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Haters, stand back—National Geographic votes SF ‘Best of the World’

People are seen at the Dolores Park in San Francisco during Covid pandemic on May 22, 2020. | Ahmet Karaman/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images | Source: Ahmet Karaman/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Despite how the internet makes you feel, it’s not all doom and gloom for San Francisco—National Geographic included the city in its “Best of the World” list for 2023, a roundup created to encourage travelers to explore new destinations. 

San Francisco was the only California city and one of just six locations within the United States to make the magazine’s list of “25 breathtaking places and experiences for 2023.” Amy Alipio, a senior editor at the publication, said the city was ultimately included because of the opportunities it offers for enjoying nature within an urban environment.

“The city is really re-imagining its outdoor space,” Alipio said, “which totally fits National Geographic.”

She cited the Crosstown Trail and Presidio Tunnel Tops as two options for families to enjoy nature in the city in a new way. 

“Travel should educate and illuminate, but it should also be fun,” said Alipio of the decision to include San Francisco in the list, noting the importance of selecting locales that are not boring or static. 

From left, Krayla, 9, and Kyanna Hogg-Lawson, 4, play on a climbing wall at the Outpost, a 2-acre outdoor play area at the Presidio Tunnel Tops on Friday, June 10, 2022 in San Francisco, Calif. | Brian Feulner for The Standard

The list’s creation is a collaborative effort on the part of National Geographic’s editorial teams throughout the world. “It’s a great mix of familiar places and places you might never have heard of.” 

San Francisco landed in the Family subcategory of the travel roundup. The other destinations listed in the same category were Switzerland, Colombia, Manchester (England) and Trinidad and Tobago—all of which are intended to appeal to multiple generations.

National Geographic has been publishing its “Best of the World” list for 11 years. Additional categories include Nature, Culture and Adventure—and the category of Community was added for the first time this year to highlight sustainability in tourism.

While San Francisco is often touted as a town that has more dogs than kids, it’s also a wonderful place to raise a family—with this ranking serving up yet more evidence in the city’s favor.  

Alipio noted that San Francisco came up repeatedly as editors were trying to make the final cut.

As for all that negative press, Alipio added: “Sometimes when you’re from a place it’s hard to see how cool it is.”