1 January 2014

San Francisco Travel Guide

Travel from Airport:

Super Shuttle
after Baggage Claim go out to the Shared Ride Van area on the Upper Level and find the blue uniformed attendant – best value if you reserve in advance


Rental accommodation is very nice, particularly in areas such as Potrero Hill, as you can get a real feel for the local neighbourhoods but the city is only a bus ride away
We stayed at:

If you want a central hotel, parents stayed at
Holiday Inn Golden Gateway, 1500 Van Ness Avenue, near California Street in Polk Gulch
very handy for cable car in both directions (N/S and E/W) and great views

Travel Card:

Clipper Card
Like the London Oyster card, you can load it up with credit.
Cards are issued at the BART desk in SFO airport, on the Departures level in the International Terminal. They cost $3.
If you are in the city for a while, you can get a $66 MUNI pass that is valid on buses, trams and cable cars for a month. For shorter visits there are tourist passes up to $29 for 7 days (prices correct Jan 2014).
BART is extra, but only useful if going to Berkeley or Oakland, of you want extra flexibility travelling from one end of the city to the other.


Tonga Room, Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason Street
Amazing Tongan tiki bar in basement, with Happy Hour cocktails, excellent buffet, and its own special micro-climate!

Pinecrest Diner, 401 Geary Street at Pine Street
24 hour service, the best diner in town, fantastic breakfasts

Cheesecake Factory, 8th floor of Macy’s, 251 Geary Street near Union Square
great views, great cheesecake

Nordstrom rooftop café, 865 Market Street
Amazing views up the cable-car streets, food not too pricey


Chipotle, 525 Market Street and 211 Sutter Street and 50 California Street and …

Pancho Villa Taqueria, 3071 16th Street, between Mission and Valencia
authentically Mexican, we were the only tourists in there!

other Taqueiras are available!
La Taqueira, 2889 Mission Street
El Toro Taqueira, 598 Valencia Street
Taqueira Cancun, 16th/Mission and Mission/Valencia

Mission Dolores:
Tartine bakery, 600 Guerrero Street at 18th Street
Bi-Rite organic bakery & deli, 3639 18th Street

Potrero Hill
Whole Foods Market, 450 Rhode Island Street at 17th Street
Goat Hill Pizza, 300 Connecticut Street

Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, BART Downtown
café and restaurant, reservations recommended


Japantown, Post Street between Pacific Heights and the Fillmore
a subterranean mall with every kind of Japanese shop you can imagine

Amoeba Records, 1855 Haight Street, Haight Ashbury, and 2455 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley
the largest and best, with some great second-hand finds as well

Boat Trips:

see Alcatraz & Angel Island below

see Sausalito below


Westin St Francis, Union Square
free glass lifts to the 32nd floor for views of downtown

Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third Street between Mission and Howard

Fort Point, South end of Golden Gate Bridge
run by Parks Service, Fort Point has great architecture, and views taking you right up to the Golden Gate bridge

Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory, 900 North Point Street
in a renovated warehouse district, with shop, café and tasting factory, a must for all chocaholics!

As the must-see attraction in San Francisco, it is vital you books months in advance. The Parks Service runs the island, but you need a place on a boat. There are many scam sites for this, and you should only use the official company: http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/
It is nice to book a trip that also visits other islands in the area, we took a boat to Angel Island, price included a tram tour.

Coit Tower
take a #39 bus from Fisherman’s Wharf, the hill up to the tower is very steep!

Cliff House, 1090 Point Lobos, near Lincoln Park
Sutro’s restaurant, historic building, ruined pool; there is a cheaper diner at top of hill

Cable Car Museum, 1201 Mason Street
you’ve never seen a museum quite like this – it actually has the cable that pulls the cars running through the middle of the museum!

Lombard Street, the “windiest” street in SF, between Hyde and Leavenworth
alternative steep street: Vermont Street between 20th and 22nd, in Potrero Hill

Golden Gate Park
de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
Japanese Tea Garden cafe

Fisherman’s Wharf
A tourist trap, with overpriced eateries, noisy sea lions, but it is the best place to get Boudin bakery sourdough with clam chowder

Golden Gate Bridge
hire a bike, or walk, and go across bridge to Sausalito (45 minute walk) – you get to a lovely little town with galleries, shops and delis
boats back to the city are run by several companies:
Be careful when buying your ticket in case one of the other boats comes first! Amazing views of Golden Gate on return journey

Dashiell Hammett, home of:
891 Post Street #401, San Francisco

San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch, 100 Larkin Street, near Civic Center

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