Travel Bowl: Baltimore vs. San Francisco

You make the call! This year's travel showdown is between Baltimore or San Francisco. It's up to you to decide which city is the ultimate travel destination.

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: National Park Service

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Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Thinkstock

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Photo By: Jamie McCaffrey, flickr

Photo By: National Aquarium ©

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Stadium

Located on Russell Street, the M&T Bank Stadium is home to the Baltimore Ravens. The stadium’s capacity is large enough to hold 71,004 fans. And just in case you didn’t know, the Ravens head into the Super Bowl with 10 wins and 6 losses for the 2012 NFL regular season.

In comparison, San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, home to the 49ers, has a seating capacity of 69,843. After winning 11 games and losing 4 during the 2012 NFL regular season, the 49ers are now preparing for their big game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Military Site

Baltimore’s Fort McHenry is best known for successfully defending Baltimore Harbor against a British navy attack during the War of 1812. It was during the attack that Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the poem that would eventually become the US national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

In 1776, the Presidio started out as a military base, but it would close its doors as an active base in 1989 as part of a military reduction program. Now a public park, the Presidio has wooded hills and the best panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bridge and the Pacific Ocean.

Crab

In Baltimore, nothing beats delicious soft blue crabs, served up at dozens of local restaurants, including Schultz’s Crab House, Crab Shanty and Mariner’s Landing.

And in San Francisco, who can deny the incredibly fresh taste of Dungeness crabs at Anchor Oyster Bar, Crazy Crab’z, Sotto Mare and other local restaurants.

Waterfront

Both cities have great harbors. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is the site of the National Aquarium, Sports Legends at Camden Yards and, just a few blocks away, Port Discovery Children’s Museum. Shop until you drop at Harborplace and the Gallery, and end your shopping spree with a casual walk along the picturesque waterfront.

In San Francisco, Fisherman’s Wharf is home to dozens of restaurants, bars and shops sure to keep any tourist busy. A variety of boat charters and bay cruises begin at the wharf, including boat tours to Alcatraz Island. The Aquarium of the Bay, Ghirardelli Square, Pier 39 and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum are just a few tourist attractions located nearby, and we’d be remiss to not mention the crowds that stand around to watch the street performers and sunbathing sea lions.

Art Museum

Located in Baltimore’s Federal Hill neighborhood, the American Visionary Art Museum showcases original works of art created by self-taught artists. The museum comprises 3 renovated historic industrial buildings and sculpture gardens; all create the “un-museumy” atmosphere to display works by visionary artists, including Ho Baron, Nek Chand, Ted Gordon and Leo Sewell.

Founded in 1935, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art was the first museum on the West Coast devoted to modern and contemporary art. From modern masters to younger, less established artists, more than 27,000 works of art are on display. Visitors can take a self-guided tour, as well as watch video screenings, view interactive kiosks or participate in public programs to learn more about modern art.

Most Popular Attraction

The National Aquarium is the most popular tourist destination in Baltimore. In 2003, aquariums in Baltimore and Washington DC, joined forces to become one National Aquarium; today, the facility showcases living collections of more than 16,000 animals, from more than 660 species of fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals, all living in a makeshift natural habitat.

In San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge is the most popular tourist attraction in the City by the Bay. The famous bridge was named after the Golden Gate Strait -- the entrance to San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. As of May 2012, almost 2 million vehicles had crossed the Golden Gate Bridge since opening to traffic on May 28, 1937.

Historic Neighborhood

Welcome to Fell’s Point, a Baltimore neighborhood and historic district once populated by a large number of Polish and Irish immigrants. The waterfront community is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, coffee bars, music stores and the highest concentration of pubs in the city -- more than 120.

The American Planning Association has named San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood one of 10 “Great Neighborhoods in America.” Also known as Little Italy, the area has historically been home to a large Italian-American population. It was also the historic center of the 1950s beatnik literary movement. Today the neighborhood is populated by young professionals, families and Chinese immigrants.

Light Rail

One option for getting around Baltimore is the city’s light-rail system; it has a few main routes, including one that runs from Penn Station to Camden Yards.

Out on the West Coast, the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), is one of America’s oldest public transit agencies. Today it carries over 200 million customers per year. Unlike Baltimore’s limited light-rail service, the Muni runs 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Familiar Sign

It really isn’t a competition, but we thought we’d throw in a couple famous signs that most people will be familiar with after visiting the 2 Super Bowl cities. Like this, for example: Take a quick glance at Baltimore’s skyline and you’ll notice the Domino Sugars sign atop the company’s plant.

Although it doesn’t light up San Fran’s skyline, the famous Castro sign does light up the neighborhood. The Castro was one of America’s first and largest gay neighborhoods.

Best Food

In comparing neighborhoods, Baltimore’s Little Italy is known for its authentic Italian food served at more than 30 restaurants, nestled between the Inner Harbor and historic Fell’s Point neighborhood.

We could compare Baltimore’s Little Italy to San Francisco’s Little Italy, but we decided to go in a different direction. We opted instead to highlight San Fran’s Chinatown, where authentic Chinese food is served at restaurants like Golden Gate Bakery, Hunan Home’s Restaurant and Wing Sing.

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