San Francisco is perhaps the most famous city in the world. There’s so much to see and do in the so-called City by the Bay that you might have no idea how to go about it. There are so many ways to experience San Francisco, after all, more than one can count.
And that kind of paralysis by analysis can – and will – ruin your time in this wonderful place. You’ll be stressed out without doing anything fun, and you’ll be going back home with sour memories. If you worry about this happening to you, fear not! This handy guide will show you all the best ways to experience San Francisco.
That said, you might not be a tourist sticking around for a short while. Maybe you’re moving to San Francisco from another city, and you’ll have all the time in the world to soak in the sights. If so, you’ll still want to read on. This city has so much going on that, eventually, it doesn’t become a matter of what you see, but how you see it.
So let’s get started.
Create a streamlined itinerary for sight-seeing in a hurry
Every trip has its complications, and these problems usually cost you time otherwise spent taking in your location. Whether it’s lost items or broken bags, it all eats up the hours. This is pretty much a constant truth, so you ought to prepare for it whenever you travel.
You can fix most of these problems – keep track of your things, have a quality traveling bag, and so on. However, you can’t take back lost time. In case you’re pressed for time, it’s a great idea to have a quick-and-dirty itinerary on hand for emergencies. The best way to make one is to write down everything you would love to see.
Poke around on the Internet to approximate how much time it would roughly take to visit each of those places. Put the ones that require a lot of time in a to-dump list. For extra effectiveness, see which sights are near one another and cluster them in a single day’s worth of sightseeing. Try separating some time for things like buying special gifts and souvenirs for your close ones, if possible.
This means you’ll, sadly, have to miss out on some experiences. For instance, visiting Alcatraz is basically a day-long process, from the ferry rides to the tour itself. And that’s if you call ahead to book a spot on this tour – doing it impromptu is even more complicated. If you’re dead set on seeing Alcatraz, maybe consider taking an evening tour instead. You’ll still experience San Francisco, but you may need to make a few sacrifices.
Ride/rent out bikes to experience San Francisco healthily
There’s nothing quite like riding a bike in San Fran on a sunny spring day. Not only is it a healthy alternative to driving or taking the bus/trolly, but it also saves you loads of time otherwise spent walking. You have the speed of a vehicle tour combined with the autonomy to go and stop wherever you like. As long as you’ve brought your essentials for traveling, you’ll be enjoying the best of both worlds.
If you don’t have your own bike to ride, don’t worry. Being such a large city and tourist attraction, San Francisco has its fair share of bike rental agencies. They’re very professional for the most part: they provide well-functioning bikes, helmets, and escorts that know the city well. San Francisco sights are a delight to marvel at this way, believe me.
Categorize types of activities
It’s an understatement to say that this city is packed with things to do. You definitely won’t get too far trying to pack everything into your schedule. To properly experience San Francisco, you need to organize your sight-seeing by categories.
What does that mean? Well, if you’re a bit of a gourmand, you can research great places to eat in San Francisco. Or, if you’re more of a nightlife kind of person, look up the best clubs. You can classify these into neat categories that let you quickly organize your day to your liking.
Not sure what this is all about? Don’t worry, you’ll see below.
Awesome bars and restaurants in San Francisco
Here’s an example of a list of what to see in San Francisco. It’s about great places for eating and drinking (with an emphasis on cheesy goodies).
– Hog Island Oyster Company: great oysters, grilled cheese;
– Daily Driver: organic bagels, cream cheese;
– Cowgirl Creamery: European-style cheese;
– Gott’s Roadside: burgers and milkshake;
– Vive La Tarte: “tacros” (taco-croissants);
– Slanted Door: whiskey cocktails, Vietnamese fare;
– Humphry Slocombe: fun, strange ice cream flavors
– Fort Point Beer Company: local beer
This kind of organization is especially useful for tourists that visit San Francisco. It allows them to see the best of San Francisco by preparing ahead of time. See the best sights, get some quality wine and dine in there, and include other activities you wouldn’t normally have time for.
Meet the locals
Wherever you’re staying, one fact rings true: the locals know the place best. This applies whether you’re a tourist or you’ve recently moved to SF. People that have been living there their whole lives tend to know exactly where to go to get the authentic experience. That’s why you should try to make a few “native“ friends while there that can show you cool things to do in San Francisco.
Not only that, but the locals can teach you how to save money while in the city (though not every local is that way). San Francisco isn’t exactly the cheapest of cities, and your cash can quickly fizzle out if you aren’t careful.
Since SF is such a tourist hotspot, the locals there are quite used to new people from other places. That makes them very friendly in general, so don’t worry about annoying them with your attempts to make a connection. And even if they do get peeved, there are tons of people in SF, so you’ll find someone else to show you the best ways to see San Francisco.
San Francisco is a big slice of wonder – much more than anyone can handle at once. Luckily, this guide will let you take out one strategic bite at a time. And that’s one of the best ways to experience San Francisco. Savor it like the splendid treat that it is.