Someone has just booked their trip to the beloved San Fran. Now what? Before they make their to-do list of things they feel like their trip isn’t complete without, they might want to check out a few tips first. San Francisco is one of the trendiest and most hipster places to visit, no matter the time of year. And we’re sure they want to try and fit in as much as possible while taking in all things San Fran. The city has lots of things to explore, and we know they don’t want to miss a beat. Fortunately, we’ve provided quite a few tips (25 to be exact) that will help their trip be as smooth as possible.
Without this list, we might not know the proper beach attire, or what to expect from the weather. There’s also a rule of thumb of how many times we can inquire about the infamous Full House home and a few free spots we can enjoy and save some of our coins (because we can all appreciate saving as much as possible during vacation). Sidebar: readers keep going until they find out where to find one of the biggest Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom’s in the nation. So without further ado, take a look!
25 Be Super Casual
While we love a good heel, there are few places where you’ll see others rocking it in San Francisco. It’s definitely the city where the “less is more” phrase holds true to things like your wardrobe. What you’re most likely bound to see is a casual set of jeans and a button-up for a guy, even when he’s heading to work. So go ahead and pack that graphic tee and your favorite pair of distressed jeans. You’ll be right at home.
24 Whatever You Do, Don’t Call It “Frisco”
Don't say it, or your tourist will show. And well, we know you don’t want that. Trying to give the city a cool nickname is just not the thing to do, friends. We’re not sure where Frisco came from since the locals don’t say it. So it’s safe to say whoever made it up might have been a a tourist themselves (which isn’t a bad thing). However, there are a few acceptable nicknames that won’t give away your tourist status so easily; but the safest one to stick with is simply San Fran. You’re welcome.
23 Don’t Be Ashamed Of Having A Tour Guide
It’s not like using a map on your first day of school to help you navigate through campus. Using a tour guide can actually help enhance your San Francisco experience. And you won’t look as lame as you think doing it. You’ll save time and money with a pro on hand who can help you get to where you need to go. A tour guide will also come in handy if you’re not in the mood to be a wanderer without an itinerary or a schedule.
22 The Top Food Spots Include…
It’s no secret San Francisco is known as one of the best cities for foodies to visit. So we have to fill you in on some of the best eating spots in the area. A good idea could be visit a different restaurant for each meal, or at least each day you’re there. Some of the best are: House of Prime Rib, Cassava, Spruce, Hong Kong Lounge II, SPQR, Octavia, The Progress, and Nopalito. Let’s just say the city isn’t sleeping in the food category.
21 Don’t Be Thirsty To See The Full House Home
While we totally understand that San Francisco is basically synonymous with Full House, please do not keep asking about it. It’s not the best look for incoming tourists. We would venture to allow you one good time to inquire about the location and that’s it. Here’s a hint to help you out: the beautiful Victorian houses are called Painted Ladies and are near Alamo Square. If you can get that far, you won’t have to ask too many times about the exact location.
20 Go On A Hiking Adventure
Even though San Francisco isn’t known for its hiking trails, it’s definitely something you should consider trying during your trip. While it doesn’t tout the metropolitan and fast-pace scene like the actual city does, it certainly can serve as a nice break when you’re looking to calm down. Some of the most known trails include Land’s End and Mount Sutro’s Forest in the Clouds. Other notable spots are Golden Gate Park, Presidio, Academy of Sciences, and the de Young Museum. So grab your boots and get to hiking!
19 Here’s How To Pronounce Haight-Ashbury
Say it with us now! Unfortunately, Haight is pronounced as “hate” for the popular neighborhood. Maybe this is why it was dubbed the designated place of the Summer of Love back in the late 60s. Here’s another fun fact: Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane actually hail from Haight-Ashbury, which is another reason it doesn’t live up to the pronunciation of its name. It still has a pretty chill vibe these days and features quaint coffee shops and other fun activities.
18 Get Familiar With The BART Schedule
It’s super helpful to know the BART schedule before you use it because it could throw off your whole day. Waiting for a BART train can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, and we know you have places to be. Checking the BART schedule online is even more helpful when you’re traveling at night because the very last train of the day pulls off close to midnight. So if you were planning on BART being your driver after a night out, you might want to think of another escape route.
