If you love exploring places as a travel nurse, California is hard to beat. “The Golden State” is one of the most unique places in the United States and the world, making it a perfect travel nursing destination. From its world-famous Pacific coast to the Mojave Desert to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California offers an incredible range of entertainment, cuisine, recreation, and natural beauty.
The San Francisco Bay Area, located in Northern California, is an exciting new option for GIFTED travel nurses.
Read on for tips on exploring the San Francisco Bay Area as a GIFTED travel RN!
The City of San Francisco
For the size of its reputation, San Francisco is a relatively small city. With less than 50 square miles and a population under one million, the city is very easy to explore.
San Francisco’s scenery is distinct and beautiful. The city is known for the legendary Golden Gate Bridge, rolling hills, and Victorian-style buildings, best exemplified by the Painted Ladies located in Alamo Square Park. Cable cars, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), and a well-managed public bus system are great for getting around the city without owning your own vehicle.
For those that enjoy the outdoors, San Francisco is the perfect destination. Check out these stunning parks and outdoor spaces:
Golden Gate Park – One of the largest urban parks in the US (1,000+ acres), offering many beautiful lakes, the Conservatory of Flowers, De Young Museum of fine arts, a Japanese Tea Garden, the Academy of Sciences, and extending to the Pacific Coast.
Palace of Fine Arts – located on a landscaped lagoon, this structure features Greek-style colonnades and a central rotunda that makes it one of the most distinctive features of the San Francisco skyline. (SFTravel.com)
Presidio of San Francisco – A National Historic Landmark and part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, this park is full of beautiful trails and beaches, breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, historic architecture, and a national cemetery.
Ocean Beach – A 3.5-mile stretch of white beach with few tourists and no highrises at the westernmost border of the city.
Mission Dolores Park – A local favorite, Dolores Park is located at the heart of the Mission District, San Francisco’s trendiest neighborhood. According to its official website, “here you’ll find lush green lawns shaded by tall palm trees, a soccer field, six tennis courts, one basketball court, a multi-use court, a playground, and two off-leash dog play areas.” (SFRecPark.org)
San Francisco is comprised of a “patchwork collection” of distinct neighborhoods, each with their own special personality. Check out these highlights:
Mission District – The Mission is one of San Francisco’s hippest neighborhoods, chock-full of trend-setting boutiques, cafes, book and record stores, music venues, restaurants, and more. Near the center of the neighborhood lies the 18th century Mission Dolores, where you can also find local favorite Mission Dolores Park. (SFTravel.com)
Chinatown – San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest of its kind in North America. According to SFTravel.com, SF’s Chinatown offers beautiful “pagoda-style architecture, ornate lampposts, and other distinctive elements,” and can “feel like a trip abroad.”
North Beach – An historic Italian-American neighborhood with one-of-a-kind shops and the famous beat book store City Lights.
Haight-Ashbury – This neighborhood is named after the cross-streets where the 1960s counterculture movement thrived. Today, the city’s unique Victorian houses line the streets, “flamboyant clothing shops” and tattoo parlors abound, and many longstanding local favorite bars and restaurants can be found. (SFTravel.com)
Fisherman’s Wharf – A world-famous neighborhood, this neighborhood features a vast waterfront marketplace with stunning views and charming souvenir shops in the waterfront marketplace and historic ships add to the atmosphere. You’ll find fishing boats, sea lions lazing in the sun, delicious seafood restaurants, and plenty of family activities. (SFTravel.com)
Union Square – Union Square is located at the heart of San Francisco and is an international destination where you can enjoy high-end shopping, luxury hotels, world-class art galleries, and museums and entertainment for the whole family.
Wine Country: Napa & Sonoma
For wine enthusiasts, the Bay Area is heavenly. Napa and Sonoma beautiful rolling hills are home to the nation’s most famous wine-producing areas and feature hundreds of wineries amidst an iconic California landscape.
