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Hotels in San Francisco start at $52 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Joe Miragliotta Gnational Gnomad
Planning a trip to San Francisco can be a little overwhelming, especially if you’ve never been before. From the 10,000-year history of the Ohlone and Coast Miwok peoples to the 1967 “Summer of Love,” one could easily spend an entire week focusing the city’s rich past. But then you can’t forget the array of galleries, shows, tastes, and activities to be found here either, right?
If you can’t decide where to start, have no fear! Below is a starter list to help you put together an awesome visit to the “City by the Bay”—whether you’re looking for a well-rounded experience or one of a more themed variety.
For as many different kinds of activities you’ll find in San Francisco, there are probably as many different kinds of hotels. So why not set the tone of your trip from the moment you check in?
If you want to properly experience a place, you’re just not doing it right if you aren’t including the food. Even if there isn’t a regional dish to try out, where and what the locals eat is integral to understanding the vibe of the city. San Francisco hosts beloved regional specialties like abalone and Dungeness crabs, as well as Green Goddess dressing, mai tais, and fortune cookies.
• - for some fantastic seafood, plus an oyster bar and raw bar
• - if you’re looking for some pretty amazing barbecue outside the American Midwest/South
• - to try a romantic dinner that (although a little pricey) tastes as wonderful as it looks
• - if an Italian happy hour sounds like something you’d be into
• - for a beautiful Asian-American dinner
While you can definitely drive yourself around during your visit to San Francisco, it may be more trouble than it’s worth. Traffic isn’t terrible—at least, not compared to any other city—but the hills can be intimidating, and parking always seems a little sparse and/or expensive. So why not take advantage of those historic streetcars and cable cars? Visitor Passports can be for 1 ($21), 3 ($32), or 7 ($42) consecutive days of use, and will grant you access to their Muni, Muni Metro, and (yes) streetcars and cable cars. There are also that include admission to points of interest around the city, like the Aquarium of the Bay and the de Young Museum. If you just aren’t into the public transportation scene, the usual rideshare services operate here as well.
When one thinks about San Francisco, the gorgeous Golden Gate Bridge is typically the first thing that comes to mind. That’s certainly a massive draw for anyone who visits the Bay Area, but the entire region is quite beautiful. Here’s some fantastic spots to visit:
• - From the Ohlone people to the Spanish to the U.S. Army, this National Historic Landmark has been part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area since 1994. With over two dozen trails and overlooks for hiking, paved roads for cycling, and a place for boardsailing and kite surfing, you might find it hard to decide what to do here. They even have a golf course, tennis courts, bowling alley, and athletic fields for those looking to play some sports.
• Yosemite and Wine Country Tours - Let’s not forget how close San Francisco is to wine country and the gorgeous Yosemite National Park. If you happen to be staying in the area for more than a couple of days, you might consider venturing out for a day or two to , , or maybe !
• Sailings and Cruises - Don’t worry—you can also spend some time on the water. Visitors to the area have some pretty spectacular options for how they want to take in the beautiful bay. , , and boat tours are just a sample of the choices available.
Last, but absolutely not least, incorporating history and/or art into your visit is a must. San Francisco has so much to offer in these areas that even a themed trip could fill several blocks in the itinerary with them. So go ahead, go crazy!
• Walking tours
• Alcatraz - former Civil War fortification/military prison/infamous penitentiary
• SFMOMA - nonprofit modern art museum
Of course, this is far from everything there is to do in San Francisco. For more information on everything from flights, hotels, activities, and tours, check out Travelocity.com.
Need insider tips on must-see attractions in San Francisco? Check out our San Francisco travel guide!