101 Beautiful San Francisco Quotes to Keep You California Dreaming

San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States, if not the world, and so it’s no surprise that countless artists, writers, comedians, filmmakers, and other creatives around the world have tried to describe this beautiful place.

As a Bay Area native, I love finding quotes about San Francisco that capture the essence of the city and bottle in it a few pithy words. And so I’ve curated just that: 101 beautiful San Francisco quotes that capture all the complex beauty of this city from several different angles.

I hope these quotes about San Francisco bring a little of that San Francisco magic to your life or inspire your travels to San Francisco!

Want some more California quotes? I have collected some beautiful quotes about the Golden Gate, quotes about Yosemite, and quotes about redwoods!

Song Quotes About San Francisco

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“I left my heart in San Francisco, high on a hill, it calls to me. To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars, the morning fog may chill the air, I don’t care. My love waits there in San Francisco, above the blue and windy sea, when I come home to you, San Francisco, your golden sun will shine for me.” — Tony Bennett

“I left my heart in San Francisco. High on a hill it calls to me to be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars! The morning fog may chill the air, I don’t care! My love waits there in San Francisco, above the blue and windy sea. When I come home to you, San Francisco, your golden sun will shine for me!” — Duke Ellington

“Thinking of the one I love, you know what I’m thinking of San Francisco days, San Francisco nights” — Chris Isaak

“San Francisco, open your golden gate, You’ll let nobody wait outside your door, San Francisco, here is your wanderin’ one, Sayin’ I’ll wander no more, Other places only make me love you best, Tell me you’re the one in all the golden west, San Francisco, I’m coming home again, Never to roam again” — Rufus Wainwright

“Lonely little San Francisco teardrops Mixed with lonely San Francisco raindrops Frantically I try to find the way to say What I feel in my heart As I drive as slowly as I can up To the ramp that says depart Pride has closed my lips and I suppose That I have grown too big to cry Well, what could be as lonely as a San Francisco airport kiss goodbye” – Marty Robbins

“I left my heart in San Francisco I left my heart, people, in San Francisco High on the hill, at the Golden Gate, ‘cross the bay In San Francisco, on the hill, the mornin’ fog And the cool, cool night That’s where I wanna be: San Francisco That’s where my heart is” — John Lee Hooker

“If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear a flower in your hair.” — Scott McKenzie

Quotes About Living in San Francisco

“Every morning in San Francisco was a bit like waking up on the edge of the earth: beautiful and damp and wild, full of the strange music people make, open-armed, into the wind.” — Elizabeth Percer

“‘What brings you up to the City?’ he said when we were inside. To San Franciscans, there’s only one city.” — Ross Macdonald

“No city invites the heart to come to life as San Francisco does. Arrival in San Francisco is an experience in living.” — William Saroyan

“San Francisco itself is art… every block is a short story, every hill a novel, every home a poem.” — William Saroyan

“I can walk down the streets of San Francisco, and here I’m normal.” — Robin Williams

“San Francisco is a city where people are never more abroad than when they are at home.” — Benjamin F. Taylor

“A bend reveals a sudden vision of San Francisco in shades of blue, a city in a dream, and I was filled with a tremendous yearning to live in that place of blue hills and blue buildings, though I do live there, I had just left there after breakfast.” — Rebecca Solnit

Quotes on Leaving San Francisco

“San Francisco has only one drawback – ’tis hard to leave.” — Rudyard Kipling

“Leaving San Francisco is like saying goodbye to an old sweetheart. You want to linger as long as possible.” — Walter Cronkite

“I left my heart in San Francisco.” — Tony Bennett

“San Francisco is a golden handcuff with the key thrown away.” — John Steinbeck

Poetic Quotes About San Francisco

“The light of San Francisco
is a sea light
an island light
And the light of fog
blanketing the hills
drifting in at night
through the Golden Gate
to lie on the city at dawn…”
— Lawrence Ferlinghetti

“There lies new San Francisco,
Sea-maid in purple dressed,
Wearing a dancer’s girdle
All to inflame desire:
Scorning her days of sackcloth,
Scorning her cleansing fire.”
— Vachel Lindsay