17 The Weather Is Nothing Like SoCal
It might not rain in Southern California, so don’t get it twisted. The weather in San Francisco is not like other areas in California like Los Angeles or San Diego. In fact, it’s pretty much the opposite. It gets super cold and rains a ton, even in the summer. While you might feel like you’re getting a little break when Mr. Sun decides to peek through, don’t get used to it because it could only last a few minutes. Not trying to be a Debbie Downer, just giving you the real deal.
16 Get Ready For Your Snaps To Be On Point
Yes, one of the best things about San Francisco is how photogenic it truly is! Don’t be afraid to take a few snaps as you inhale and exhale the beautiful scenery. If you want to get photos of sky-high parts of the city that will help you cover as much ground as possible, climb the Coit tower, or hike to the peak of Telegraph Hill. There’s also Dolores Park and Alamo Square. A couple of other options is the DeJong Museum and the top of Mark Hopkins Hotel. Say cheese!
15 There’s Something Eerie About Alcatraz
We can’t deny that Alcatraz is a must-see during your travels to San Francisco. But if you decide to visit after the sun goes down, be prepared. Or should we say beware, because it can get quite bizarre. From the empty cellblocks to the hospital portion that leaves visitors feeling a little unsettled, Alcatraz is definitely a must-see. The eerie music and quotes from inmates doesn’t help much, unless you’re looking for that kind of experience.
14 Wear Boots That Are Made For Walking
Fortunately, San Francisco is full of spots that allow you to take the scenic routes and enjoy the special beauty the city has to offer. Considering this, we want you to be prepared to do a ton of walking. After all, San Fran is pretty much recognized for its beautiful hills, so there’s no need to try to look like you’re walking the runway. Boots or tennis shoes are your best friend. And a water bottle could certainly serve as a close acquaintance.
13 See What’s Going On At The Fillmore
Going to a live concert in San Francisco will only up your amazing experience in the area. The Fillmore is pretty much the place to be when it comes to live shows. Greats like Jimi Hendrix, Prince, and Otis Redding have already graced the stage, so you know you’re in for a treat whatever night you decide to go. But it’s helpful to check out the website just so you have an idea of what’s coming up. The San Francisco Symphony is also worth checking out and the Beach Blanket Babylon never fails to put on a good show.
12 Proper Beach Attire Isn’t What You Think
A trip to California might be synonymous to frolicking on the beach in a bikini. But that doesn’t hold true in San Francisco. Instead, it’s quite the opposite. While the beaches in the city are amazingly beautiful, that’s really the only benefit they hold for you. It’s way too cold to attempt to take a dip. So consider bringing a pair of boots to walk around. Don’t worry, you won’t look as awkward as you might feel. They’ll actually help you enjoy your trip to the beach more than a pair of flip flops.
11 The Golden Gate Bridge Is More Than Tourist Site
It’s pretty much an institution. It’s been featured on countless television shows, films, and books. It’s more than a tourist site. You shouldn’t only see the bridge when you visit the city of San Francisco, you should also walk on it. The experience can be totally lifechanging since it features some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Feel free to take snaps and view much of the city from downtown to the bay area from one spot. It’s a good idea to get there before 9:30am because it can get pretty busy.
10 Indulge in the Free Spots
There’s nothing like experience greatness for Free 99. Thankfully, there are countless spots in San Francisco that allow you to have an amazing time without breaking out your wallet. You can visit freemuseums.org to see a list of museums that have a free entry day during your trip (it should be noted most of them host the free day on Sundays or Tuesdays). Other free adventures include walking the infamous Golden Gate Bridge, taking in the sun at Ocean Beach, and experiencing the Bay Bridge light up.
