Ok .. be prepared for a mix in San Francisco. Your going to have homeless people all over the place with rich affluent tech people alongside. Its a big contrast. A big issue in the city is gentrification. Having said that, there are lots of really cool places but they might be a little hard to find.
Try foursquare app or trip advisor. The apps really do work here. They are your friend.
For the touristy type stuff, I head straight down to http://www.pier39.com/ and look at the sea lions. Then I jump on a one hour harbour tour. They all go by alcatrez and under the Golden Gate. This way I really know I’m in San Francisco. The other clue is the waft of dope floating down Market st. Apparently its legal to smoke for medical purposes in California, just your not supposed to do it in the open.
Its hard to get onto an alcatrez tour at this time of year (October as I write this), if you haven’t booked in advance. However some people like Alcatrez, others don’t. I’ve yet to get on the rock but it still fascinates me when I go by it, on a harbour tour.
Pier 39 is next door to Fishermans Wharf – restaurants etc. Try https://www.boudinbakery.com/ they are famous for their clam chowder in a bread bowl. I have breakfast at Boudin the first day in San Francisco now and go for the traditional egg and bacon brekkie.
Another good thing to do is to hire a bike and cycle over the Golden Gate bridge – its not hard. Most catch the ferry back from Sausalito (be weary of the time of day as big line ups to get on the ferry). If fogged in maybe choose another day or wait for it to clear. Plenty of bike hire places around $7 per hour.
If you want to hop on the Cable Car, I’d avoid doing it at power/market st turn around near union square. Lines are always long. Try doing it next door to Fishermans Wharf at http://www.ghirardellisq.com/. One of the first stops is the top of Lombard St. Could walk down it and then catch the cable car again 🙂
San Francisco is next highest densest populated city after New York. I think the population itself is about ~750K. The broader bay area is massive – highway 101 is the main route to Silicon Valley. Theres heaps of meet ups and events on during the week. Its also a bit cheaper to stay then San Francisco. However not much to do around Silicon Valley (unless you want to work) – its really suburbia with massive campuses.
To find events use meetup,com or eventbrite. More then likely you’ll find an event that interests you like close by (SF and wider Bay Area). Distances outside of San Francisco are deceptive, so you really need a car or use say the caltrain/BART and uber.
ohh I nearly forgot about the maker movement in SF http://www.techshop.ws/tssf.html – see if you can get a tour.
Theres also startup house nearby setup by australians. has bunk beds for $25 per night .. think i’m a bit over that lol but many people think its great.
The above is a slightly modified version of an email, I sent to a friend, explaining about what to do in San Francisco. If you have some other tips or if your a regular traveller to San Francisco, I’d love to hear about what rituals you now have.
Safe travels and happy exploring.