A big city in a small package, San Francisco's status as a cosmopolitan cultural center has been further boosted by a slew of museum collections reopening in brand new, purpose-built landmark buildings. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, the Mexican Museum and the California Academy of Sciences are all scheduled to open their doors in new premises in 2008. The city that begat the beat generation, hippies and radical politics, and was the inspiration for writers from Armistead Maupin to Amy Tan, continues to burst with creativity and a cutting-edge political consciousness.Way ahead in the green stakes, San Francisco plans to be the first US city to ban plastic bags; meanwhile, the city's gay community, always keen to rebel against the mainstream, is in revolt against its own stereotypes with a burgeoning 'alternaqueer' scene. And with growth in San Francisco itself restricted by the boundary of the bay, forces of regeneration and renewal are making themselves felt in once-gritty Oakland and other areas of the East Bay.
Ros Sales lives in London. She has also edited Time Out guides to Washington DC, Athens, Naples and Marrakech, and reviews restaurants for the Time Out Eating & Drinking Guide.