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“The air is chill, and the day grows late,
And the clouds come in through the Golden Gate:
Phantom fleets they seem to me,
From a shoreless and unsounded sea;
Their shadowy spars and misty sails,
Unshattered, have weathered a thousand gales:
Slow wheeling, lo! in squadrons gray,
They part, and hasten along the bay.”
— Edward Pollock

“At the end of our streets is sunrise;
At the end of our streets are spars;
At the end of our streets is sunset;
At the end of our streets the stars.Ever the winds of morning
Are cool from the flashing sea –
Flowing swift from our ocean,
Till the fog-dunes crumble and flee.”
— George Sterling

Funny Quotes About San Francisco

“Anyone who doesn’t have a great time in San Francisco is pretty much dead to me.” — Anthony Bourdain

“Los Angeles? That’s just a big parking lot where you buy a hamburger for the trip to San Francisco.” — John Lennon

“Every man should be allowed to love two cities, his own and San Francisco.” — Gene Fowler

“It is an odd thing, but everyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco.” — Oscar Wilde

“One day, if I go to heaven… I’ll look around and say, ‘it ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.” — Herb Caen

“There are plans for a new high-speed train between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It will make the trip time 30 minutes. People in L.A. are like, Yes! And people in San Francisco are like, Yeah, sure, great. We look forward to seeing you.” — Craig Ferguson

“Whoever after due and proper warning shall be heard to utter the abominable word “Frisco”, which has no linguistic or other warrant, shall be deemed guilty of High Misdemeanour, and shall pay into the Imperial Treasury as penalty the sum of twenty-five dollars.” — Emperor Norton

“I have seen purer liquors, better cigars, finer tobacco, truer guns and pistols, larger dirks and bowie knives, and prettier women courtesans here in San Francisco than in any other place I have ever visited.” — Hinton Rowan Helper

“I always see about six scuffles a night when I come to San Francisco. That’s one of the town’s charms.” — Errol Flynn

“Isn’t it nice that people who prefer Los Angeles to San Francisco live there?” — Herb Caen

“America only has three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everything else is Cleveland.” — Tennessee Williams

“San Francisco is the only city I can think of that can survive all the things you people are doing to it and still look beautiful.” — Frank Lloyd Wright

“San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality.” — Paul Kantner

“The Bay Area is so beautiful, I hesitate to preach about heaven while I’m here.” — Billy Graham

“That, my dear detective, was the other San Francisco. You’ve probably seen it before, just out of the corner of your eye. You’ve probably dismissed it all your life.” — Laura Oliva

“I was married once–in San Francisco. I haven’t seen her for many years. The great earthquake and fire in 1906 destroyed the marriage certificate. There’s no legal proof. Which proves that earthquakes aren’t all bad.” — W. C. Fields

“I think the beauty of San Francisco is that you can skip without really freaking anybody out.” — Chris Reifsteck

“As many of you know, I came from San Francisco. We don’t have a lot of farms there. Well, we do have one – it’s a mushroom farm, so you know what that means.” — Nancy Pelosi

“What I like best about San Francisco is San Francisco.” — Frank Lloyd Wright

“San Francisco is a mad city – inhabited for the most part by perfectly insane people.” — Rudyard Kipling

“You are fortunate to live here. If I were your President, I would levy a tax on you for living in San Francisco.” — Mikhail Gorbachev

Quotes About the Uniqueness of San Francisco

“California, more than any other part of the Union, is a country by itself, and San Francisco a capital.” — James Bryce

“If free speech and individuality are American characteristics, there is no place more American than San Francisco.” — Desi del Valle

“‘We are so lucky to live here,’ he would say, and she couldn’t disagree. They were lucky that the earth had conspired to heap up such startling beauty in one place, and they were lucky that it hadn’t all fallen apart yet in a geological catastrophe.” — Chris Adrien

“San Francisco is one of my favorite cities in the world…I would probably rank it at the top or near the top. It’s small but photogenic and has layers…You never have problems finding great angles that people have never done.” — Ang Lee

