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Honors & Awards for San Francisco

Over the years, San Francisco has received honors and accolades from all over the world and for a wide variety of attributes. Below are recent highlights, sorted by San Francisco, the destination; San Francisco Travel Association, the city’s official destination marketing organization; and San Francisco International Airport, the Bay Area’s largest airport.


Accolades for the destination, the San Francisco Travel Association and San Francisco International Airport received during the past five years.

San Francisco has received honors and accolades from all over the world and for a wide variety of attributes.  Below are recent highlights, sorted by San Francisco, the destination; San Francisco Travel Association, the city’s official destination marketing organization; and San Francisco International Airport, the Bay Area’s largest airport.  


December 2016 – San Francisco took the highest award, the “Best City of 2016,” in GayCities’ annual “Best of GayCities” program.   GayCities readers cast tens-of-thousands of votes for more than 60 of the world’s best destinations in 12 categories, ranging from “Best Gayborhood” to “Up-and-Coming" city. 

December 2016 – San Francisco and the Bay Area were named to Frommer’s list of the 18 “Best Places to Go in 2017.” According to the editors: “Today we see San Francisco as a picturesque seat of American wealth—a city barely affordable to those not caught up in digital industries. But 50 years ago, in 1967, the largely working-class area flooded with young people intent on challenging American civil rights, protecting the environment, and defying traditional definitions of authority. In 2017, the whole city harks back to the Summer of Love. Dive into nearly two dozen events and exhibitions ranging from the story of the Black Panthers at the Oakland Museum of California to blockbuster exhibits, performances, and other events at the famed de Young Museum, the library, City Hall, and on ballet and concert stages citywide. In June, the legendary Monterey Pop Festival, which cemented the stature of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, returns 50 years after its debut…San Francisco may not be the anything-goes paradise it once was, but the Flower Power that has come to define the city by the Bay is finally getting its due as a serious subject.”

December 2016 – Two San Francisco hotels were honored in the 2016 Awards of Excellence from Historic Hotels of America® and Historic Hotels Worldwide®.  The Inn at the Presidio (built in 1903) was named Best Small Historic Inn/Hotel (Under 75 Guestrooms).  The Palace Hotel (built in 1875) was named Best Historic Hotel (Over 400 Guestrooms).

October 2016 – San Francisco was named the top-rated destinations in US and Canada in the Cruisers' Choice Cruise Critic Awards.  Rankings were based on member review ratings for ports from sailings taken August 1, 2015 to July 31, 2016.  One cruiser is quoted as saying, “This is my happy place. I love this city. The whole vibe is friendly and the sea food certainly doesn't disappoint.”

October 2016 - The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, announced that for the fifth year in a row San Francisco has achieved a perfect score on HRC’s 2016 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) for establishing LGBTQ-inclusive local laws, policies and services. San Francisco joins just 10 other cities in achieving a 100-point score in all five years HRC has been assessing municipalities on the LGBTQ-inclusivity of their laws and policies. 

October 2016 – The personal-finance website WalletHub compared the 150 most populated cities across 21 key metrics, ranging from “cost of groceries” to “affordability and accessibility of high-quality restaurants” to “number of food festivals per capita.”  San Francisco was rated fifth overall.  Other findings for San Francisco include:

  • 1st – Number of Gourmet Specialty-Food Stores per Capita
  • 1st – Number of Craft Breweries & Wineries per Capita
  • 1st – Number of Coffee & Tea Shops per Capita
  • 3rd – Ratio of Full-Service Restaurants to Fast-Food Establishments
  • 16th – Number of Restaurants per Capita
  • 19th – Number of Grocery Stores per Capita
  • 39th – Number of Ice-Cream & Frozen-Yogurt Shops per Capita

    For the full report, visit here

    September 2016 – Cruise Critic named San Francisco the #1 destination in the U.S. and Canada in the Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards.  The awards are based entirely on consumer feedback, such as this comment, “This is my happy place. I love this city. The whole vibe is friendly and the seafood certainly doesn't disappoint.” 

    August 2016 San Francisco was named the #1 city on Runner’s World’s list of America’s 50 Best Running Cities.  The city topped a list of 250 U.S. cities with populations of more than 160,000 that had the highest number of households per capita reporting participation in running within the last 12 months.  “With its signature fog, cool summers, and rolling terrain, getting out the door is painless. Plus there are landmarks like the Lyon Street Steps and Kezar Stadium, the public track that’s been a fixture in San Francisco running for more than 90 years. And there’s no end of routes to explore. From Lands’ End Coastal Trail, you can run about three miles to the famous Sutro Baths saltwater pools and more trails at Ocean Beach. End the route with a beer at the Park Chalet in Golden Gate Park. For great views of Alcatraz, run along the Embarcadero from AT&T Park to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge,” wrote Associate Editor Ali Nolan. August 2016 – The readers of Travel + Leisure named San Francisco #4 on their list of the best food cities in the United States.  The editors added that the city “has a crop of new restaurants that are dynamic and adventurous—but also just really, really good.”

    August 2016 - A study conducted by travel and tourism experts Resonance Consultancy revealed that San Francisco is among the best quality tourism destinations in America.  The 2016 U.S. Tourism Quality Index measures tourism’s supply-side performance and competitiveness in 121 cities across the United States. The report reveals the top quality large, medium and small U.S. destinations based on the number of very good and excellent experiences in each city in six key areas as reported in key social media channels such as TripAdvisor and Yelp.  San Francisco was rated #6 overall among large destinations and #3 for Culture, #4 for Entertainment, #7 for Sightseeing, #8 for Culinary, 12 for Sports and Adventure and #16 for Lodging.  

