You gave us your best tips and hacks for San Francisco—not just how to visit, but how to make a life there. For a west-coast city of under a million people, SF is remarkably storied, varied, and resilient. Here are our favorite tips.
The most popular hack: Layer up. San Francisco weather varies widely by neighborhood, and it never gets as hot as L.A. Sweaters and jackets are useful year-round.
Where to Go in SF
This is a great San Francisco itinerary for both locals and visitors:
I usually skip the Market Street walk and take the F trolley instead, after breakfast at Orphan Andy’s 24/7 diner, ten steps from the end of the F line. While you’re at Fisherman’s Wharf, check out the vintage pre-electronic arcade games at the Musée Mechanique.
If you’ve got the energy (or on Day 2), keep on walking through the Presidio and out to Land’s End. As Kevin Baker says:
Check out the Sutro Baths. 1920's era coastal bathhouse that was abandoned, and the ruins have partially crumbled into the sea. It looks awesome, especially on foggy days, and you’re allowed to climb on the ruins without restriction.
Then grab clam chowder at Louis’, which is much cheaper than the fancy Cliff House down the hill.
Leer verymenychefs’s six-part guide, which talks up overlooked neighborhoods and farmers’ markets, but especially this:
Coffee! Even if you are not a coffee person, San Francisco has an overwhelming amount of coffee options and they are all great in their own ways. Skip Blue Bottle and Philz and go to some of the more fun ones, like Sightglass or Ritual. Dandelion Chocolate and The Mill use Four Barrel and have fun spins on their drinks. A good chunk of the shops you go to will sell their own beans, so if you like them buy a pack. Don’t go to Blue Bottle.
GG notes some underrated spots:
Some of my favorite non-obvious places to take out-of-town visitors are to the historic ships docked at the Hyde Street Pier, the Haas-Lilienthal House, and to see the hanggliders at Fort Funston. Also, people who have been to the SFMOMA previously may not realize that it has finally re-opened and is something like triple the size and definitely worth seeing.
Zaggie recommends the California Street cable car over the tourist-packed Powell line. But first go to the Ferry Building and cobble together a meal from the various stands:
The Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant will let you bring in food from other vendors in the Ferry Building (last time I was there anyway). Hog Island Oyster is the other “must visit” in the Ferry Building. Sit at the oyster bar inside and slurp down a dozen Marin Miyagi oysters with a crisp white wine.
xozai wrote a massive guide to visiting SF, with a long list of recommended spots, also available as a blog post. They remind you to prebook for Alcatraz, and they praise Golden Gate Park. (After three years in San Francisco and eight in New York, I’d still choose the lush and complex Golden Gate over Prospect or Central Park.)
Where to Go Beyond SF
llaalleell has some East Bay recommendations:
I always hit up my old haunts—Rasputin and Amoeba Music on Telegraph in Berkeley, and Fentons Ice Cream and Lois the Pie Queen in Oakland (the latter being one of the few places where I’ll order grits).
mettle branches out farther:
ConesOfFunshire breaks down all the ways to get around the city:
Take the ferries. Especially if you want to get between Pier 39 and the Ferry Building, it’s cheap and fast. Don’t take the ferry to Oakland though, the Oakland pier’s not well placed in the city, instead take the BART and pray with everyone else that the earthquake won’t happen. The ferries exist to move people around if the bridges and tunnels close if an earthquake happens, so they’re rarely full, and they have a bar.
And get free parking near Fisherman’s Wharf:
Think East Coastily, Act Locally
“People in SF are exact time or late for everything,” says VTorresComedy. So if you show up early to an event, you’ll get amazing seats. Kavi Reddy adds:
According to ArchdukeJFranz (and my own experience), SF is a “three move city”:
Remember M.E.’s tip next time you rent a car:
If you drive, remember to TURN THOSE WHEELS ON HILLS!! Only takes one ticket, but man it’s annoying to forget, and hills are pretty ubiquitous in SF.
And use SpotHero to find paid parking:
stalkinghorse suggests exploiting MUNI transit’s honor system:
The unlimited monthly muni pass is so worth it but the fare evader cops only work downtown. That means If you are in the avenues or just about any part of the city that is not downtown you ride for free (illegally).
Rowdy knows how to liquor up:
sftechperson has a whole list of quick hacks for locals:
Read the whole thread for more, leave your own San Francisco tips below, and look out for next week, when we move off the coasts and into the desert.
Previously on Hack Your City: New York.