altogether different vibe, with a more historical ambience than San Francisco, due to it being one of the USA’s oldest cities (established in 1630). In fact, the city can lay claim to boasting the nation’s oldest bar, continually operating hotel, professional baseball ground (Fenway Park, home of Boston Red Sox), subway system and its oldest college, Harvard. America’s oldest restaurant is also located in Boston – Union Oyster House, established in 1826, is located in the Downtown area and is a National Historic Landmark. Pop in for a drink and to enjoy superb seafood and lobster, and don’t forget to ask to see the ‘Kennedy Booth’ in the upstairs dining room, where the Kennedy clan, including JFK, often enjoyed a meal.
Steeped in British Colonial history, the city is the location of the famous Boston Tea Party of 1773. For a superb interactive experience and to learn more about the event that led to the American Revolution, why not visit the highly regarded Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum in the harbour, to re-enact the historical event? Also on the theme of history, a must-do is the 2.5-mile-long Freedom Trail walk, telling the story of Boston’s involvement in the American Revolution at a total of sixteen historic sites. Visit the salubrious Beacon Hill neighbourhood while you’re in town to photograph what is, reputedly, the most photographed road in the USA – the narrow, cobblestoned, Acorn Street, which is lined with terraced, red-bricked, residences.
Art-lovers should aim to try and visit Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Modelled after a 15th century palazzo, and boasting a pretty inner courtyard garden, the museum houses one of the world’s best private art collections, including works by Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Raphael, Degas and Sargent. The former lady of the house was an avid collector of paintings and counted the author Henry James and painters James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent amongst her friends.
For a change of scene, why not flex your credit cards at the designer boutiques to be found in Newbury Street and Copley Place, then enjoy a leisurely lunch and glass of wine at one of the trendy restaurants nearby, while for sports fans, no trip to Boston would be complete without enjoying a guided tour of historic Fenway Park, home of Boston Red Sox. Fenway Park runs one-hour tours from 9am to 5pm daily.
Boston is a great, cosmopolitan city for all ages and families will not be disappointed by the activities and attractions available. New England Aquarium, Boston Children’s Museum, the Museum of Science and Harvard Museum of Natural History are just a few of the fascinating, interactive options available. One of the latest additions, perfect for families with little ones from 3 to 10 years, is LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, which has rides, a 4D cinema, play zone, Duplo farm, factory tours and a Master Builder Academy.
Boston is a great starting point to a New England adventure, particularly in the autumn when the vibrant landscapes of rust-coloured trees are simply breathtaking. Alternatively, head further south along the east coast to enjoy the delights of The Hamptons, the weekend summer destination of choice for affluent New Yorkers seeking a little R&R away from the hustle and bustle of New York. End your trip on a high in New York itself, for even more culture, iconic sightseeing and last-minute shopping opportunities.
So, two of the USA’s greatest cities are now even easier to access, thanks to the convenience of Virgin Atlantic’s new direct flights from Manchester. Which will you choose – east or west coast? For further information, a quote or to book your city sojourn to San Francisco or Boston, please call our expert Travel Consultants on 01244 897 221.