    July 2016 - The San Francisco Giants were named the Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year by ESPN at the second annual Sports Humanitarian awards ceremony. The event honored leagues, teams, individuals and members of the sporting community that are using the power of sport to make a positive impact on society.   

    July 2016 – San Francisco is rated the No. 6 city in the United States, according to the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2016 readers’ survey. The new survey from Time Inc.’s Travel + Leisure reveals the top travel destinations and companies in the U.S. and around the globe.  Cities are rated on sights/landmarks, culture, food, friendliness, shopping, and value.

    June 2016 – In the 2016-17 U.S. News Best Vacations rankings, San Francisco was named:

    • No. 5 in the Best Places to Visit in the USA
    • No. 10 in the Best Historic Destinations in the USA
    • No. 23 in the World’s Best Places to Visit

    To identify top vacation spots worldwide, U.S. News analyzed more than 250 destinations using a methodology that combines travelers’ opinions with expert analysis.

    June 2016 – San Francisco was selected as one of the 15 most dynamic cities in America by The Worth Group.  The annual Worth Destinations is the authoritative list of America’s most dynamic cities, chosen for their thriving entrepreneurial, economic, cultural, philanthropic, tourist and civic activity. 

    June 2016 - Americans for the Arts, the nation's leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, selected two public art projects from the San Francisco Arts Commission as being among the 38 most compelling works of public art created in 2015  in the Public Art Network (PAN) Year in Review program. Spiral of Gratitude, a memorial to fallen police officers created by Shimon Attie with Vale Bruck, located at the new Public Safety Building and Voyage, a glass mural by local artist Val Britton at San Francisco International Airport, were selected from 260 entries.

    June 2016 – California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA), one of the nation’s oldest and largest non-profit recycling organizations, named San Francisco’s Moscone Center as the 2016 recipient of their annual award for Outstanding Practices in Venue/Event Resource Recovery Award. The annual award goes to a large event or venue located in California which serves over 2,000 people per day, which has demonstrated excellence in implementing waste reduction, recycling and organics programs, innovative source reduction programs, recovering over 90% of event discards, and other programs that demonstrate best practices in event or venue resource management.

    May 2016 - The San Francisco Recreation & Park Department was named a top-five park system in the United States by the Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore Index report. Each year, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) rates the park systems of the 100 largest cities in America. This year, TPL cited San Francisco’s unparalleled park access, with 99 percent of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park.  . 

    May 2016 -   For the tenth consecutive year, KaBOOM!  has honored the City of San Francisco with a 2016 Playful City USA designation.  KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids, particularly those growing up in poverty in America.  With hundreds of playgrounds and play areas, San Francisco is well-regarded for its programming and connecting children to nature. The Department of Recreation and Parks offers classes that include shark fishing, kayaking and other boating, SCUBA open water, geocache adventures, rock climbing, archery, hiking and camping, surfing, and BMX biking.

    May 2016 – Conde Nast Traveler named the San Francisco metro area one of the ten fittest cities in the United States, saying, “98.2 percent of people in the San Francisco metro area live within a 10-minute walk of a park. And when not throwing a Frisbee or participating in a yoga session in a neighborhood green space, the Bay Area is one big outdoor playground. For starters, take a walk or a bike ride down the three miles of Golden Gate Park, from the ocean toward the city. While the city's culture has transformed with the influx of Silicon Valley tech geeks, those changes have only added to the already vibrant health-conscious food scene.”

    April 2016 - San Francisco was has named as one of the world’s hottest dining destinations, according to the fifth annual poll of readers by lifestyle publication Elite Traveler.  San Francisco boasts three restaurants on the Elite Traveler Top 100 Restaurants in the World placing the city only behind New York, Paris, London and Tokyo in terms of the number of restaurants included in the list.   Leading the pack for San Francisco is former downtown pop-up restaurant Saison at 51 which moves up seven places from last year’s awards.  Following Saison is North Beach’s Coi (69) and the SoMa district’s Asian-influenced Benu (81).  

    March 2016 – San Francisco was found to have the top quality of life in the United States in Mercer’s 18th annual Quality of Living survey.  The survey assesses quality of living conditions to help multinational companies and other employers fairly compensate employees when placing them on international assignments. Mercer is a global firm in talent, health, retirement and investments.    

    February 2016 – San Francisco was named the nation’s top foodie city in a new study by Infogroup, which used its verified business database of more than 17 million records and consumer database of more than 235 million individual records to identify the cities with the highest "foodie score."  

    January 2016 –San Francisco was selected as one of the Top 10 Family Destinations in the KAYAK 2016 Travel Hacker Guide.  The Guide was curated by a team of data scientists at KAYAK, a leading travel search engine, who analyzed the site's more than one billion annual searches to identify 2016 travel trends and insights.  

    December 2015 – Based on an analysis of more than five million reviews of more than 20,000 restaurants across the country, Open Table selected five restaurants in San Francisco  (Acquerello , Benu, Kusakabe, La Folie, Quince) and five located in other parts of the Bay Area (the French Laundry in Yountville, Ambience in Los Altos, Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant in Forestville and St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in Santa Rosa)to their list of the 100 Best Restaurants in America. Acquerello and St. Francis Winery & Vineyards were also named in the Top 10 list. 

