A Local's Guide to San Francisco

The city is clean and beautiful, people are friendly and it’s full of fun things to do. A trip to San Francisco would be a great vacation for families and friends alike. San Francisco is also a great spot for foodies, with plenty of amazing restaurants and cafes. There are many fun things to do in San Francisco for cheap, including a self-guided walking tour of the city.San Francisco is home to many museums and monuments, but it’s also an amazing place to simply walk around and enjoy the sights.



I’ve broken down this guide into the following sections:


1. Getting Around

2. Museums and Historical Sights

3.Restaurants and FoodTours

4. Shopping

5. A Walking Tour of the City

So, let’s get started!


1)- Getting Around


San Francisco has one of the best public transportation systems in the US! The buses are mostly clean, efficient and cheap with a single ride costing $2 (but it can be used on all forms of public transit!). If you don’t have a Clipper Card (an electronic card that is used for all forms of Bay Area transit) I would just buy cash or ticket at one of the many machines located around town – they are extremely easy to use! You can also use Google or Apple Pay. BART is San Francisco’s subway system and makes getting around even easier!





You can get an individual day pass or pay as you go using your Clipper Card at BART stations across town; but again if you don’t have it there are plenty of ticket machines where you can just purchase tickets as wellThe MUNI bus system is also useful for getting around town but requires more patience than BART does since buses come often enough but not always exactly when they say they will!


The only downside about using public transit in SF is that it isn’t necessarily convenient for seeing everything… so if there was one thing I would suggest doing while in San Fran it would be renting a car.


Paid parking lots abound in downtown SF so taking advantage saves time because finding street parking can take forever!

2)- Museums & Historical Sights


The Museum of Modern Art – Located near Golden Gate Park (about 10 min drive), this large museum has an extensive collection spanning from mid-19th century modern art works up till today including pieces by Van Gogh, Matisse, and Picasso





California Academy Of Sciences – Located near Fisherman’s Wharf (about 15 min drive), this aquarium offers exhibits on animals from every continent — except Antarctica—and its green roof lets visitors walk among native plants alongside their animal counterparts.





Japanese Tea Garden – Located near Ghirardelli Square (about 5 min walk), this tranquil garden features beautiful bonsai trees, 400 koi ponds filled with colorful carp fish and much more.





Ghirardelli Square – Located right next door to the Japanese Tea Garden, this tiny square features a number of stores and restaurants to shop in/eat at/drink at (try the hot fudge sundae!)




Walt Disney Family Museum – Located near Fisherman’s Wharf, this museum features memorabilia from Walt’s life and offers a fun way to spend an afternoon





San Francisco Maritime Museum – Located near Fisherman’s Wharf, this museum features over 40 historic ships, boats, aircraft and other maritime artifacts! It also has a small aquarium with sea creatures that inhabit


San Francisco BayTIP: If you want to do all these museums in one day then buy the CityPASS for $80 which gives you access to four museums and a hop-on-hop-off bus tour for two days!.

3)-Restaurants & Food Tours


Napa Valley Wine Tasting Tour – Visit three wineries located in Napa Valley, tasting wine at each while learning about the vineyard process. The tour lasts 4 hours costs ~$150 per person





Bay Area Food Tours – Take a food tour through Chinatown or Little Italy where you can try everything from noodles to gelato! These tours cost around $50-$60/person depending on length.





The Blue Bottle Coffee Tour– This is my favorite thing to do in SF! You get to see how Blue Bottle makes their coffee, then taste 6 different coffees before ending with hot chocolate made using liquid nitrogen! It costs $30 per person but they usually run discount codes on Groupon!




4)- Shopping


Chinatown Street Market – Head to Chinatown for an afternoon of shopping where you can find everything from knock-off handbags to delicious dumplings and anything in between!





Union Square Shopping – One of the most popular areas in town, Union Square is full of high-end boutiques and department stores like Barney’s and Nordstrom. It also features many restaurants, cafes and bars that are perfect for people watching after a day of shopping!





5)- A Walking Tour of the City


This walking tour takes you through downtown San Francisco starting at the Visitor Information Center near Union Square. From there it heads up Nob Hill passing by Grace Cathedral before reaching Chinatown on Grant Avenue. Then it heads into North Beach passing by famous Jack Kerouac Alley before arriving at Coit Tower atop Telegraph Hill. From there we head back down Lombard Street before finishing up near Ghirardelli Square. San Francisco offers two different tours (walk + trolley) that provide guests with an informative look into its history.


The City Sightseeing San Francisco Trolley Tour – This 1 hour tour costs $35 per person but lasts 3 hours and includes narration as well as stops along Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Park and more


The Gray Line Guided History Walk – These 2 hour guided walks cost ~$45 per person but provide information about some important aspects in San Francisco history including Chinatown, Lombard Street (the most crooked street in the world), Sutro Baths (a huge saltwater swimming pool)

I hope this guide was useful for anyone visiting San Francisco! As I mentioned at the beginning, there is so much to see and do here that it really is impossible to cover everything in one blog post. It’s a great city so spend as much time as you can while you’re here! If you have any questions about my trip or San Francisco then leave them in the comments section below!


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