San Francisco Guide
San Francisco is, in a word, fabulous. From the old Victorian houses to the gleam of the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll find something new and wonderful at every stop. Here are twenty things that you simply can’t miss.
- Cross the Golden Gate Bridge. You have several options for your experience of San Francisco’s most famous landmark. You can drive across in a car, take a tour bus, walk (if you’re up for it!), or bike across the bridge. Some of the tour buses offer free bike rentals just for this purpose.
- Visit the Wharf. There’s a lot to see here! You can wander and watch the seals, or find the piano steps, or tour a museum. Good museums in the area are Madamme Tussaud’s Wax Museum (for the cultured), San Francisco Dungeon (for the history buff), or Ripley’s Believe It or Not (for the fun-lover).
- Explore the Murals in Clarion Alley for an intoxicating dose of psychedelic color and punk culture. Hundreds of artists have put thousands of hours into this massive street art project! When you’re done enjoying the walls, try a burrito in the Missions.
- Explore Sausalito across the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s the perfect place to see the San Francisco skyline, especially when the buildings glitter with light on a moonless night. https://www.instagram.com/p/BFVLGYKtPUL/?taken-by=karlaroundtheworld
- Feast in the Ferry Building while waiting for your ride to Sausalito. There are so many delicious places to try! While at it, try the Ferry Building Food Tour by Edible Excursions. ( Read here )
- Food Tours in San Francisco are something you can’t miss! Did you know that you could eat in a new restaurant every day and not repeat one for three years? Try the best of the best on a food tour to Little Italy, Edible Excursion’s Japan Town tour, and Edible Excursion’s Ferry Building Food Tour. This is a great way to learn about the neighborhoods in a different way.
- Visit the Science Museums. San Francisco has many science museums. My favorite was the Exploratorium, which has a ton of interesting interactive displays.
- Learn About Animals in California when you visit the California Science Academy and Monterrey Aquarium. It’s incredible to see all the sea life up close at the aquarium, and the lifelike terrain exhibits at California Science Academy are pretty darn awesome.
- Get a Fortune Cookie in China Town and explore one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods. You may forget that you’re in the Western hemisphere.
- Shop Haight-Ashbury for a taste of the rebel life. With its odd mesh of stiff Victorian infrastructure and casual hippie vibe, this place is definitely unique!
- Splurge at House of Prime Rib if you want to treat yourself to a tasty treat. I absolutely loved it!
- Cruise the Bay to get an overview of the city from the water. There are many companies that offer cruise tours, but I recommend using a CityPass. It’s so cool to see everything from a distance and cruise right under the Golden Gate Bridge!
- Tour on a Big Bus for an awesome trip around the whole city. Informative tours about the city are delivered by hilarious live guides. As far as bus tours go, this is the best!
- Go Hiking in the Presidio or Muir Woods. Even the most adamant city folks need some time away from the hustle and bustle now and then. And who knew such beautiful nature can be found co close to the asphalt and concrete of San Francisco? I couldn’t believe how gigantic the trees are!
- Visit Monterrey and Big Sur to get a look at the skilled surfers who take on insane waves. Maybe you’ll even want to try a surf lesson on at of the smaller breaks!
- Fall in Love with Yosemite and the glorious natural world you’ll find there. Imagine sitting on a ledge over green, pine-covered hills, watching a rainbow form over the reflection of the mountains in a glacial lake. Ahhh. You’ve found your happy place.
- Ride a Cable Car to experience the steep hills of San Francisco’s terrain. Exactly whose idea was it to build a city on these slopes?
- Ride the F Street Cars for a fun way to get around. Pick your favorite car color: red, blue, yellow or green? You can try them all!
- Cross the Bay Bridge at Night to get to Treasure Island and see the lighted city across the Bay. Breathtaking.
- Try Ghiradelli Hot Chocolate. I’m not sure if I was just freezing, or if this is the most freaking amazing hot chocolate in the world! In either case, it was delicious. It is Ghiradelli, after all.
How to Get Around San Francisco:
- Get a Clipper Card to make travel cheaper. It gives you a discount on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).
- Muni Passes are also very inexpensive. For $15 per day or $30 for a week, you can use any of the city buses to get around.
- CityPASS practically gives you money! Well, not really, but it saves you so much on museum admission and bus fare that you feel like you’re traveling for free. A CityPass is good for seven days of transportation and four free museum tickets.
- Big Bus Tours are great for people who won’t be in San Francisco for too long. It takes you all over the city and gives you an overview, to boot.
- Bikes are pretty standard in San Francisco. There are tons of places you can rent a bicycle.
- Cars, of course, are another option for transportation. Most tourists don’t choose to rent a car because of the parking costs and general lack of parking.
Facts about San Francisco
- It is cold! The breezes from the bay make the city colder than other surrounding areas. I loved the weather, though. Mostly, it is sunny with a little breeze.
- It is expensive. Taxes are high. California is one of the most expensive states to live in, and even recently overtook New York for cost of living.
- San Franciscans take pride in their good food and cocktail scene.
- There are murals and street art everywhere! I love it.
- It’s easy to get around on foot. I spent a whole day walking around Fisherman’s Wharf, the Aquatic Park, China Town, and North Beach. Gotta work off all that good food, you know? I loved being able to walk everywhere. Even though the hills gave me a leg workout, the street art kept me motivated.
- You can see the bridge countless times and still be amazed by it: sunrise, sunset, from behind, from the front, from below—it’s so iconic and so stunning.
- You will fall in love with San Francisco. Period.