    October 2015 – San Francisco is home to three of the top 50 bars in the world, according to Drinks International, an international beverage journal. The local establishments recognized on the global list were Smuggler’s Cove (#31), Trick Dog (#40) and Tommy’s Joynt (#47).   

    October 2015 - San Francisco was named #2 on Conde Nast Traveler’s list of the Best Big Cities in the U.S. in the 2015 Readers Choice Awards.  With an overall rating of 84.298, the city was described affectionately: “Long considered an incubator of innovation, San Francisco thrives in more ways than one: In addition to its strong start-up culture, it enjoys world-class arts, stunning scenery, and culinary prowess. Start your day with a fresh-baked olive roll from Acme Bread in the Ferry Building and hop on a Powell-Hyde streetcar for an uphill roll past some of the city’s characteristic, colorful buildings. Locals won’t miss a stroll along the shoreline at Golden Gate Promenade.” 

    October 2015 – A record 50 San Francisco Bay Area restaurants received one, two or three star ratings in the 2015 Michelin Guide, the internationally-recognized guide to quality dining. 

    October 2015 – analyzed feedback from millions of travelers to determine which cities in America are consistently rated as the most beautiful and San Francisco came in at number one. 

    October 2015 - TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals analyzed California’s rental popularity in 2015 from non-US travelers (based on the amount of interest vacation rental properties in each destination received).  San Francisco took the top spot for vacation rental popularity from international guests. It’s said that a vacation rental is one of the most romantic ways to experience San Francisco.  Their study found that international renters were coming from:
    England (15%)
    Australia (14%)
    Canada (10%)
    France (8%)
    Germany (5%)

    August 2015 - Bon Appétit magazine named San Francisco “The Best Food City in the Country Right Now.”  Andrew Knowlton, Bon Appétit deputy editor, wrote that “Over four days and 15 meals, San Francisco proved itself on culinary fire in 2015…I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a concentration of exciting and invigorating restaurants in a single year, in a single season. Not even in New York…Yep, the city’s eating scene is having a great year. I’d say it’s time to pay it a visit.”   When asked about his decision, he said, “San Francisco (and its restaurants and chefs) did all the hard work. My job was easy…eating!”  

    July 2015 – San Francisco’s AT&T Park topped Buzzfeed’s list of the best major league ballparks.  The food highlights: Garlic sourdough with crab sammie from Crazy Crab’z.  The overall verdict: “Probably the most picturesque park in existence, the home of the Giants has A LOT going for it. There’s the varied and delicious food, some surprisingly good beer, consistently pleasant weather and a winning team to boot. It’s a breezy, retro park that, let’s face it, has pretty much everything you could ask for.”

    July 2015 –– San Francisco is ranked No. 5 on the list of Top Cities in the U.S. and Canada, according to the Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2015 readers’ survey.   The St. Regis in San Francisco ranks No. 16 on the list of Top Large City Hotels in the Continental U.S. and is the top-rated hotel in San Francisco.  San Francisco-based Virgin America is named the Best Domestic Airline for the eighth consecutive year.

    June 2015 - Of the top 25 landmarks in the world, San Francisco’s Alcatraz is rated number eight and the Golden Gate Bridge is number ten in Trip Advisor’s Travelers’ Choice World Wonders for 2015.  These are the highest ranking locations in the United States, followed by the Lincoln Memorial (18) and the National September 11 Memorial (20).    “To be included on the same page as Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China is quite an honor.  It reminds us that San Francisco’s landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz resonate deeply with travelers from around the world,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association. 

    June 2015 – The City of San Francisco has been honored with a 2015 Playful City USA designation for the ninth time. The national recognition program honors cities and towns across the country for making their cities more playable. San Francisco, with its 179 city-maintained playgrounds and play areas, adapts to its surrounding communities and is installing new innovative playground models to encourage active play and facilitate healthy and successful child development.  For more information on the Playful City USA program, visit

    February 2015 – named San Francisco the number three destination in the United States and number five destination in the world in the 2015 Travelers’ Favorites Awards.  The editors wrote, “Search any list of top ten favorite cities in the country (or the world), and you'll almost always find San Francisco. The clanging cable cars, Victorian row houses, quirky neighborhoods and drop-dead gorgeous waterfront make this city by the bay a traveler's paradise…”  . 

    January 2015 – GayCities, the world's largest LGBT community-driven city guide and travel site, named San Francisco a three-time winner in its “ Best of GayCities 2014” competition:
    Best Gayborhood 
    Marriage Mecca 
    Playing the Field 
    Nominees included more than 60 of the world's best destinations in twelve categories.

    December 2014 - On December 4, President Barack Obama recognized San Francisco as a Climate Action Champion for the city’s steadfast leadership on climate change. The President’s recognition of San Francisco’s leadership affirms the important role of cities in fighting climate change while actions at the national and international levels continue to stagnate.  As a global center of innovation and environmental action, San Francisco is setting aggressive goals and reducing carbon pollution while saving residents money, improving their health, addressing equity, and creating jobs. In fact, San Francisco has successfully reduced our greenhouse gas emissions while our economy and population have both grown.   San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions for 2010 were 14.5 percent below 1990 levels. The city aims to achieve reductions of 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2017, and 40 percent by 2025.

