Travel to San Francisco
Travel to San Francisco and you’ll discover a city that has its own unique personality and a laid-back, relaxed vibe (this is the birthplace of the 1960s hippie movement, after all).
San Francisco is also the home of 21st century innovation, with the thousands of high-tech businesses clustered around Silicon Valley to the south of the Bay area. Travel and discover a city that dances to its own beat, and welcomes visitors from all over the world.
A great way to pack in several attractions for a reduced cost during your trip to San Francisco is to buy a CityPASS. This gives you entry to the California Academy of Sciences, a Blue and Gold Fleet bay cruise, the Aquarium of the Bay or the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the Exploratorium or the Legion of Honor and the de Young Museum.
Alternatively, the Go San Francisco Card also provides access to a wide variety of attractions, including sightseeing and Bay tours, museums and even the Conservatory of Flowers. With the City PASS you can also enjoy unlimited transportation on trolley buses, streetcars, and Cable Cars.
One of the most iconic symbols of San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge, which can be particularly photogenic in the early morning Bay mist. The Golden Gate Park is home to many of the city’s attractions, but one particular attraction worth checking out is the incredibly beautiful Oriental Gardens, which are especially glorious in the spring. The San Francisco Bay is also home to Alcatraz Island, the former maximum security prison that is now open for tours.
Other popular tourist attractions include Fisherman’s Wharf, which is home to several museums and shopping areas and is right near popular Ghiradelli Square. Lombard Street, commonly found in movies, is another must-see as it is often referred to as the “world’s crookedest street.”
San Francisco is also popular for its popular counterculture history. No neighbourhood was more at the centre of this movement than Haight-Ashbury. Still popular among visitors and locals alike, stop by the area where you will find boutiques, record stores, and more.
A trip to San Francisco introduces you to a much more bohemian and laid back America. There’s nothing the locals love doing more than simply enjoying the sunshine in Golden Gate Park. But if you’re feeling a little more adventurous then head out of town and into Yosemite National Park to explore a slice of US wilderness.
During certain times of the year you can go out whale watching, as pods of blue whales travel past the Bay and on to their breeding grounds in the north. Alternatively, get airborne with helicopter rides over the Bay for a truly memorial experience. And of course, nobody can leave San Francisco without at least one ride on the cable cars!
Eating in San Francisco
Over the centuries many different nationalities have travelled to San Francisco and made it their home. The result is a culinary fusion of different flavours, and in particular Asian cuisine.
You have to get a burrito. There are a lot of options, so let us pick one for you: El Castillito. With cheese melted on the inside of the tortilla, it’s a paragon of the form. A thing of a beauty is a joy forever. Or until you finish eating it.
Need to go somewhere with a Bay view, at or near the Ferry Building? Want some classy oysters with rosé? Hog Island Oyster Bar – This is the only option. The Ferry Building alone is worth a trip to shop around and Hog Island is the best restaurant in there. Don’t sleep on the chowder.
Chinese food is a big influence throughout San Francisco, although whatever your preferences you’ll be well served, as there are more restaurants per capita in San Francisco than in any other US city. For just-caught fresh fish head down to Fisherman’s Warf, where you can watch the local fisherman land the daily catch and try some freshly made clam chowder, a local speciality.
Shopping in San Francisco
While there are plenty of Malls in San Francisco, the shopping experience here is much more eclectic. So if you’re travelling to San Francisco for some retail therapy, prepare to have your preconceptions of American retail challenged. There are far more ‘Mom and Pop’ stores in San Francisco, and if you want the most interesting trinkets and momentos then Fisherman’s Warf or Union Square are the places to check out.
There are also plenty of flea markets (particularly on Sundays) throughout the city where you’ll find a great selection of antiques and vintage clothes. For more upscale boutiques, head for Union Street, Hayes Street around Octavia, Fillmore Street around California street, and Chestnut Street in the Golden Gate area.
San Francisco is a very open and relaxed city, and you’ll receive a warm welcome from almost everyone you meet.
Remember that in the US tipping in restaurants is expected, and the normal tip is 20% of the total bill.
Get on the water
To enjoy a different view of the city, take a – to Jack London Square in Oakland, or to Tiburon or a Bay view ride – or even the ferry to Alcatraz. Check out 25 Fun Ferry Outings from the East Bay Ferry.
Whether you’re commuting to work or taking a weekend outing with family or friends, enjoy the comfort, convenience and stress-free experience of ferry travel. No bridge traffic or tolls. Just a scenic, calming ride to locations across the Bay while you enjoy a snack or beverage from our full service bar or just stretch out and take in the amazing bay views.