Napa Valley is known for the Silverado Trail, a winery route with “grand estates, expansive tasting rooms, charming towns and elegant accommodation. Sonoma County offers a “more intimate” experience, with wineries and tasting rooms in renovated barns, old castles, and quaint lodges. The Russian River Valley can also be found in Sonoma County, which offers swimming, paddling, hiking, great dining, and family relaxation along the entire waterway. (SonomaCounty.com)
Each season offers a different experience in these areas. According to Visit California:
“Spring brings brilliant green new grape leaves and lush hillsides, and fields of yellow mustard add brilliant contrast. Summer warms up, both with events and crowds, so start your day early to avoid both. Autumn brings the crush, and vineyards bustle with workers in the vineyards and the wineries. Winter brings a cool hush—insiders know this is a time to snag reservations at the region’s Michelin-starred, in-demand restaurants, shop for holiday gifts in spruced-up towns and relax in peace at luxurious spas.”
On the other side of the San Francisco Bay is the East Bay, home to a diverse array of communities. The two best-known locations in the region are Oakland and Berkeley.
With a population of more than 400,000 people, Oakland is the most ethnically diverse city in the United States. Oakland has been called ‘San Francisco’s Brooklyn’ and San Francisco’s sister city, as it is located just across the water, although it offers more stable and warmer weather than San Francisco. The city is also the cultural and economic center of the East Bay.
Oakland is diverse, edgy, and home to a thriving artist community. The city’s lower rents have drawn a large young population, which has resulted in a recent uptick in bars, cafes, galleries, and nightclubs. Oakland is also home to a wonderful restaurant scene, and foodies will love its wide range of cuisines.
Check out some of the city’s highlights:
Jack London Square – A waterfront space near the Bay with lots of outdoor fun. The Square’s official website promotes its “shopping and dining amidst the bobbing boats in the marina,” where visitors can “take advantage of some of the water activities that are offered or just relax in the wide open palm studded squares.”
Oakland Museum of California – Opened in 1969 and promoted as a “museum for the people.” Enjoy entertaining exhibitions, educational and recreational programs, and community events that support the culture and historical appreciation of the city.
Old Town Oakland – A great place to take an afternoon stroll, beautiful Old Town Oakland features Victorian buildings, a mixture of quirky businesses and shops, great restaurants, farmers markets, and a “six-block area of restored buildings.” (VisitCalifornia.com)
Lake Merritt – Lake Merritt was the first National Wildlife Refuge in the US. This lake is a great place for outdoor weekend fun, offering a 3.5-mile biking and walking trail around the water. The Lakeside Park Garden Center features a wonderful collection of bonsai trees. The lake is perfect for all sorts of watersport activities as well.
A haven for backyard artists and coffee-shop philosophers, Berkeley has deep roots in the Flower Power movement of the 1960s and ’70s. But while California’s spirited city of free speech still stands strong, Berkeley also boasts a booming food, wine, and craft-brew scene, sprinkled throughout with arts and culture. Add an easy-to-use public transit that makes San Francisco a quick light-rail ride away, and Berkeley rates high on any Bay Area must-see list.
Berkeley Waterfront – This area offers breathtaking views of the Bay and regal sailboats from the Berkeley Marina. Check out views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline in César Chávez Park, where locals love to hang out, jog, walk their dogs, play frisbee, and fly kites.
University of California, Berkeley – One of the most storied universities in the US, this gorgeous campus can also be considered “the unofficial central park” of Berkeley. According to Visit California, “no matter where you wander, you’ll run across dance groups practicing a routine, musicians running through a tricky section of music, or maybe the do-it-yourself student parkour club launching over bannisters and benches. That’s not to mention the occasional free-speech moment or rally with megaphones and placards—part of the Berkeley scene since the ’60s.”
Begin Your Travel Nursing Adventure with GIFTED Healthcare
The San Francisco Bay Area is one of a kind. This list is not meanomprehensive, but offers a great starting point for travel nurses that want to explore this amazing region.
From travel to per diem assignments, GIFTED Healthcare provides nurses with exceptional, high-paying career opportunities.
Apply now to join Team GIFTED and begin your travel nursing adventure!
“Discover the San Francisco Bay Area.” Visit California, 6 Jan. 2020, www.visitcalifornia.com/uk/region/discover-san-francisco-bay-area.
“Spotlight: San Francisco.” Visit California, 19 Dec. 2019, www.visitcalifornia.com/uk/destination/spotlight-san-francisco.
“Mission Dolores Park.” San Francisco Recreation and Parks, CA, sfrecpark.org/Facilities/Facility/Details/Mission-Dolores-Park-188.
San Francisco Travel, www.sftravel.com/.