    December 2014 –National Geographic Traveler selected the Presidio as one of 20 “Best of the World” destinations for 2015.   The editors wrote, “The virile park of viridian woods and knockout vistas can make travelers forget its original function was for war, not Instagram.  To San Franciscans, it’s both muse and playground—with the latest addition being the newly reopened Officers’ Club, reimagined as a local hub for exhibits, performances, and dining.”

    November 2014 - In Travel + Leisure magazine’s survey of America’s Favorite Cities, San Francisco came in first for Wine and second for Wine Bars, third for Romantic Escape and also Gay-friendly Vacation, and fifth for People-watching. 

    October 2014 – Three restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area were named in Trip Advisor’s list of Travelers Favorite Fine Dining Restaurants in the United States. Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco was third on the list of 25, The French Laundry in Yountville was named at number 18 and Chez Panisse in Berkeley came in at number 22.   San Francisco received more mentions than any other U.S. city except New York.

    September, 2014 – The readers of Saveur magazine voted San Francisco the “Best Culinary Destination, Large Domestic” in the second annual Saveur Culinary Travel Awards.  According to Saveur, “San Francisco, as our readers have discovered, has never been tastier. Food lovers are flocking to this unassuming yet proudly original culinary mecca for its unique take on sustainable, seasonal cuisine, its vibrant street-food scene, its innovative eateries, and its bars for every budget.”  San Francisco was also the Readers’ Choice winner in the category of “Best Markets and Shops, Domestic.”

    September 2014 – Sunset magazine named San Francisco “The Best Place to Start a Career.”   The appeal was given an historical perspective:  “Young hopefuls have swarmed to San Francisco for the Gold Rush, for the Summer of Love, and now for the new Tech Boom.”

    July 2014 – scored San Francisco number one on their list of “America’s Coolest Cities.”  San Francisco also ranked at the top of the lists for “The World’s Best Cities to Eat Well” and “The Most Gay Friendly Cities in America.”

    April 2014 – The 2014 FamilyFun Travel Awards named San Francisco one of the Top 10 kid-friendly cities in the country.  The results appeared in the April print and tablet editions as well as online at The findings stated, “With its many unique ethnic, cultural, and historic neighborhoods, San Francisco is like a dozen cities in one -- and there are enough parks, museums, restaurants, and attractions to outfit them all. Plus, getting around is half the fun, thanks to the city's famous cable cars and jaw-dropping hills.”

    January 2014 – San Francisco tied with Marseille, France, for Best City in Wallpaper Magazine’s 2014 Design Awards.  “Less daunting than New York and more compact than LA, San Francisco is relatively straightforward to navigate, a quality buoyed by the 2013 launch of the Bay Area Bike Share scheme. A lively food scene is led by some of the country’s most creative chefs, including Danny Bowien at Mission Chinese Food and Saison’s Joshua Skenes. Museums by Renzo Piano and Daniel Libeskind will soon be joined by Snøhetta’s SFMOMA expansion, with Pier 15’s new Exploratorium keeping things ticking along nicely in the meantime.”  Judges included Victoria Beckham, Spike Jonze, Thaddaeus Ropac, Michael Chow, Ron Gilad and Thom Mayne.   

    January 2014 – Best of GayCities 2013, the largest interactive promotion for gay travelers, found San Francisco tops in “Utopian Pride” and “U.S. Marriage Mecca.”   

    January 2014 – named San Francisco the #1 Best City to Have a Baby.  “It’s California’s ‘city by the bay’ — but it could just as easily be called ‘city for the babies’ — that’s how much San Francisco cares about its youngest citizens and their mamas.”

    November 2013 – San Francisco was named one of the top three shopping cities in United States (right after New York City and Chicago) by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler. “San Francisco provides a ‘world-class shopping’ experience—so much so that one reader described the city as a ‘giant outdoor shopping mall.’ It's hardly all mall stores, though. Haight-Ashbury offers juice bars and vintage shops, while the Ferry Building houses a massive Famers' Market every Saturday morning—plan to stock up on handcrafted soaps, jams, and honeys.”  

    November 2013 - Saveur, named San Francisco Experts' Choice: Best Markets & Artisan Shops in the magazine’s Culinary Travel Awards.   Saveur’s panelists singled out San Francisco as the world’s best city for food markets and artisan shops not only for the depth and breadth of its offerings, but for the level of support the city’s growers, bakers and makers receive from residents as well.  

    November 2013 - Condé Nast Traveler named San Francisco one of the Top 10 Cities in the United States in the 2013 Readers' Choice Awards.  According to the magazine, “San Francisco nabbed third place with its ‘world of culture’ and ‘class.’  ‘I left my heart…’ said one reader, which may have something to do with the "great art museums, opera, food, symphony and beautiful neighborhoods."  A new category was added this year, the Top 10 Hotels in San Francisco.  Honor went to the St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton, Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons, Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, Orchard Hotel, Fairmont, Hotel Vitale, Argonaut Hotel and Orchard Garden Hotel.   The Top 25 Hotels in Northern California included Cavallo Point and Inn Above Tide, both across San Francisco Bay in Sausalito. 

    July 2013 – There are more vegetarians in American than ever, with 7.3 million vegetarians and 1 million vegans around the country. However, finding appropriate dining venues while traveling can still be a challenge. TravelNerd found the top 10 cities for vegetarians and San Francisco made the list because of the quality of its restaurants. TravelNerd specifically looked for cities with large communities of vegetarians and vegans and plenty of dining options. They focused on finding fresh, healthy options that featured local, organic produce for travelers to really get a taste of that city’s culinary style.

