San Francisco Travel Tips – A Bucketlist Item That Has To Be Crossed Off
San Francisco Travel Tips – A Bucketlist Item That Has To Be Crossed Off
San Francisco Travel Tips. An article sharing travel tips about visiting San Francisco. How to get there and more…
Mark Ford Founder of Plus 1 Travel
Hi there, I’m Mark Ford and I generously welcome you to this article about San Francisco travel tips. Let’s look into one of the most iconic cities in the world and one of those bucket list items that just has to be crossed off. Home to one of the most famous bridges in the world, the city by the bay effortlessly blends its rich and diverse history with its status as the home of some of the biggest companies in the world.
Nestled on the pacific coast, San Francisco is one of the breathtakingly beautiful cities. The San Francisco Bay Area offers so many experiences that you’ll have to visit twice to be able to see them all.
How to get from the airport to San Francisco
The San Francisco Bay Area is served by three major airports: San Francisco International (SFO), Oakland and San Jose. To get into San Francisco itself, SFO is by far your best bet. So that’s the airport we’re going to focus on here.
Public Transport in San Francisco
SFO is a solid airport. Occasionally plagued by weather delays it is a functional and efficient airport with some great amenities. The airport actually hosts a museum with a number of rotating exhibits from some of the cities top museums.
There’s also a fantastic aviation museum, with a recreation of the original passenger terminal at SFO from the 1930’s. So if you’re early to the flight – you will have plenty to do to kill the time!
So once you’ve landed at SFO, what’s the cheapest, fastest and best way to get to San Francisco?
Cheapest: The bus. SamTrans buses to San Francisco leave directly from the terminals and costs just $2 to get you into the city.
Fastest: Uber, Lyft or a Taxi. Outside of rush hour, a taxi is the fastest way to get to San Francisco from the airport. Lyft or a Taxi will cost around $30-40 and take around 25 minutes. Uber has a fixed fee of $65. Remember that taxi drivers will expect a tip of 10% on top of your fare.
Best: It may not be the fastest or the cheapest, as it takes around 45 minutes and costs $9. But the Bart Train is the right way to balance speed vs cost. The airport Bart station is located in the international terminal and is well sign posted throughout the airport.
How to get around San Francisco
When searching for San Francisco travel tips, you’ll quickly realize that it is a beautiful city. So you may be tempted to think you’re an experienced and strapping outdoorsman, and say to yourself: ‘I will conquer this city on foot’. That’s great… But here’s a word of warning. San Francisco is not always a walkable city.
Here’s why. Some of San Francisco’s streets are very steep. So what looks easy on Google Maps might in reality turn out to be a pretty harsh workout session.
So other than walking / climbing, how else do you get around San Francisco?
The public transport system can be described as comprehensive but eclectic. It’s a mish mash of trains, subways, buses, taxis, ferries and light railway. And it’s actually one of the few things that locals complain about, it’s a bit complicated but it will get you from point A to point B quickly, safely and cheaply.
Beautiful San Francisco
Bart’s or Bay Area Rapid Transit is San Francisco’s aging but functional commuter rail and subway service. It has a single line through San Francisco with multiple stops from the airport to the financial district and then onto other parts of the Bay Area.
Fares vary depending on how far you’re travelling and start at $1.85 for a one stop journey. A fun little fact about Bart is that the announcements are made by the evil robot villain from every 80’s sci-fi movie.
Muni is San Francisco’s light rail and subway system. It connects the southern and western neighborhoods of the city with downtown, where you can transfer to Bart or Cal train, which can take you to other parts of the Bay Area. 90 minutes to travel on Muni costs $2.25.
If you’re planning on using Bart, Muni or Caltrain it’s worth getting a clipper card. The cities stored value systems.
San Francisco is home to both Uber and Lyft, so it’s very easy to get around. You also have Uber Pool, in which you share the ride with someone going in the same direction as you and it’s a great way to split the cost.
Where to stay in San Francisco
San Francisco is a huge city and it’s not always easy to know where to stay and where not to. There are some sketchy places that you definitely want to avoid like Tenderloin, Hunter’s Point and Bayview. If you go to stay at Haight-Ashbury, Hayes Valley, Marina, The Castro or North Beach you are safe and it will be a really enjoyable trip.
Downtown San Francisco
3-star hotels start at $140 per night and 4-star $240 per night. AirBnb starts around $60 per night but expect at least $100 per night in a good area.
