San Francisco Travel Guide

San Francisco Overview

San Francisco is located on the Northern Coast of California on the tip of a small peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay.   The city is relatively small, covering only a 7x7 square mile piece of land, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in style, flavor and heart.  San Francisco is known for its extremely liberal residents and is home to one of the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities in the United States.  It was also ground zero for the hippie movement in the 1960's which can still be very much seen today.    

But San Francisco is not all queers and hippies; there is a large fashion, art, music, and poetry scene that attracts artists and visitors from all over the world. San Francisco's Victorian architecture, hilly terrain and prominent landmarks make the entire city a living work of art.   San Francisco is also known for technology –once the epicenter of the Dot Com boom in the 1990's- and is an important financial hub for the West Coast of the United States.  

San Francisco has 11 official districts all with their own unique flavor and vibe.  Some of the more popular neighborhoods are:

Union Square – located downtown near the Financial District and home to many hotels, shopping centers and the famous cable car turntable. Expect to see a lot of tourists in this neighborhood.

The Haight – Once home base for the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and several other influential bands of the 1960's and 70's, The Haight is known as the home of the hippie movement, and has an alternative edge even today.  

SoMa (South ofMarket) – Located downtown and recently becoming one of the more trendy SF neighborhoods.  Home to the San Francisco Giants, the Museum of Modern Art and dozens of clubs and lounges - SoMa is worth checking out.

Mission District– A flavorful neighborhood with a large Hispanic community, the Mission District offers excellent restaurants, cafés and nightlife.   The Mission District has recently become more and more gentrified and is considered one of San Francisco hottest neighborhoods.

The Castro –Beautiful neighbor with many upscale restaurants and shopping, the Castro is also the cultural center for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movement.

North Beach –Also know as Little Italy, this neighborhood is trendy, hip, and beautiful –excellent restaurants and bars too.

San Francisco is often much colder than people think.   This is not sunny Southern California,and when the fog rolls in off the Bay, it can be down right chilly.   So dress accordingly; bring a jacket and sweater (even in the summertime). You'll be happy you did.

Things to do in San Francisco

There's no shortage of things to seen and do in San Francisco.

Here are a few sites you might want to checkout:

The Golden Gate bridge – one of the most recognizable and photographed bridges in the world.  You can walk or bike across the bridge.

Lombard Street –the most crookedest street in the United States.   Located in Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets.

Golden Gate Park– An extremely large and beautiful park located in the Avenues – this is a great place to explore and get lost for a day.

Ocean Beach – When you get to the western end of Golden Gate Park you'll find Ocean Beach.  Sick your toes in the sand and feel how cold the ocean is.

Coit Tower – A monument dedicated to the firefighters who fought the fires in the city of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake.  Located at the top of Telegraph hill in North Beach, walk up to the top and see breath taking views on San Francisco Bay.

Chinatown – San Francisco has a massive Chinatown and it's a great place to spend the afternoon.   Be sure to have Dim Sum at one of the local restaurants.  

Alcatraz – One of the most famous prisons in the world, Alcatraz once held criminal heavy weights such as Al Capone, George "Machinegun" Kelly and Franklin Stroud (aka the Birdman of Alcatraz). Long since shutdown, Alcatraz is a museum offering daily tours.

Twin Peaks – Fora birds-eye view of the City of San Francisco take a hike up to Twin Peaks.   Don't forget to bring your camera.

San Francisco Nightlife. There is a little something for everyone in San Francisco.   For the club scene head South of Market.   If you're looking for trendy dive bars and lounges check out the Mission District.   For more of a yuppie scene go to the Marina.   There is no shortage of gay bars and clubs in the Castro. Nightlife ends early in SF. Bars and clubs close at 2:00 (last call at 1:30) so the people of San Francisco usually start their evenings early.


Hotels in San Francisco

Hostelling International (Downtown).  Dirt cheap, clean, safe hostel located in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district.  Tel:  (415) 788-5604

Pacific Tradewinds Backpackers.  Great little hostel, centrally located and very cheap.  Tel: (415) 433-7970

The Green Tortoise Hostel.  Excellent hostel and very popular with backpackers for all over the world.  Great location in North Beach.  Tel:  (415) 834-1000

Hotel Boheme – Nice mid-range hotel located in North Beach.  Tel: (415) 433-9111

The Orchard Hotel – Stylish boutique hotel centrally located. Tel (415) 362-8878

San Francisco Weather

San Francisco Travel Resources

Cheap Hotels in San Francisco - good resource to search for budget hotels in the City of san Francisco

San Francisco CityPASS - save on admission to some of the top attractions in the San Francisco area.


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This page was last modified on 12 Feb 2013 by Munch