As the midwest and northeast shiver under grey skies and layers of sleet, San Francisco offers a break. March is still officially rainy season in the Bay Area, but it will just as likely be sunny, clear and warm. In either case, the temperate climate allows for undiminished opportunities for playing tourist.

The Orchard Hotel is one block above Union Square, two blocks from the Chinatown Gate and a nice walk (or short ride) from the historic Ferry Building and Embarcadero Center.

Many of downtown San Francisco's visitor attractions are famous, from the restaurants and bookstores of North Beach and the dizzying drive down Lombard Street to the wax museum, fresh seafood and cable cars at Fisherman's Wharf.

Here are a few lesser-known San Francisco destinations:

It's a perfect time of year to visit the wine country, about one-and-a-half hours from downtown San Francisco. And just a BART-ride away is the East Bay (including Oakland and Berkeley), with plenty to see and do: