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San Francisco Travel Guide

About San Francisco

San Francisco has often been called "Everybody's favorite city," with good reason.

The 40-square miles of this coastal California city contain world famous icons like the Golden Gate Bridge, the former island prison Alcatraz, the original cable cars, charming Victorian houses, the Summer of Love's Haight Ashbury, the largest Chinatown in the United States, the LGBT-centric Castro and the many attractions of Fisherman's Wharf like PIER 39 and the new Madame Tussauds and the San Francisco Dungeon.

The city also contains charming neighborhoods that are lesser known. The Mission, Sunset, Richmond, Dogpatch, Fillmore, Hayes Valley, Marina, Cow Hollow, Bayview, Excelsior and other districts offer plenty to explore and enjoy.

San Francisco is rich in arts and culture. Museums include the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the deYoung, the Legion of Honor, the Asian Art Museum, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the Museum of the African Diaspora, the Exploratorium and the California Academy of Sciences. Other unique attractions include the Walt Disney Family Museum, the Museum of Craft and Design, the Wells Fargo History Museum and the San Francisco Railway Museum. The LGBT History Museum is one of only two in the world.

Performing arts include the San Francisco Symphony, Ballet and Opera companies, the American Conservatory Theatre, numerous dance companies including classical, contemporary, jazz and ethnic styles. "Beach Blanket Babylon," the world's longest running musical revue, updates its numbers so frequently that it's like a new show every time.

The culinary scene in San Francisco is also world famous with many Michelin stars and James Beard Foundation nods to be found. Top chefs create new cuisines with the region's bounty of fresh ingredients and cultural influences. Ethnic traditions are easy and affordable to sample with a wide variety of cuisines including regional American, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Burmese, Vietnamese, Indian, Italian, French, Spanish, Basque, Mexican, Peruvian, African and more.

The San Francisco lifestyle puts a high priority on being "green." All things local, sustainable, seasonal, recyclable and upcycled are prized.

San Francisco's famous fog is an attraction in itself. From June to August, the mornings and evenings can be cool. The warmest weather is in the spring and fall. Winters in San Francisco can be rainy but snow and ice are extremely rare.

San Francisco offers an excellent public transportation system. BART makes airport transfers quick and inexpensive. SFMTA, the municipal railway, operates cable cars, streetcars and buses that make the whole city accessible without the expense of renting or parking a car.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop flights to more than 31 international cities on 30 international carriers. San Francisco also welcomes a steady flow of cruise ships with itineraries beginning and ending in the city, or en route to Alaska, Hawaii and Mexico.

No matter how many times you visit San Francisco, each experience will be different, with new neighborhoods, attractions, tours and restaurants to discover. Yet the icons and the atmosphere remain the same. That's what San Francisco Travel means by "Never the same. Always San Francisco."

Information provided by: San Francisco Travel Association

San Francisco Experts

San Fran Day Trip

Erin Gleeson

A fun day trip from San Francisco is to head south about 45 minutes into the Santa Cruz Mountains. From SF, drive south down Skyline Boulevard and your first stop can be to visit a tree. But not just any tree- this one has a name, Methuselah, and she is 1800 years old! Walk around this massive redwood and be in absolute awe of it's grandeur. Find her on the east side of Skyline Blvd, just before the intersection of Hwy 84.

The next stop is breakfast at Alice's R...
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Food

Claire Fischer

With more restaurants per capita than any other city in the nation, San Francisco will blow your taste buds away. No matter what type of cuisine you are after, you will be able to find it. If you're looking for some breakfast options check out Dynamo Donut, Brendas Soulfood Kitchen, or Tartine Bakery. Dynamo Donut offers mind blowing donut flavors including Maple Glazed Bacon Apple, Lemon Sichuan, and Chocolate Rose. If you are lucky enough to be around for brunch on a Sunday ...
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Area Tips

Beth Perkins

"A 7x7 mile square, San Francisco is a small, walkable city with lots to see and do.

Weather: In San Francisco, if you don’t like the weather, you’re probably in the wrong neighborhood. The city has so many microclimates that there’s an app to navigate them all (sfclimates.com). Seasonal climate is a little different as well. Visitors coming to San Francisco in the summer expecting the California sun are often met with cool, foggy weather. In fact,...
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Area Tips

Allison Arruda

"With mild temperatures all year round, you’ll never have to battle unbearable summer heat or an arctic-like winter. A light jacket will get you through any San Francisco day. Luckily, there is ample public transportation here (BART, bus, cable car, etc) to get you just about anywhere. Cable cars are a San Francisco staple."

Food

Beth Perkins

"San Francisco boasts a wide variety of foods that appeal to foodies of all kinds. If you’re in the mood for Mexican food, head down to the Mission district. Check out Papalote on 24th and Mission for amazing salsa. The dim sum in Chinatown is delicious, and reasonably priced. For a fine dining experience, Gary Danko offers a 5-course tasting menu with wine pairing. If you’re craving seafood, head over to Fisherman’s Wharf. You can get crab from the sidewalk stand ...
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Family

Beth Perkins

"San Francisco is full of fun activities for kids and families. The Koret Playground in Golden Gate Park is a great place to spend the afternoon. Then check out the carousel, nearby. There are plenty of museums to interest your little ones. The Children’s Creativity Museum is an interactive art and technology museum. Kids can create a short film in the animation studio or perform their favorite song in the music studio. Interested in science? The Exploratorium offers hands...
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Adventure

Beth Perkins

"San Francisco has loads to offer outdoorsy or active types. Take the ferry to Angel Island for a day-hike or bike ride. Like rock climbing? Check out one of the many indoor gyms around the city. For the naturalist, the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, south on Highway 1, has a wide diversity of marine life including crabs, sponges and sea stars. During low tide, harbor seals haul out on the beach. For cyclists, there are plenty of places to rent bikes around town. The SF bicycle ...
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Attractions

Allison Arruda

"San Francisco is full of incredible things to do, like:

Alcatraz – A true step into history and a fascinating story about the deserted prison. It is amazing, but definitely book in advance because those ferries sell out!

Golden Gate Bridge – The longest bridge of its time, the Golden Gate is the most iconic symbol of San Francisco. A trip to San Francisco is not complete without a picture of you and the bridge.

Alamo Square Park’s Pai...
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Arts & Music

Beth Perkins

"If you’re interested in music, take in a show at The Fillmore or the Great American Music Hall. For an outdoor show, head over to Stern Grove in the Sunset district during the free concert series. Once a summer, the Opera House broadcasts a show in Giants Stadium. Spectators can take in the opera while enjoying ball park franks and garlic fries. Beach Blanket Babylon is a San Francisco classic and must see show – it’s the longest running (and most irreverent) musical ...
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Shopping

Allison Arruda

"Union Square is a haven for shopping enthusiasts in San Francisco. One of the largest shopping areas of the city, the square bodes several high end stores including Tiffany & Co, and Louis Vuitton, and is home to major department stores such as Macy's."

Neighborhoods

Allison Arruda

"No district in the states can compare to Chinatown of San Francisco. It’s not only the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, but also the oldest in North America. Be sure to taste the dumplings at one of the many restaurants along these streets; you won’t regret it!

History meets modern tourism at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco’s historic fishing district. Take a guided tour or simply walk down the boardwalk to view the sites for yourself. Don’t forget to...
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Nightlife

Allison Arruda

"While you’re in Union Square, definitely check out the Red Room at the Clift Hotel. This swanky bar in San Francisco, much like other Northwestern cities, is known for a good cup of joe. For the best cup of single drip brew coffee in the city, visit any local Blue Bottle Coffee. The wait is worth it for a true coffee connoisseur."

Area Tips

Christina Ouimette

“San Francisco is exactly what you see in the movies”, is the first thing that came out of my mouth when I entered the city. You literally drive around and go “Hill-Seeing”. The ENTIRE city is carved, constructed, and busily bumping away on hills after hills. Driving down you'll see the big city, inviting and lively. Traveling up the hills you feel like you're almost going to tip over. Houses and buildings are all at an angle, and, more often than not, they are pressed...
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Neighborhoods

Christina Ouimette

“Bernal Heights is a fabulous neighborhood in San Francisco. It's super close to everything like food markets, shops, and bars. Cortland street runs right through the middle. It's a pretty steep hill, and an electric bus route runs right through it! Some of the houses have small, yet intricate and beautiful back yards. You can still touch your neighbors house from the yard though. This street is special because there's a Community Garden located on it. People from all ends o...
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Nightlife

Christina Ouimette

“If you're looking to have a good time at a local bar, Wild Side West is where you want to go! It's located on Cortland Street, in Bernal Heights. When you walk in, there's a juke box to your left, and most likely someone at a microphone, hosting the event that is happening that night. To the right is a single pool table. There's a small bar, but behind the bar the wall is decorated from floor to ceiling with shelves of unique bottles, old piano benches, a mirror, an chalk b...
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Adventure

Christina Ouimette

“Two words, Mount Davidson. Gorgeous, heart stopping panoramic views. You can see everything - the interconnected, hilly neighborhoods, the tall buildings of the city, the coast and the ocean, the bridges. It is stunning and it's FREE!

Trolley rides are a MUST of you are visiting the city. They are a bit expensive, but the experience is worth it. You can stand or sit, and it's all mostly open. There's a small part that has windows. There's a benches in the front....
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