    July 2013 -–Trip Advisor’s Travelers’ Choice 2013 awards ranked San Francisco as the #2 city in the top 25 U.S. destinations and the #7 in the top 25 spots in the world. Readers are advised, “Every neighborhood in San Francisco has its own personality, from the hippie chic of the Upper Haight to the hipster grit of the Mission. The Marina district boasts trendy bistros and postcard-perfect views of the Golden Gate Bridge, while Noe Valley offers quaint and quiet boutiques. Wave hello to the sea lions at Pier 39, and sample local cheese and charcuterie at the Ferry Building. Sit in on a yoga session in Dolores Park or marvel at the Dutch Windmill across from Ocean Beach.”

    June 2013 – The Smartfood brand, with support from SELF magazine, announced the list of Top 10 SMARTest Cities in America with San Francisco in the top spot.  “San Francisco is full of active, socially responsible and eco-friendly residents that make it a natural choice as the nation’s SMARTest City,” the company said.  Smartfood redefined SMART to align with the brand’s goal of eating and living well - Savvy, Motivated, Accomplished, Responsible and Thoughtful. They used the five criteria to determine the SMARTest cities in America.  San Francisco was found to be savvy with more than 25 farmers markets.  The city is motivated because 43,000 Bay Area residents use a bicycle as their primary means of getting to work every day.  Residents are accomplished as evidenced by the fact that San Francisco has the second most female college graduates in the country and seven of the ten most visited websites are headquartered in the Bay Area.  With more than 1,000 hotels certified as “green” and “eco-friendly,” San Francisco is clearly responsible.  The San Francisco Bay Area has more than 580 philanthropies, proof of thoughtfulness. 

    June 2013 – Inthe first national, county-level assessment of how health and environmental factors affect the well-being of children younger than 18, U.S. News & World Report named San Francisco the #2 healthiest county for kids.  “America’s 50 Healthiest Counties for Kids” named Marin County, located on the north side of the Golden Gate, as #1.

    May 2013 – TravelNerd named San Francisco #2 in the “Top 10 Urban Destinations for Nature-Lovers.” TravelNerd analyzed the numbers to find the best destinations for nature-lovers who want enjoy the atmosphere of a city as well as easy access to nature, based upon three questions: Does the city set aside space for parks?  Are there national parks nearby?  Is the weather nice enough to spend time outside?  They reported, “With 11 national parks in the vicinity, especially just over the Golden Gate Bridge, and accessible parks around the city, San Francisco is a great place for nature-lovers to gather and take in the sea air.”

    April 2013 - Walk Score, the leading measure of walkability, analyzed travel data and named San Francisco #2 on the list of “Top 10 US Cities to Travel Car-Free.” They examined the Walk Score (walkability rating) and Transit Score (measure of public transit access) and car shares within an easy walk of hotels. San Francisco offers more hotel rooms in walkable neighborhoods and green transportation options than nearly any other city. 

    January 2013 – named San Francisco the best “Scenic City” and “Pride City” in their “Best of Gay Cities 2012” feature.   The LGBT website says, “The ‘City by the Bay’ is one of the world's most panoramic, open and vibrant, attracting millions of tourists each year. Gay San Francisco is absolutely integral to that well-deserved reputation, integrated into every aspect of the city's life, from nightlife to politics to fashion to construction. And gay life is hardly limited geographically to the Castro; you'll find gay people everywhere…Truly San Francisco earns its reputation as the cool, gray city of love.”

    December 2012 – named San Francisco “Best U.S. Port” in their 2012 Editors’ Picks Awards, , describing it as “One of the most beautiful cities in America to sail into, San Francisco has long been a contender as one of the country's best ports. But new efforts to redevelop its waterfront and build a state-of-the-art cruise terminal combined with fantastic sightseeing and easy-to-access air service, put it over the top.”

    November 2012 – Gogobot (, a global community of in-the-know travelers sharing insider tips on the world's best destinations, announced the first Gogobot Travelers' Favorite Awards, a newly unveiled honor determined by the votes and recommendations of Gogobot's 2.5 million users, their friends and like-minded travelers in their network. From more than 60,000 places visited, Gogobot users selected San Francisco as the best travel destination in the world.  

    October 2012 – San Francisco was named the #1 city in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2013. “We chose San Francisco as the #1 city to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2013 because we think travelers should give this perennial favorite a fresh look this year,” says Suki Gear, commissioning editor for Lonely Planet. “The city always guarantees amazing travel experiences, but the America's Cup will breathe new life into the waterfront (in addition to the expanded Exploratorium at Pier 15). New trend-setting restaurants, galleries and shops are popping up daily, so we have every reason to believe San Francisco will be shining more brightly than ever in 2013.”

    September 2012 – BloombergBusinessweek ranked San Francico #1 on its list of America’s 50 Best Cities.  “The City by the Bay, this year's winner, provides residents with the best blend of entertainment, education, safety, clear air, and a prosperous economic base. As the heart of the Bay Area, San Francisco draws on the prosperity of Silicon Valley and possesses its own diverse history well represented at cultural centers such as the de Young Museum. Residents care fiercely about their cafés and causes; night life flourishes in the Mission and the Castro, while tech companies code away in SoMa.”