9 Don’t Miss Out On The Ferry Building Marketplace
Your trip to San Francisco isn’t complete unless you go to the Ferry Building Marketplace. Don’t worry about it being a spot crawling with other tourists because the city’s residents seem to love it just as much; especially the self-proclaimed and professional foodies. You can literally spend the whole day there and enjoy all three meals. It also features a farmer’s market near the pier on Saturdays (how picturesque is that?). Other notable areas include the Bay Bridge, Angel Island and Marin, and even the financial district. And it’s got some of the city’s best local cheese!
8 Patience Is A Virtue
…Because cable cars can literally feel like they take forever and a day. Taking a cable car can really get you into the vibe of living the life of a local in San Fran but be ready to wait for it. It doesn’t matter what side of town you’re going to; you can’t escape the cable car wait. Thankfully, it’s because they’re so popular, so there are tons of unique people you can meet along the way. Of course there are other options like a BART or Muni, but it won’t give you the cable car experience you’re looking forward to during your visit.
7 Pier 39 Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be
While Pier 39 might have been the major go-to on your list of things to do while visiting the city, you might want to put it toward the bottom. Let’s just say Pier 39 isn’t known as a hot spot in San Fran. Instead, it’s recognized as the place to get knick knacks like decorative items and memorabilia. But if you’re determined to go to the pier, you should only do it for the sea lions. They provide pure entertainment.
6 Tenderloin Isn’t Like What You’ve Heard
Okay, so we can admit that the Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco hasn’t had the best rap sheet over the years. It’s actually known as a less than safe area. But there’s much more to the area than that if you can be openminded. It actually touts some of the best authentic Vietnamese and Indian cuisine in the city. And if you’re ready to party, there are speakeasies, theaters, and jazz clubs. Plus, the shopping prices aren’t too shabby.
5 Don’t Sleep On The San Fran Museums
No, they aren’t the Met. But the museums in San Francisco shouldn’t be brushed off with a quickness. If you’re hoping to get into the inner depths of what the city truly has to offer, think about visiting some of its most prestigious museums and galleries. SFMOMA was just renovated recently so there’s lots of new fun things to enjoy there. The California Historical Society and The Legion of Honor and Asian Art Museum are big hitters too. If this is a family trip, The Exploratorium has all the young kids talking.
4 Fisherman’s Wharf Might Be Where It’s At
While Pier 37 isn’t a go-to spot, Fisherman’s Wharf is an arguable contender when it comes to a spot you should experience in San Francisco. One of the most popular areas in Fisherman’s Wharf is Scoma’s, located at Pier 40. It’s said to have the best seafood in the entire city. This is probably true considering how close it is to the docks. You can also visit Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory to fix your sweet tooth and Buena Vista Café to kick off your night or bring it to a close.
3 Explore These Neighborhoods...
While San Francisco is a pretty generously sized city, there’s a ton of ground you can cover without feeling overwhelmed. Plus, going to the city’s smaller neighborhoods is a great way to get a hold of the unique San Fran vibe. And of course they each have something different to offer. There’s Italian food in North Beach, Top of the Mark in Nob Hill’s nightlife, and Dolores Park in the Mission’s beautiful scenery. Side bar: If you’re looking to get in a good walk, you can visit Crissy Field in the Marina.
2 Don’t Spend Money On A Car Rental
Do not, and we repeat do not, get a car rental. You won’t need it! Not only will it stop you from taking in all of the beauty of the city, but it will also cost you money you could spend elsewhere. The public transportation system in San Francisco is one of the best in the nation, so wherever you need to go, there’s an alternative to it other than a car. There are also other options like Uber and a cab.
1 Shop Till You Drop In Union Square
No matter what city one is visiting, one of the most consistent things you’ll find on any travel itinerary is shopping, shopping, shopping! You might be the most successful in Union Square. It features department stores you’re used to seeing in your hometown (or a nearby metropolitan area) plus exclusive designers and local shops like Sutter, Stockton and Powell, Grant, and Post. Here’s something you might not have known: The Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre has the biggest Bloomingdale’s in the country, next to New York. And its Nordstrom is the second largest in the U.S. as well. Maybe we should’ve led with that one.
References: The Culture Trip, Johnny Jet, Trip Savvy, Grrrl Traveler, Thought Catalog, Thrillist, SF Travel