“Your city is remarkable not only for its beauty. It is also, of all the cities in the United States, the one whose name, the world over, conjures up the most visions and more than any other, incites one to dream.” — Georges Pompidou

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“God took the beauty of the Bay of Naples, the Valley of the Nile, the Swiss Alps, the Hudson River Valley, rolled them into one and made San Francisco Bay.” — Fiorello H. La Guardia

“I don’t know of any other city where you can walk through so many culturally diverse neighborhoods, and you’re never out of sight of the wild hills. Nature is very close here.” — Gary Snyder

“What fetched me instantly (and thousands of other newcomers with me) was the subtle but unmistakable sense of escape from the United States.” — H.L. Mencken

Quotes About San Francisco’s Friendliness

“I moved to San Francisco because the masquerade of kindly gestures is, at least, kind. And it remains kind. And all the people who would sit back and comment on the garishness of the costumes, the hollowness of the dialogue, the lack of divine conviction, well, all those people are either dead or fifteen years old.” — Jay Caspian King

“San Francisco is where you come when you want to see people looking like who they truly are.” — Mark Childress

“I love this city. If I am elected, I’ll move the White House to San Francisco. Everybody’s so friendly.” — Robert Kennedy

“We’re crazy about this city. First time we came here, we walked the streets all day, all over town and nobody hassled us. People smiled, friendly-like, and we knew we could live here. We’d like to keep our place in Greenwich Village and have an apartment here, God and the Immigration Service willing.” — John Lennon

“It’s simply a very romantic place. Just one look at any of those streets, and you couldn’t be anywhere else — it’s so beautiful, and there’s that location, and the sense of the free spirit. Who couldn’t become ravenous in such a place?”— Julia Child

“Like its namesake, San Francisco opens its arms to all sentient beings. The emotionally and spiritually wounded, in particular, have always come here looking for freedom and change, for a place to grow and be themselves.” — Jim Crotty

“San Francisco is one of the great cultural plateaus of the world – one of the really urbane communities in the United States – one of the truly cosmopolitan places and for many, many years, it always has had a warm welcome for human beings from all over the world” — Duke Ellington

“In all my travels I have never seen the hospitality of San Francisco equalled anywhere in the world.” — Conrad Hilton

Quotes About San Francisco Fog & Weather

 “I prefer a wet San Francisco to a dry Manhattan.” — Larry Geraldi

“The number of foggy days over the city is never reported, reportedly. But take it from me— there’s enough to satisfy everyone, and dissatisfy somebody.”— Herb Caen

“To a traveler paying his first visit, [San Francisco] has the interest of a new planet. It ignores the meteorological laws which govern the rest of the world.” — Fitz Hugh Ludlow

“I like the fog that creeps over the whole city every night about five, and the warm protective feeling it gives…and lights of San Francisco at night, the fog horn, the bay at dusk and the little flower stands where spring flowers appear before anywhere else in the country.” — Irene Dunne

“Suddenly [we] reached a height and saw stretched out ahead of us the fabulous white city of San Francisco on her eleven mystic hills with the blue Pacific and its advancing wall of potato-patch fog beyond, and smoke and goldenness in the late afternoon of time.” — Jack Kerouac

“Twenty-four years ago I was strangely handsome; in San Francisco in the rainy season I was often mistaken for fair weather.” — Mark Twain

“This city is a point upon a map of fog.” — Ambrose Bierce

“I never dreamed I’d like any city as well as London. San Francisco is exciting, moody, exhilarating. I even love the muted fogs.” — Julie Christie

“The morning, like all San Francisco mornings, promised spring. In California, the seasons come daily: spring, the dewy mornings draped lightly in gray mist; summer, when the sun burns through and rises directly overhead at midday; afternoon autumns, crisp breezy, when colors show off and the air smells clean into twilight; winter is the night.” — Elizabeth Stark

“The writer loves the fog as it pours in; he loves the sun when the fog pours out. The rest of California is Beach Boys country, but San Francisco has that moody thing going on, those blues notes wrapped in moisture, an atmosphere that tempers California dreaming and makes life more real.” — Eric Maisel