    May 2012 – The Trust for Public Land Park Score rates San Francisco’s urban park system the best in the U.S. Based on a scale of zero to five park benches, San Francisco leads the nation with 4.5 benches and a score of 74 out of a maximum of 100 points. Considered one of the most comprehensive park rating systems ever developed, ParkScore was designed to help local communities identify where new parks are needed most and which park improvements deliver the greatest impact. 

    April 2012 – San Francisco took top honors in the U.S. City with Best Gay Festivals category in the inaugural Grindr Gay Travel Awards. Grindr, an all-male geo-social network app, polled 3.5 million users in 192 countries to determine the winners. The results were announced at the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association conference.

    February 2012 – Based on an analysis of results from 28 million people who took the RealAge test, pioneered by Dr. Michel Roizen of “The You Docs” team, San Francisco placed first in the 2012 Top Cities for Staying Young in America. Twenty-two factors from the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas were reviewed.  


    November 2016 – San Francisco Travel received an Adrian Award from the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI).  The San Francisco Culinary Campaign won a Gold Award in the category of Digital Marketing/Integrated Market Campaign for Consumers (B2C).   Founded in 1957, the HSMAI Adrian Awards embraces every segment of the industry, including hotels, airlines, cruise lines, car rental companies, destinations, credit card companies and more. Winners are selected from a field of nearly 1,200 entries by senior industry and media experts

    August 2016 - San Francisco Travel Association won Meetings & Conventions (M&C) magazine’s "Gold Service Award” for the 29th time.  The organization is a member of the award’s Hall of Fame.  Relying on their extensive industry experience in both corporate and association markets, M&C’s readers voted for the top CVBs based on key criteria including professionalism of staff; support on hotels and site inspections; assistance with ground transportation planning; guidance on local attractions; and liaison with local venders and services.

    July 2016 – San Francisco Travel’s website,, was named to “The 25 Best Tourism Websites in the World in 2016” by Writer Greg Oates reported, “If ever there was a city that needs to define the individual character of its neighborhoods, it’s San Francisco. The website features good map functionality on the homepage, and there’s also valuable Airbnb-supplied content where hosts contribute their favorite local hangouts.”

    October 2015 - Smart Meetings magazine named the San Francisco Travel Association as a winner of its Platinum Choice award. This is the 12th time the organization has received this honor. The prestigious award recognizes the “best of the best”—114 hotels and 78 convention and visitors bureaus or destination marketing companies across North America—voted on by meeting professionals, the Smart Meetings editorial team and Smart Meetings readers. 

    September 2015 – San Francisco Travel won the 2015 American Graphic Design Awards for their Partner Services & Events Annual Luncheon Program and the San Francisco Travel Sales Kit Brochure (in partnership with their agency Teak). For five decades, Graphic Design USA has sponsored competitions to spotlight areas of excellence and opportunity for creative professionals. GDUSA’s American Graphic Design Awards is the original and flagship and receives nearly 10,000 entries.  

    August 2015 – San Francisco Travel is recognized as a Green Certified Business by the City and County of San Francisco. The San Francisco Green Business Program helps San Francisco businesses operate in an environmentally responsible manner and recognizes them for their efforts. The San Francisco Green Business Program team is made of up of three City agencies: San Francisco Department of Public Health, SF Environment and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

    April 2015 - San Francisco Travel receives Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification for Commercial Interiors from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This distinction is held by only two percent of commercial office spaces in the United States. 

    April 2015 - The readers of Successful Meetings selected the San Francisco Travel Association to receive the magazine’s Pinnacle Award for providing outstanding service in their meeting programs.  This is the 24th time that San Francisco has received this award.

    April 2015 - San Francisco Travel was selected for the 2015 California Excellence Award by the US Commerce & Trade Research Institute (USCTRI). Each year the USCTRI conducts business surveys and industry research to identify companies that have achieved demonstrable success in their local business environment and industry category. They are recognized as having enhanced the commitment and contribution of small businesses through service to their customers and community. According to the USCTRI, “San Francisco Travel has consistently demonstrated a high regard for upholding business ethics and company values. This recognition by USCTRI marks a significant achievement as an emerging leader within various competitors and is setting benchmarks that the industry should follow.”

    October 2014 - The San Francisco Travel Association was named winner of the 2014 Association Real Estate Award in the category of Professional Association with Large Staff Size.  ASAE Business Services, Inc. and Savills Studley, the provider of the ASAE-Endorsed Real Estate Solution, announced the winners, recognizing associations and nonprofits with office spaces that, by design, generate member engagement and involvement.  San Francisco Travel moved into their award-winning new space in May 2014.  The new headquarters on the 29th floor at One Front Street was designed to reflect the spirit and creativity of the city while incorporating cutting edge design, a preference for local artists and materials, and a commitment to sustainability.

    October 2014 – San Francisco Travel’s new Partnership Sales Packet was selected in the 52nd annual American Graphic Design Awards.  The award honors outstanding new work across all disciplines.   The packet was created by San Francisco Travel’s in-house designer Ron Shapiro.

    August 2013 – San Francisco Travel’s newly-redesigned Visitors Planning Guide won a Gold award in the 2013 Content Marketing Awards, presented by Content Marketing Institute, in the “Most Improved editorial” category.