Where to Get the Best Food in San Francisco
When looking into the history of the city and looking into San Francisco travel tips, it’s easy to find that it was built upon multiculturalism. An almost perfect blend of influence from Asia, Europe and Central America. This has created one of the strongest food cultures in the world. Not to mention the fact that California produces nearly 80% of Americas food. So you’re almost always getting local or nearly local ingredients. So if you’re hungry this is the place to be.
With an almost endless choice of amazing food – where should you start?
Mexican Food in San Francisco
Pal’s Take Away at 2751 24th Street. A sandwich shop that is located at the back of a liquor store! You’re either gonna love it or hate it. The man who runs this shop creates sandwiches with ingredients that you’d never think go together but the cool part is that he actually pulls it off and it ends up really great.
You can’t visit San Francisco without having a burrito. At La Palma you’ll get a huge lunch burrito that will satisfy your tastebuds and keep you going all the way to dinner.
If you’re not familiar with a burrito it’s a flour wrap filled with meat, cheese, rice, vegetables – about the size of a baby. So what filling should you get in your burrito? Avocado and hot salsa. You can never go wrong with that!
The West Coast is also the home to a burger so good that people travel from all over the world. Fans of In-and-out burger includes Gordon Ramsey and the late Anthony Bourdain. And it’s easy to see why. It’s simplicity and taste will leave you closer to heaven than you can imagine.
Drinks In San Francisco
When in San Francisco you need to check out the beer culture. At the City Beer store you’ll get an abundance of great beer options and it’s considered to be one of the
best beer places in San Francisco and arguably North California. One of the coolest breweries in the Bay Area is called the Rare Barrel and they’re taking other breweries beers and then giving them a really unique touch by making them sour. It’s something really unusual and you either love it or hate it.
If you have one beer to pick in San Francisco that represents the city it’s the Lagunitas IPA. It’s brewed in Petaluma, California and is a really nice IPA.
Top 10 Best Things to Experience When Visiting San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
First up no list of San Francisco stops is complete without talking about the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s one of the most iconic parts of San Francisco and it’s just as impressive to see in person. You can walk on the bridge, photograph it from one of the many viewpoints or take it in from the great spot at Battery Spencer. Going here at sunrise is an incredible experience.
Alcatraz is a huge tourist attraction in San Francisco and one of the most well known jails in the entire world. This island housed many notorious criminals, but is now a national park that is open to the public.
You can take the boat ride over to the island multiple times a day and then you can explore it as slow or as fast as you want on the self guided audio tour. Expect it to take at least half a day because there’s so much to see and experience on the island.
Claiming to be one of the most crooked streets in the world, Lombard Street is a tourist attraction that features 8 hairpin turns that cars can drive down. While there’s not much to do here other than to walk up the and down the street. It’s still fun to see and even more fun if you can drive down. And the view from the top is amazing.
Rincon Park is home to one of San Francisco’s most well known art pieces, Cupid Span. A large bow and arrow. While there’s not that much to do at the park, it’s a great spot for sunrise to see the sun go up behind the Bay bridge. Plus taking some photos of the massive bow and arrow is worth the stop in itself.
Coit Tower is over 200 feet tall and it was built in 1933. The interior features beautiful paintings on the walls and you can take an elevator up to the top of the tower.
Cable Cars In San Francisco
A ride on the Cable cars in San Francisco is something you just can’t miss. They are an iconic part of the city and and a lot of fun to ride. You may have to wait a while since they are a very popular tourist attraction but it’s worth it. I recommend getting an outside spot as you watch the cars pass by you, if you dare. Don’t forget to visit the Cable Car Museum as well.
Palace of Fine Arts
Built in 1915 the Palace of Fine Arts is something you have to experience for yourself. It’s a beautiful structure and a lot of fun to walk around with the central rotunda being the most awe inspiring. Photograph the spot right while the light is fading and get incredible pictures.
This place is one of the most popular tourist spots near the water. It’s a great place to check out with the old buildings and the famous sign, plus it has awesome ice cream. Just walking into the shop gets you a free piece of chocolate even if you don’t buy anything. And be sure to check out the area in the back where they show you how their chocolate is made.
China Town is the largest outside of Asia and the oldest in North America. It was established in 1848 and it’s a great spot to walk around and explore. I recommend spending some time in the shops, visiting a few of the restaurants and going to the fortune cookie factory. Also be sure to see Dragon’s Gate on the way out of China Town.
With over 200 years of history, the Presidio is one of those places that you could easily spend weeks exploring. This old military base was transferred to the national park service in the 1990’s and it features many old structures, hiking trips and beautiful views.
During the summer the park has picnics on the weekends which brings hundreds of people to the main square. Take a walk around and soak in the many art pieces around the park.