“San Francisco is a breathtakingly beautiful city, with lots of great contrasts between dark and light, often overlapping each other.” — Christopher Moore

Nostalgic San Francisco Quotes

“San Francisco is gone. Nothing remains of it but memories.” — Jack London

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“But I would rather be with you, somewhere in San Francisco on a back porch in July, just looking up to Heaven, at this crescent in the sky” — Robert Hunter

“San Francisco is an interesting place. It’s always been such a nice culturally diverse environment, which it still is, but there’s a lot of money there now and a lot of dot com’s so it’s a little different than it used to be.” — Les Claypool

Short San Francisco Quotes

“There is more grace per square foot in San Francisco than any place on earth.” — Fulton J. Sheen

“San Francisco is a world to explore. It is a place where the heart can go on a delightful adventure.” — William Saroyan

“The thing about San Francisco is that it has this kind of magical quality.” — Muddy Waters

“I have always been rather better treated in San Francisco than I actually deserved.” — Mark Twain

“[San Francisco] — The City that knows how.” — William Howard Taft

“[San Francisco is] the cool, grey city of love.” — George Sterling

“Two days in [San Francisco] is worth two months in New York.” — Robert Menzies

“San Francisco, city of dreaming spires.” — Eddie Izzard

“If you’re not alive, San Francisco will bring you to life.” — William Saroyan

“East is East, and West is San Francisco.” — O. Henry

“San Francisco is poetry. Even the hills rhyme.” — Patricia Montandon

“I’m just mad for San Francisco. It’s like London and Paris stacked on top of each other.” — Twiggy

“I don’t think San Francisco needs defending. I never meet anyone who doesn’t love the place, Americans or others.” — Doris Lessing

“But oh, San Francisco! It is and has everything – you wouldn’t think that such a place as San Francisco could exist.” — Dylan Thomas

“There are a thousand viewpoints in the viewtiful city.” — Herb Caen

“Every window in Alcatraz has a view of San Francisco.” — Susanna Kaysen

“There may not be a Heaven, but there is a San Francisco.”  — Ashleigh Brilliant

“San Francisco is perhaps the most European of all American cities” — Cecil Beaton

“[San Francisco] is the friendliest city in the world.” — Joe DiMaggio

Long San Francisco Quotes

“San Francisco put on a show for me. I saw her across the bay, from the great road that bypasses Sausalito and enters the Golden Gate Bridge. The afternoon sun painted her white and gold—rising on her hills like a noble city in a happy dream. A city on hills has it over flat-land places. New York makes its own hills with craning buildings, but this gold and white acropolis rising wave on wave against the blue of the Pacific sky was a stunning thing, a painted thing like a picture of a medieval Italian city which can never have existed.” — John Steinbeck

“Once I knew the City very well, spent my attic days there, while others were being a lost generation in Paris, I fledged in San Francisco, climbed its hills. slept in its parks, worked on its docks, marched and shouted in its revolts~ It had been to me in the days of my poverty and it did not resent my temporary solvency.” — John Steinbeck

“You wouldn’t think such a place as San Francisco could exist. The wonderful sunlight there, the hills, the great bridges, the Pacific at your shoes. Beautiful Chinatown. Every race in the world. The sardine fleets sailing out. The little cable-cars whizzing down The City hills. And all the people are open and friendly.” — Dylan Thomas

“Fancy a novel about Chicago or Buffalo, let us say, or Nashville, Tennessee! There are just three big cities in the United States that are ‘story cities’- New York, of course, New Orleans, and, best of the lot, San Francisco.” — Frank Norris

“In San Francisco, vulgarity, “bad taste,” ostentation are regarded as a kind of alien blight, an invasion or encroachment from outside. In Los Angeles, there is so much money and power connected with ostentation that is no longer ludicrous: it commands a kind of respect. For if the mighty behave like this, then quiet good taste means that you can’t afford the conspicuous expenditures, and you become a little ashamed of your modesty and propriety.” — Pauline Kael

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