    January 2013 - NBC News named San Francisco Travel’s Twitter feed at @onlyinsf as the #1 most popular city in the United States, based on the number of followers. Less than two weeks earlier, San Francisco Travel also surpassed 500,000 “likes” or “fans” on the Facebook page, titled “San Francisco – The Official Guide."

    September 2012 – The San Francisco Travel Association received the 2012 Destiny Award from the U.S. Travel Association for Best Full Marketing Campaign.  The award honors the “49 Hours of SF: Arts & Culture” campaign which ran in June-September, 2011.  The cooperative multi-media marketing program leveraged the city’s world-renowned arts and culture offerings to attract overnight visitors during the summer months.

    August 2012 - The San Francisco Travel Association was honored as “Best Place for Small Meetings” and “Best Destination Video” by Convene -- the magazine of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) – in its first "Best of the Industry" Awards.

    March 2012 - The San Francisco Travel Association received the Excellence in Tourism Marketing Award from Visit California, which honored destinations and attractions statewide for outstanding tourism advertising, marketing and public relations programs.  San Francisco Travel won in the new category of Best Integrated Marketing Campaign for their multi-media campaign, “49 Hours of SF: Arts & Culture” which was designed to boost summer business from Los Angeles. 



    • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) was selected as a 2016 honoree by IDG’s CIO magazine, a globally-recognized resource for Chief Information Officers and information technology leaders.  In its 29th annual “CIO 100” awards, the magazine recognized SFO’s Information Technology and Telecommunications (ITT) group for their innovative use of information technology to create and deliver business value.
    • The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) has named the new Airport Traffic Control Tower at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) the 2016 “Grand Conceptor Award Winner” for employing a cutting-edge vertical post-tensioned system, enabling the tower to remain upright and fully operational after a major earthquake.  The tower is the tallest structure in the U.S. to employ the post-tensioning concept.  The 221-foot-tall torch-shaped tower and offset control “cab” creates a distinctive form that sets a new design standard while being seismically sound and meeting the FAA’s strict requirements.  The facility includes walkways connecting Terminals 1 and 2 both pre- and post-security.  Designed to achieve LEED Gold status from the U.S. Green Building Council, the facility features include photovoltaic panels, natural daylight in offices and the public lobby, a roof garden, low-flow plumbing fixtures, energy-efficient heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems, programmable light-emitting diode (LED) lighting; electric vehicle charging stations, and sustainably-produced interior finish materials. This advanced certification is the first for an airport in California and only the second awarded to an airport in North America.
    • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) scored multiple awards for its food and beverage programs in the annual USA Today Readers’ Choice awards.  The Airport was honored as 10Best winner in the “Best Airport for Dining” category, and Lark Creek Grill, located in Terminal 2, was named on the 10Best list for “Best Airport Bar/Restaurant Wait Staff”.
    • The new Airport Traffic Control Tower at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has been honored as the top engineering project in the State of California in 2015.  The tower was recognized with the annual “Golden State Award” by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) for its innovative and collaborative approach to design and construction.  The new tower is the tallest structure in the United States to employ a cutting-edge vertical post-tensioned system, enabling the tower to remain upright and fully operational after a major earthquake.


    • Travel Weekly recognized the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) with Gold and Silver Magellan awards for excellence.  In the “Airports and Airlines” category, SFO was named the Gold Award winner for the “Extra Swiss” social media contest, and achieved a Silver Award for leadership in environmental sustainability. 
    • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) was honored with a 2015 “Best of California” award by the Center for Digital Government, which recognizes public-sector employees and local government organizations for their contribution to information technology issues in the State of California.  In the category of “Best In-House Developed Application,” SFO was recognized for creating an Application-Based Commercial Transport System, which tracks app-enabled commercial vehicles operating at the airport boundaries.
    • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has been named “Best Airport in the Americas” by the readers of Frequent Business Traveler, an online publication written for and by the world’s most experienced and savvy international travelers.  The 2015 Frequent Business Traveler GlobeRunner Awards recognize the world's best airlines, airports, hotel chains, automobile manufacturers, car rental agencies, luggage manufacturers, and travel-related websites.  SFO was previously recognized with this award in 2012.  See the complete list of winners at 
    • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has been honored with multiple awards for its concessions and amenities programs in the Airport Revenue News (ARN) 2015 Best Airport & Concession Awards program.  SFO was honored with the following awards: 
      - Overall Concessions Program
      - Program – Large Airport
      - Best Concession Management Team

      In January 2014, SFO launched an innovative “pop-up” concession concept in its newly-renovated Terminal 3, Boarding Area E.  The concept allowed small businesses representing the San Francisco Bay Area to gain access to the Airport, with move-in ready facilities designed to reduce the initial start-up costs that challenge many small businesses.

    • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has been named the #1 airport in North America for customer service in the SkyTrax Passengers’ Choice Awards for 2015. SFO took the top spot in the “Best Airport Staff in North America” category, followed by Denver and Vancouver airports. SFO also ranked fourth in the “Best Airports Worldwide (40 million to 50 million passengers)” and “Best Airports in North America” categories. The annual SkyTrax survey is regarded as the most respected study of airport quality around the world. The absence of any sponsorship, payment or external influence ensures that the results are fully impartial and credible.  For the 2015 awards, SkyTrax compiled over 13 million survey questionnaires completed by 112 different customer nationalities from May 2014 to January 2015. The survey covered 550 airports worldwide, evaluating the travel experience from a variety of factors, including check-in, arrivals, departures, transfers, shopping, security and immigration.


