Los Angeles vs. San Francisco

28 July 2015

San Francisco and Los Angeles may share the same state but the similarities end there. Despite year-round near perfect weather, endless coastal beaches to explore and some pretty hip neighborhoods, the two couldn't be more different. Here's a breakdown of what to expect whether visiting LA, SF or both. Which city suits your personality better? 


Talking about the weather isn't just small talk in California. In fact, it might be the deciding factor in where you live. Los Angeles weather is tough to top, especially with daily sunshine and heaps of nearby beaches. However, LA does have terrible pollutants floating through the air, much of which comes from automobile transmissions (More on that later!) On the flip side, San Francisco boasts the same fall-like weather all year long, albeit it does sometimes feel like the fog is following you day and night. So, do you prefer to be hot or cold?

Getting Around

If you have friends in LA, you've probably been at the receiving end of their traffic rants at least once. It's hard to blame them, though. When it comes to getting around, a car makes things a whole lot easier in Los Angeles but there is always traffic, hence the road rage! San Francisco does have decent public transportation including a bus system and the metro but it's as reliable as say, the transit in New York City. If you're in a rush and not ready to brave SF's hilly terrain, consider paying a few dollars more for UberPool or Lyft Line. You might even make a friend or two along the way!


We're fairly confident that LA trumps San Francisco in this category but not by much. Head to Santa Monica Beach for a leisurely bike ride or opt for funky Venice Beach, with its lively Ocean Front Walk, instead. To be honest, there's basically a beach for every type of traveler, so take your pick. San Francisco has several scenic options as well, like Baker Beach where you can see the Golden Gate Bridge or a hidden gem like Lands End. Remember to pack a sweater if visiting in the early mornings or evenings, as it can get chilly in northern California. If you're an avid swimmer, Los Angeles is your best bet, as the water is actually warm.


It's no shocker that San Francisco is a serious tech hub for both established and budding entrepreneurs. The city, in addition to several smaller towns that make up Silicon Valley, has become the number one destination for start-ups. Los Angeles, on the other hand, has more of an entertainment focus. Granted, there are exceptions to the rule but for the most part, LA is where the celebrities hang out and thus, the entertainment industry reigns supreme. Think of it this way: people in LA like to play the lead while San Francisco techies prefer working behind the scenes. Of course, there are plenty of jobs that require a bit of both.


This is another tough call and for good reason. While San Francisco's Chinese food scene totally beats the one in Los Angeles, LA has a slew of authentic Korean restaurants (try Road To Seoul or Genwa Korean BBQ). Both cities do Mexican food quite well, so it's a toss up as to which is better. Healthy fast food eaters (yes, it sort of exists) can rest easy knowing that there are In-N-Out Burger joints in both cities. San Francisco does have the benefit of nearby farms and many chefs take full advantage of farmer's markets and in-season produce when crafting their menus.

Weekend Getaways

As great as these two California cities are, sometimes you need an escape, right? If you're a wine enthusiast, you'll naturally gravitate toward Napa and Sonoma counties outside of San Francisco. It's an easy weekend getaway and a romantic one at that. Plus, accommodations range from spacious villas to cozy cottages. Los Angeles has picturesque options as well, like Santa Barbara, where visitors can choose their adventure, whether that is biking, kayaking or museum hopping. If you're living in LA, you most likely have access to a car, meaning that many day trips will be spur-of-the-moment decisions. For San Franciscans, however, consider renting Zipcar or carpooling with a group of friends.


By Megan Eileen McDonough of Bohemian Trails