San Francisco in California state of USA, is a brilliant place to explore. I had opportunity to visit this part of the world during few official trips. Every time I tried to explore various places around San Francisco with limited budget. And this post is intended to share some of the hand-picked options for you. Post also talks about must do Francisco things.
Some of the main San Francisco Attractions include Union Square San Francisco, Chinatown San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, Bay of Aquarium, Alcatraz , Ferry Building, Golden Gate Park, Palace of Fine Arts, California Academy of Science, The De Yong Museum, Cable Car Museum, Exploritarium, San Francisco Zoo etc. Although it would be hard to share details about all interesting places around San Francisco, but we shall try to share that in this post.
Downtown San Francisco has some of the most interesting walks in California. This post will has quick details about places but you can always check detailed information by clicking mentioned links in this post. San Francisco has some interesting churches and one can find them during walks around the town.
Ferries are available at Pier39 and other Piers on same road. Ferries are available for Sausalito, Alcatraz, Angel Island, Alameda & Aukland, Tiburon and Larkspur.
Walking around the streets of San Francisco is best way to explore the downtown. And places like Ferry Building, Pier-39, Aquarium of Bay, Union Square and China Town are in same region. On my first day in San Francisco, I walked from Union Square to Pier-39 via China Town and then headed back through Ferry Building. Ferry for Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz is available from Pier-39. If you love biking, you can hire a bike and go towards Golden Gate Bridge from Pier-39.
There is a place near Pier39 where you can find lot of seals. Around the same place, there are shops from where you can buy souvenirs. There is definitely a scope of bargaining, if you want to buy in bulk :).
Above photograph shows China Town, where you can find various things at comparatively lower cost. As tourist, you should avoid buying expensive electronic stuff from this market. Overall quality of cloths is not that great. Souvenirs can be bought from China Town in bulk. There is high probabilityt to find good deals at China Town.
Downtown looks great in night. Lot of Photographers can be seen around the streets clicking city landscapes and lights.
San Francisco has various modes of Transportation. Deciding location of your hotel can also be dependent of kind of transportation you would be using in the city. E.g. - Union Square is very well connected through most of the transportation modes in San Francisco Downtown.
I have stayed in Hilton which is appropriately located around Union Square in San Francisco Downtown. Feel free to take a look at our review of San Francisco hotels and make a better choice for yourself.
Caltrain is another experience not to be missed in San Francisco. Some of the popular modes of commute within San Francisco are - cable cars, Streetcars, Buses, Trolleybuses, Bay Area rapid transit, Caltrain and Ferries. It's recommended to check out CityPass if you are planning to be there in San Francisco for more than a week. Some of the passes are quite pocket friendly when you intend to be on move most of the times.
San Francisco has plenty of shopping options and with huge range. Most of the top brands in USA would be available in San Francisco and at the same time, lot of economical stores are there. I usually buy kids cloths and electronic stuff from California. Kids cloths are available in quality and comparatively lower cost as compared to India.
There are various museums around the town and De Yong Museum have a great restaurant and you may want to take a break there and enjoy nice food in sunlight.
Napa Valley is little long drive from San Francisco but can be planned in a day. Thanks to my friend who drove me to Napa Valley. There are tours available from San Francisco to Napa Valley, although I am not sure how costly or cost-efficient they are.
Lot of folks like exploring the city on bikes and hence various services to rent out cycles or segways. There are some specific cycling routes around Golden Gate Bridge.
Lot of surfers can be seen around Golden Gate Bridge. If you are also a surfing enthusiast that's probably a good place and I am sure that you can find surfing gear on rent.
If you want to drive around San Francisco, Napa Valley and 17 Miles drive are two interesting place.
San Francisco food is also quite popular. A foodie can find plenty of options to explore. And if you prefer a specific food type, that would never be a problem find an appropriate option which suites your taste and pocket.
Golden Gate Park has plenty of places to explore.
If you have time crunch, here are few things you should not miss in San Francisco -
Cable Car Ride
Walk over Golden Gate Bridge
Walk around China Town
Strolling around Union Square
Ferry around Alcatraz and Golden Gate Bridge
Pier 39 and Fishermen Warf
Check out more about must do things in San Francisco.
It's very important to check San Francisco weather before planning a visit. Usually it's very cold and windy during Jan/Feb/Mar. I have mostly visited California during this time and it's sunny as well as windy. Weather in San Francisco is very unpredictable.
If you are alone or in group of 2-3 avoid roaming around the streets during late hours. Some of the streets in San Francisco are not considered safe and your Hotel staff would be able to guide in better way. Night life in San Francisco is also worth exploring but make appropriate arrangements to commute back to your hotel.
If time allows and you want to plan to explore places around San Franciaco, hire a car and drive on your own. 17 Miles drive is very interesting terrain to explore.
Above photograph shows Palace of Fine Arts and it looks brilliant in night. It's near Golden Gate Bridge and you can take the bus from other part of Golden Gate Bridge and get down near this beautiful building. It's usually visible from the road, so you clearly gets an idea where you have to get down. There is nice walking area around the water body. Lot of folks from neighborhood come here during early morning and evening for walk.