September 2018 update:  The Elan Collection is no longer selling fractional homes.    Investors looking for equity sharing of over 70 vacation homes, see Equity Estates.

When you think about vacation, visions of lounging around on white sand beaches usually come to mind, rather than enjoying downtown musicals on Saturday night. But not everyone wants to escape from the city. Au contraire. Plenty of affluent travelers want to escape to the city.

Fortunately for those who want their own California pied-à-terre, they can choose between two luxury fractionals in San Francisco and San Diego from The Élan Collection. These cities might “live” at opposite poles of the Golden State, but both offer their own version of the metropolitan high life: San Francisco, with its edgy cool, cultural eclecticism and classic city history; and San Diego, with its warmer temperatures and laid-back city-by-the-sea vibe. What’s your city style? It depends on what’s on your vacation “To Do” list when you swing into town.

1) Explore

San Francisco: Art aficionados will be in heaven with the deYoung Museum, Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Asian Art Museum, and the Palace of Fine Arts, plus an array of boutique galleries at their fingertips. Afternoons can be spent picnicking at Golden Gate Park or the Exploratorium… but make sure to save room for fresh clam chowder and sourdough at Fisherman’s Wharf.

San Diego: A San Diego vacation wouldn’t be complete without putting in some beach time at Shelter Island or Coronado Island. There’s also the Embarcadero, a two-mile stretch of downtown waterfront that hosts the Maritime Museum of San Diego, cruise ships, boats and a lovely Seaport Village with shopping and dining. And whatever you do, don’t forget the 15 museums at Balboa Park, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, Sea World and baseball games at PETCO Park.


2) Sight Sea

San Francisco: It’s one thing to see the city by land — and quite another to see it by sea. Catch a ferry to the charming seacoast villages of Tiburon or Sausalito. In Tiburon, a classic Main Street offers antique and specialty shops, open-air restaurants and gorgeous views of San Francisco. In Sausalito, you’ll be more likely to wander the hidden stairways, tour the houseboats and marinas, then grab lunch at one of the cozy street side cafes. In the afternoon, cruise the waterways by kayak or sailboat.

San Diego: Take full advantage of San Diego’s waterfront location with a 15-minute ferry ride across the bay to quiet Coronado Island, where you’ll find more than 30 shops, restaurants, art galleries and sweeping views of downtown. And if you’ve got the energy, observe the city by sailboat, power boat or wave runner.

3) Wine and Dine

San Francisco: From tried-and-true establishments like Cliffhouse and Tadich Grill to hot spots like Fleur de Lys in Nob Hill and Café des Amis in trendy Cow Hollow, San Francisco has a restaurant for every kind of palate. Says real estate agent Damion Matthews of Café des Amis: “It opened in July to much fanfare and has been packed every day since. With its outdoor seating, elegant interior and delicious menu, it has everything you want in a fun but sophisticated San Francisco setting.”

San Diego: Nobu might be the sushi spot for New Yorkers, but San Diego has its own Nobu at the hip Hard Rock Hotel. For the best selection of oysters and crab cakes in the city, you’ll want to try The Oceanaire Seafood Room on J Street. You’ll also have your choice of steakhouses nearby—Morton’s, Flemings, Ruth’s Chris, Donovan’s and Palm Restaurant.

4) Night on the Town

San Francisco: No need to go to Broadway to see “Wicked” or “Dreamgirls”… just take a limo ride to the Orpheum Theater. For drinks, saunter up to The Ritz perched on Nob Hill, the original hangout of the Big Four. Or why not take your amore to dinner-and-a-movie, San Francisco style? It will be an elegant, white cloth affair at Foreign Cinema in the Mission District. (Just don’t forget to take your jacket.)

San Diego: You won’t run out of new places to try in the eclectic Gaslamp Quarter with its more than 100 restaurants and 40 nightclubs and bars. There’s also the San Diego Symphony’s Summer Pops Concert Series and the Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park, where you can catch a performance of “King Lear” under the stars. For great cocktails and equally great views, stop by the Ivy Rooftop at Andaz San Diego.


5) Shop Stop

San Francisco: It is a rare city, indeed, where you can find a Chanel, Hermes, Gucci, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and the West Coast’s largest Macy’s all within a 1-mile radius. But what about a shopping experience you can only find in San Francisco? Matthews recommends popping into Wilkes Bashford on Sutter Street. “A San Francisco retail institution since the 1960s, the specialty store has recently been revamped by new owners who have brought in some special pieces by Valentino, Michael Kors and Kiton,” he says.

San Diego: You won’t find Chanel here, but you will find 130 stores at Westfield Horton Plaza as well as boutique shopping in the Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy. Check out Maeve Riley in South Park for J Brand jeans or Igloo on Beech Street for silk-screened prints and art books.

Whether your city style is north or south, San Diego and San Francisco serve up a metropolitan vacation that’s golden.