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San Francisco Voted Best Tourist City in the United States

For the 13th year in a row, the readers of a major travel magazine (Conde Nast Traveler magazine) have voted San Francisco as the best city to visit in the United States. With its beautiful scenery, mild climate, and assortment of ethnic restaurants, San Francisco draws thousands of global visitors each year. Many people from other countries have also immigrated here.

The cable car -- one of the most prominent symbols of San Francisco, rolls up and down the city's steep, hilly streets. With its twists and turns, Lombard Street is known as the most crooked in the world. Fisherman's Wharf entices visitors with the smell of seafood, while the Golden Gate Bridge glows across the San Francisco Bay.

The compact 78-kilometer square city is easy to get around with its environmentally friendly transportation. Victorian homes from the late 1800’s provide a backdrop for modern downtown buildings.

San Francisco was well known in the 1960s as a gathering place for hippies -- a term used to describe some nonconformist, rebellious youth.

Many say the spirit of that movement still remains here, including Deborah Reinow with San Francisco's Visitors Bureau.

"There's a free spirit here, a freedom, a tolerance, a place where you can be yourself."

San Francisco has many culturally diverse neighborhoods where various languages are spoken.

Totra Rayamajhi from Nepal works in a small convenience store. He came to the city two years ago and says, "I like very much this area, this place, San Francisco. It's very good."

Sohel Subedar was born in India. He owns a restaurant that serves both Indian and Pakistani food. "San Francisco is an amazing place because it's such a huge melting pot of so many different diverse cultures -- a lot of Hispanics, African-Americans, you have a good-sized Arab community, a lot of obvious Chinese-Americans, and there's a good camaraderie among diverse ethnicities."

The largest ethnic population is Chinese-American. They are scattered throughout the city, but 9,000 of them live in Chinatown, a popular tourist area.

April Yee is a third generation Chinese-American native of San Francisco. "There are just people all the time on all the streets, hustling and bustling about, carrying grocery bags. Right now its seems like there is an older population in Chinatown."

But that appears to be changing. Twenty-three-year-old Marissa Louie recently moved to Chinatown. She grew up in the suburbs. But after graduating from college, she decided she wanted to live in Chinatown.

"So I moved into the city, back into the same house where my mother grew up in actually, and so I'm kind of putting my roots down here again in the city," she said.

Stephan Pryshlak, from Ukraine, has been in San Francisco for eight years and works in a hotel. Even though the Ukrainian population is small, it gives him a feeling of home. "You can stay, work here and you still have not lost your communication with your country."

Palestinian Bashir Shahin manages this Moroccan restaurant. He spins a drink on this magic tray, as he calls it, and doesn't spill a drop. "I like it because there are so many cultures around, so I feel I could blend in."

But he says there is one drawback to San Francisco -- he has to work hard since it is one of the most expensive cities in the United States.