San Francisco has its share of romantic flair, not to mention plenty of exciting destinations and great experiences to fill your days with. We’ve compiled everything you need to book the perfect getaway, and added a bit of insider information to help you make the most of it.
The San Francisco Bay Area is home to three large airports—Oakland International, San Francisco International, and San Jose International. Fly into Oakland—the fares are much cheaper; plus, it will get you used to using public transportation to navigate the Bay Area. Though the airplane itself might not be the best in the world, flying on a lesser-known airline will ensure that you spend a minimal amount on airfare, and will get you to where you want to go.
San Francisco is known as an expensive destination, but if you know how to find a deal, the cost of your hotel will barely even cross your mind. It’s important to plan ahead and get the best deal possible while rooms are still open. It’s recommended to find something on or around Lombard Street, where there are plenty of great hotels within walking distance of some of the biggest tourist attractions in the city.
The City by the Bay is known for its diverse culinary scene, and you can’t miss this opportunity to take full advantage of it. While there are plenty of upscale restaurants that you can try if you can afford it, try mixing up your meals. Splurge on a couple of good dinners, but don’t miss out on the opportunity to try cheap local (and even street) fare while you’re getting about town. Because San Francisco is a culturally diverse city that is literally surrounded by ocean, you can buy seafood, Chinese food, and other delicious meals for affordable prices.
As many things as there are to do in San Francisco, you’ll definitely want to hit up some destinations. Most of the tourist attractions actually live up to their reputation, but as a rule, stay away from the Pier 39 shopping center; it’s very crowded and expensive. Be sure to enjoy the many unique neighborhoods that the city has to offer as well, like Sunset, Mission, Castro, and Vietnam town. Not only is this less expensive than only going to tourist destinations, it also gives you the best chance to really take in the whole city and see what it’s about. Pick a few noteworthy tourist attractions (we recommend the Alcatraz night tour, Red and White Fleet boat tour, and Chinatown) and then go exploring for yourself.
There’s plenty to do in San Francisco itself, but if you’re staying there for several days, chances are you’ll want to take full advantage of your location. There are tons of great cities and destinations in and around the Bay Area that won’t break the bank to visit; plus, you can take public transportation to many of them. Head to Sausalito (on the other side of the bay), Santa Cruz (an hour south), and Napa Valley (two hours northeast). These destinations each have plenty to do for a modest sum of money.
San Francisco is a geographically small city with beautiful weather year-round, which means you can probably walk to many of your destinations (especially if you’re staying on Lombard Street). However, if you’re looking to travel across the city (or to Oakland), it is far cheaper to use BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport) to get to your destination of choice than it is to rent a car. BART goes throughout the city, to Oakland, and to south San Francisco and only costs around 70 cents for every mile you travel. It also travels from the San Francisco Airport to Santa Cruz, if you decide to travel south. If you’re looking to travel to the north side of the bay, Golden Gate Transit offers fares from $3.25 for destinations across the bridge. If you’re looking to go to Napa, the Vallejo Ferry will take you northeast by water. Once you’re in Vallejo, Vine transit will take you the rest of the way.
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