San Francisco: Tips for a First Time Visitor

San Francisco: Tips for a First Time Visitor

Written By: Krazy Kristen

This California city is one that I like to visit as often as possible. There’s something serene and relaxing about visiting a major city that’s surrounded by beautiful ocean views and iconic landmarks, like the Golden Gate Bridge. Its proximity to Napa Valley and other coastal towns makes it a beautiful and central location for any traveler to the area. Another thing I like about San Francisco is that you can visit it for as short or as long of a trip as you’d like. If you’re passing through on Pacific Coast Highway, it’s completely plausible to spend only one day in the city checking out many of the popular sights and sounds. I thought I would put together a city guide for San Francisco for those times you can only spend one day and want to make the most of your trip.

DRESS WARMLY

No matter what time of year you visit, the weather in San Francisco is unpredictable. Chilly wind, fog and rain are some of the most common fall, winter and spring weather patterns to hit the city, so it’s always advisable to wear layers and always pack an umbrella just in case. During the summer months the occasional heatwave can pass through so dressing in layers is always a good idea.

TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS

One of the cool things about San Francisco is that many of our favorite tech conveniences probably started in this northern California city. Whether you’re stopping in the city with your own vehicle or not, it’s really easy to take advantage of the public transportation options in San Francisco. Keep your sightseeing stress-free by using car hire services such as Uber or Lyft -- these drivers are highly skilled in navigating steep hills and busy sections of San Francisco, which will make your life easier if you’re new to the city. The BART transit system is also very convenient and easy to use and takes you from the San Francisco International Airport to downtown and beyond for just a few dollars each way. Finally, no trip to San Francisco is complete without hopping on one of the famous cable cars, which take you to various locations in the city, such as the Embarcadero and Union Square.

FAMOUS NEIGHBORHOODS

There are countless neighborhoods in San Francisco to visit, so figure out which one you want to see first to get that out of the way. Whether you want to look around at some of the beautiful homes on Nob Hill or you want to check out a restaurant in the Embarcadero or visit a gay club in The Castro, there is no shortage to activities. Many of these cities are connected by major streets and thoroughfares so you can stop and enjoy them from one end of the city to the next. Utilize the cable cars or BART system as much as possible so that you can see the neighborhoods as you’re passing through to your destination.

VISIT ALCATRAZ

Alcatraz Island is viewable from nearly any point in the city and it’s one of the iconic landmarks the visitors to San Francisco should make time to see. Many notorious and famous criminals once called Alcatraz home and the lore surrounding escapes is just as interesting. One downside to Alcatraz is that during busy times tourist spots are usually booked up so one way to get a good view of it is to hop on the ferry to Sausalito, which gives you amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island as you pass by on the boat.

DINE AWAY

Being a coastal town, San Francisco is best known for its delicious sourdough bread and seafood among other things. One great place to dine is at the Embarcadero which has a variety of restaurants and eateries in which to enjoy waterfront views. Check out the famous Boudin Bakery and Cafe for some delicious oysters and fresh bread, or walk along to the Ferry Building for a number of unique eats and fun dining spots they give you a taste of the city in one convenient location.

DIVE INTO HISTORY

San Francisco is one of California’s oldest cities, which means it’s full of culture and history. Visit the oldest building in the city, Mision San Francisco de Asis or take a walk to Hendrik Point for an incredible view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Newcomers of San Francisco might not realize just how far across the Bridge is, but if you have the time and you want the exercise, it is one experience you won’t want to miss.

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