San Francisco City Guide
About San Francisco
The extraordinary city of San Francisco is located on the west coast of the USA and is one of the most visited destinations in the world. Visitors from all over around the world plan a trip to San Francisco to experience its inimitable charm, which include unique architecture, winding, steep streets coupled with a welcoming and open nature.
The city has, for years, been a trend setter of various sorts from the flower-power movement, which was centered in its Haight–Ashbury district during the 1960’s to the Gay liberation movement of the 1970’s and the current locavore and sustainable-living movement. San Francisco has been at the forefront of them all and hence it is no wonder then that the city is regularly voted as one of the ‘best cities to live in the USA’.
San Francisco, which, has weathered many cultural, ethnic tensions and business tensions down the ages is also the financial, cultural and transportation epicenter of the larger San Francisco Bay area and a favored US vacation destination.
Where to stay in San Francisco
San Francisco is a big city and as such offers a wide variety of accommodations options. Unlike other cities, however San Francisco is not laid out in an organized grid as its ever changing neighborhoods are quite fluid and don’t seem to have well defined boundaries. The city, however, is equipped with a wide assortment of hotels, which can be found all over the city in various diverse San Francisco neighborhoods.
Nob Hill is one of San Francisco's prime neighborhoods, renowned for its city landmarks and the famous luxury hotels that border Huntington Park. The neighborhood’s origin dates back to the time of the California Gold Rush when cable car lines made the hilltop accessible and railroad barons built their mansions here. Today these mansions have been replaced by opulent luxury hotels that offer a plethora of pampering delights. This is the place to stay when youwant to be surrounded by luxuries during your vacation to Nob Hill.
South of Market is a huge district that extends from the Embarcadero to Eleventh Street, between Market and Townsend. The neighborhood features prominent attractions like South Park, the Giants ball park, the SF MOMA and the Yerba Buena gardens. This stylish neighborhood is also home to internet companies, nightclubs, restaurants and many chic hotels.
Many visitors to San Francisco also like to stay at the many diverse hotels located within the city’s popular downtown area, which hosts several distinct neighborhoods like Chinatown, Italian North Beach and the shopping Mecca of Union Square.
Places to see in San Francisco
San Francisco is a large urban metropolis and accordingly offers a wide assortment of attractions, which are bound to appeal to all types of tourists.
Alcatraz is one of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks. This US fort turned prison, which is located on an island in San Francisco Bay, functioned as a maximum security prison for nearly 34 years and once housed famous gangsters like Al "Scarface" Capone and Robert "Birdman" Stroud. You can visit Alcatraz by hoping on an Alcatraz Cruise Ferry, which can be got from Pier 33. You can then opt for a guided tour of the desolate prison, which was infamously referred to as ‘The Rock’.
The Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco’s most iconic landmark is its magnificent Golden Gate Bridge, which spans 6450 feet and links San Francisco to Marin County. This magnificent landmark was completed in 1937 at a cost of $35 million. The bridge has a visitor center and gift shop on the San Francisco side and offers gorgeous views of the bay. You can always visit the Bridge on land or soar above it on a Sea plane tour, which affords stunning vistas of the bridge and the city.
The Golden Gate Park
Yet another famous landmark of San Francisco is its national park, which is known as Golden Gate Park. This large man-made park is the largest cultivated urban park in the country, which encompasses more than 1000 verdant acres of gardens and meadows. The Golden Gate Park stretches three miles inland from the San Francisco Bay and has within its environs a Japanese Tea Garden, the California Academy of Sciences, the Strybring Arboretum, the Conservatory of Flowers and the De Young Museum. The De Young museum is San Francisco’s oldest museum whose extensive collection features mainly American art from the colonial period to the mid 20th century.
Fisherman’s Wharf, is yet another renowned San Francisco attraction, which is considered to be extremely ‘touristy’ but is regarded as must-do on any trip to San Francisco. The wharf, which is populated by street performers, restaurants, souvenir stores, farmers markets, represents the heartbeat of San Francisco and gives you a valuable insight to the inimitable spirit of the city.
This renowned crooked street is another famous attraction of San Francisco. The street occupies a descent from Hyde Street to Leavenworth Street and is characterized with eight switchbacks, which have given it the title of the ‘crookedest street’ in the world. It’s no wonder then that Lombard Street is one of the most photographed sights of any visit to San Francisco.
Another attraction in this compelling city is Coit Tower, which is an Art Deco tower that is located on Telegraph Hill. This tower rises to 210 feet and offers gorgeous vistas of the bay and the city.
The Asian Art Museum
The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is one of the largest Asian art museums in the world, which should be a must-do for any art lover on a visit to San Francisco. This museum has a collection of nearly 15000 works that cover 6000 years of Asian history and includes treasures from countries like India, China, Japan and Korea.
The Chinatown District
San Francisco’s Chinatown is a major attraction of the city. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in the USA which is also the largest Chinatown in the world. The district has an imposing entrance, which takes the form of a dragon shaped archway at Grant Avenue and Bush Street.
San Francisco’s Chinatown is busy and bustling neighborhood that is populated by numerous vendors and stores that sell a huge assortment of Asian eats along with groceries, silk, jade and various other delights from the Far East.