    • The San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has been recognized with a 2014 Environmental Achievement Award by the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA).  In the Mitigation Award category, SFO was honored for its Recovery Action Plan, which ensures the protection of two endangered species on a 180-acre undeveloped area of the Airport.
    • Airports Council International–North America (ACI-NA), the foremost advocate for airport operators in North America, has awarded San Francisco International Airport (SFO) its highest honor for the airport’s Marketing & Communications efforts, the 2014 “Peggy G. Hereford Award”.  This award is widely recognized throughout the airport world as the highest honor an airport can earn in the public and media relations field.  SFO was also recognized with awards in seven categories: 1st Place - Websites (Traditional) for the re-launched

      1st Place - Creative Innovations – Technology for “The SFO Flight Deck” in T3, Boarding Area E
      2nd Place - Video and Film for the “Inside SFO” series.
      3rd Place - Mobile Website/Apps for the responsive design of
      3rd Place - Marketing Campaigns for the “Travel Well” campaign
      3rd Place - Brochures for The SFO Museum exhibit brochures
      3rd Place - Special Events for the re-opening of T3, Boarding Area E

    • The official website of the San Francisco International Airport (SFO),, was named “Best in Class” in the 2014 Interactive Media AwardsTM.  In the Transportation category, SFO’s website received the highest honor, having scored a perfect 100 in the areas of content and feature functionality.  Redesigned in August 2013, the website boasts simplified navigation, flight tracking, and information translated in eight languages.  A responsive web design includes a custom home page for mobile use which provides the most important information for travelers on the go.                                                                                                              
    • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) was recognized with multiple awards in the SkyTrax Passengers’ Choice Awards for 2014. SFO was ranked third in the “Best Airports Worldwide (40 million to 50 million passengers)” category, after Seoul-Incheon and Kuala Lumpur International Airports.  SFO was also rated fourth in the “Best Airports in North America” category and fifth in the “Best Staff (Customer Service) in North America.”
    • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has been named “Best Airport” by Outside Magazine’s 2014 Travel Awards for the renovation of Terminal 3, Boarding Area E (T3E).  Completed in January 2014, the $138-million, 10-gate boarding area features a one-of-a-kind interactive technology known as “Flight Deck”, locally-sourced concessions, private changing rooms, and a Yoga room.  With abundant natural light, photovoltaic energy support, and fixtures that reduce water consumption, the facility is anticipated to earn LEED® Gold certification.


    • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) was recognized with the 2013 “Airports Going Green” Award for incorporating sustainability into its guidelines for Planning, Design and Construction (PD&C).  SFO staff members were present to accept the award and a ceremony hosted by the Chicago Department of Aviation.
    • San Francisco was named an official winner in USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest for  ”Best U.S. Airports for Art.”   
    • The FlipKey blog, at Trip Advisor company, named San Francisco International Airport one of the top ten U.S. Airports for health and wellness.
    • The FlipKey blog, at Trip Advisor company, named San Francisco International Airport one of the top ten U.S. Airports for long layovers.
    • A-List Mom Travel ranked SFO the second best airport terminal for kids (after O’Hare).  


    • “Airports Going Green” Award for Employee Wellness Program
    • Gold Award: Airport - Overall - Eco-Friendly "Green" Airport — Travel Weekly 2012 Magellan Awards
    • Silver Award: Airport - Overall - Social Media — Travel Weekly 2012 Magellan Awards
    • Best Airport in the Americas— Frequent Business Traveler GlobeRunner Awards
    • Best Single Social Media Promotion— Travel + Leisure Social Media in Travel + Tourism Awards (SMITTYs) 
    • Best Airport Staff in North America— Skytrax
    • 2nd Place - Best Regional (U.S.) Airport— Skytrax
    • 3rd Place - Best Airport in North America— Skytrax
    • 4th Place - Best Terminal in the World (Terminal 2)— Skytrax
    • Best Infrastructure (Terminal 2)— San Francisco Business Times
    • Airport with Best Concession Program Design, Large Airports— Airport Revenue News
    • Airport with Most Unique Services, Large Airports— Airport Revenue News
    • Airport with Best Overall Concessions Program, Large Airports— Airport Revenue News
    • Terminal with the Best Program Design (Terminal 2), Single Terminal Division— Airport Revenue News
    • Terminal with the Best Customer Service (Terminal 2), Single Terminal Division— Airport Revenue News
    • Terminal with the Best Concession Management Team (Terminal 2), Single Terminal Division— Airport Revenue News

    For awards and honors received prior to 2012, contact [email protected]

    The San Francisco Travel Association is the official tourism marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, activities and more, visit or call 415-391-2000.  The Visitor Information Center is located at 900 Market St. in Hallidie Plaza, lower level, near the Powell Street cable car turnaround. 

    American Express® is the official Card partner of the San Francisco Travel Association.

    San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop flights to more than 34 international cities on 29 international carriers. The Bay Area's largest airport connects non-stop with 78 cities in the U.S. on 15 domestic airlines. SFO is proud to offer upgraded free Wi-Fi with no advertising. For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps and details on shopping, dining, cultural exhibitions, ground transportation and more, visit Follow us on and

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    Note to editors: For news and story ideas, follow @SFMediaRelation on Twitter.  Photos and press releases are available at