Known for: tech culture, international food, awesome hikes, cable cars + giant hill after giant hill, views, insta-worthy places, deep-rooted historical attractions
Scroll to the bottom for a map view of all of these points of interest
Where to Stay
The Mission District is a great place to stay because of safety, variety of food/bars, and closeness to everything. We used AirBnB during our stay – their HQ is there after all, so you know the market is good. You may get sticker shock from the rental real estate, so it’s easier to grab some friends you’re really comfortable with and get real cozy in a 1 bedroom. Plus, The Mission is known for brunch, so you’ll be a stumble away from your first stop of your weekend morning 😉
I also stayed at HI San Francisco Hostel in Downtown. I highly recommend this place if you want to save some moolah! You can’t beat the location or cleanliness and it is safe. Yes, you’ll see homeless people on the streets, but it’s well lit with lots of other tourists milling around.
How to Get Around
Everything is fairly close in the city, so when weather allows it, biking is the best way to see everything. Uber and Lyft are fairly cheap, but with how many things on the To See list, the expenses can add up. With all the hills – I’m talking ones that require some strong glutes, walking can be quite the workout. The BART is a solid way of getting across the city, see the schedule here: https://www.bart.gov/schedules/bystation. The number one form of transportation you must use to get around is a cable car. They’re unique to SF and can even be a little thrilling because you can stand on the edges. Trips are $7 a ride and span from the North of the Bay area to downtown.
The first topic I have to talk about is food. Everything was just too good to forget. I was only there for 4 days and my stomach can only handle so much food, so this is what I have to offer:
Clam Chowder in a bread bowl @ Fisherman’s Wharf, specifically the seafood stalls
Dim Sum @ Chinatown. Some of the tastiest Dim Sum outside of Hong Kong.
Indian food @ NeWa, in the Tenderloin District (eat it family style with naan, you won’t regret it)
Mexican Tacos/Burritos @ Tacqueria El Farolito in The Mission District, BEST. BURRITO. EVER. at a great price. There are tons of other tacquerias in the area to indulge on the goodness that is Mexican food, but this one is famous for a reason.
Brunch of the drunk variety @ The Mission District, there are so many good places, I can’t recommend just one
Homemade pasta and sauce @ Italian Homemade Company in Little Italy. Who knew simple pasta and meat sauce could taste that amazing?
Boba tea @ Boba Guys in the Mission District, they have awesome unique flavors and perfectly cooked boba.
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse @ Tenderloin, the insta-famous “Get Baked in San Francisco” Bakery
Everyone should visit Alcatraz at one point. The stories are haunting and the ambiance is chilling. If you can, snag a night time tour, when the ambiance is straight up cold. These tours sell out sometimes months in advance, so book ahead!
A set of pipes made to turn crashing waves into music. Best at high tide, otherwise it’s just gurgling sounds. Still a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge though.
Food, Ghiradelli’s Square, street performers, and sunbathing sea otters. This is a great starting point to pick up a bike and bike across the Golden Gate Bridge – which I highly recommend! What’s not to love?
Here’s a sea otter that thinks he owns this yacht:
Lombard St. and Painted Ladies
Total insta-worthy spots
Great views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Where the hidden Kirby Cove swing on the beach is located. I never made it 😥 but if you have, please share photos!
Japanese Tea Garden
A slice of Japan in the Golden Gate Park. Worth a quick visit to see the super steep bridge over the stream.
16th Ave Steps
View and art. Get dropped off at the top of the stairs. There are another set of stairs going up to a viewpoint (the photo on the right).
A fun, grassy hill for relaxing, picnicking, and being a cool kid. Located in Mission District.
Great view of SF skyline. Probably the best view at night compared to other lookouts.
If you have time, Yosemite is 3 hours away and totally worth the trip. For a closer trip, with similar awe, you can check the Redwoods Regional Park near Oakland.
and p.s. don’t call San Francisco, San Fran or any cutesy shortening. If you must shorten it, use SF or the City. The people of San Francisco thank you.