Yerba Buena Gardens
Located in the district of South of Market are the lush Yerba Buena gardens, which have within their boundaries art museums, a children’s garden and a historic carousel. Any vacation to San Francisco with children should include a visit to these gardens along with a trip to the Exploratorium and a ride on one of San Francisco’s iconic cable cars.
San Francisco’s cable cars have been in operation since 1873 and have in recent times been declared a National Historic Landmark, though they continue to transport residents and tourists across different parts of the city.
Best time to visit San Francisco
San Francisco enjoys a rather temperate year-round climate, which is characterized by mild, wet winters and relatively dry summers. Average day temperatures during the San Francisco summer months, May to October, range between highs of 70ºF (21ºC) and lows of 51ºF (10ºC).
However, a unique aspect of the San Francisco summer is the rolling fog that blankets the western part of the city during the spring and summer months. This fog is produced by a combination of the cold ocean waters and high heat of California mainland. The eastern half of the city is actually protected from the fog by the hills that rise from the center of the city. In spite of the fog, the summer months are generally considered to be the best time to book a vacation to San Francisco.
The San Francisco winters, which usually last from November to April, are generally cool and are characterized by temperatures that range from highs of 64ºF (17ºC) to lows of 46ºF (7ºC). The city also receives much of its annual rainfall of 20 inches during these winter months.
Getting around in San Francisco
San Francisco is easily accessed by air via its gargantuan San Francisco international airport that welcomes a whole host of international and domestic carriers. Fare Buzz offers a wide array of year round cheap air flight and hotel deals for San Francisco, which can be booked individually or combined in an attractive vacation package. You then have to just pack your bags and get ready to fly.
Getting around San Francisco is also easy for the city is well served by a public transport system that is operated by the San Francisco Municipal Rail that is commonly referred to as MUNI. This system consists of buses, electric trolleys, street cars, ferries, light rail, and the city’s famed cable cars.
Additionally, the city is also served by commuter rail services provided by BART (the Bay Area Rapid Transit) which serves downtown San Francisco and its neighboring areas of Oakland, Pittsburg, and Fremont and The Cal Train system, which runs along the Peninsula to San Jose.
Most visitors to the city make good use of the public transport system, though many of them also walk and bike in addition to using public transport. This extensive public transport system offers access to nearly all parts of the city, though San Francisco is also equipped with plentiful taxi services. These taxi services are operated by companies like Luxor Cabs, De Soto Cab, SF Green Cab, Yellow Cab and Veteran's Cab. However it is not really that easy to hail a cab in the street and if you need a cab in San Francisco you have to order one on the phone.
If you rather rent a car for the duration of your stay in San Francisco, then that can be arranged by us at Fare Buzz since we offer a wide array of affordable car rentals for San Francisco, which like our flights, hotels and vacation packages can be booked via our online booking platform or on the phone via our efficient customer services department.
Where to shop in San Francisco
San Francisco offers a wide array of shopping destinations; however its best known shopping destination is its Union Square district that is located around Union Square Park. This area is home to big name department stores like Macys’, Saks and various other upscale retail choices.
Other popular districts for shopping in San Francisco include locales like Chestnut Street, which has many stylish boutiques, Hayes Valley, which is home to many hip boutiques, cafes and restaurants and Fillmore Street in the Pacific Heights district, which offers edgy wares along with many trendy and high end shopping options.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art store is another favored shopping locale in the city that offers a fantastic selection of art books, posters, DVDs and other beautiful curios. Similarly, the Exploratorium offers an interesting range of interactive toys, robots, and other science themed media and curios and the Asian Art Museum store offers the city's best collection of books, fabrics, statues, bowls and jewelry. All these various products make for interesting gifts and souvenirs from any visit to San Francisco.
Where to eat in San Francisco
San Francisco is a veritable dining Mecca, which has a wide array of restaurants dotting its culinary landscape. Almost all the world’s cuisines find representation in this dining hotspot, which caters to all tastes and budgets.
Moreover, the city is also known for setting dining trends and renowned as the home of many innovative chefs who place much emphasis on the locavore movement. This philosophy entails using fresh, seasonal and organic ingredients at all times.
Some of the best known and highly ranked upscale dining establishments in San Francisco include eateries like the Michael Mina at the St Francis Hotel, Quince (French-Italian Pacific Heights), Ino Sushi( Japantown), and Coi(Nouvelle Cuisine, North Beach).
More reasonable fare but equally delicious eats can be had at eateries like A16( Southern Italian, Chestnut Street), Bocadillos(tapas, financial district), Canteen( French infused Californian) , The Slanted Door (Vietnamese at the Ferry Plaza), La Taqueria( Mexican, Mission Street), Mifune (Japanese, Japantown) and, Utopia Café and Ton Kiang (Chinatown).
Nightlife in San Francisco
The nightlife scene in San Francisco is enticing and vibrant for each of the city’s 40+ neighborhoods host bars, clubs and lounges that are unique and offer diverse attractions. San Francisco’s nightlife scene is constantly evolving and changing as bars and clubs open and close periodically.
At present, some of the city’s most popular hangouts include establishments like the Press Club( Downtown San Francisco),Monk’s Kettle(Mission) ,Place Pigalle (Hayes Street), Lion Pub( Pacific Heights/Japantown) and the 111 Minna Gallery (South of Market).