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Plan Your Trip to San Francisco: Best of San Francisco Tourism

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San Francisco

San Francisco may be small by big city standards, but it packs a lot into its seven-mile-by-seven-mile grid. Each neighborhood has its own identity, its own vibe, and even its own weather. Spend an afternoon in Haight-Ashbury, where indie bookstores and craft breweries sit next to tie-dye boutiques and vintage shops. Or take a cable car to Chinatown, known as much for dim sum and tea rooms as it is for upscale restaurants and dive bars. There's no shortage of nature here, either. You can hike in the Presidio, play volleyball at Ocean Beach, or sprawl out on Marina Green and take in the Golden Gate views. The food scene is constantly evolving, though staples like Mission-style burritos and the chicken at Zuni Cafe aren't going anywhere. There’s always something new to do, and we’ve got more recs, below.

Travel Advice

Essential San Francisco

How to do San Francisco in 3 days

Scenic views, artsy vibes, and a diverse food scene
Read on

The best cocktail bars and breweries in San Francisco

From the miners to the beatniks, the hippies to the techies, San Francisco is a place people have been coming to reinvent themselves for more than a century. And those reinventions have often been fueled by creative ways to drink. So it should be no surprise that this culturally rich city has plenty of great bars and inventive cocktails worth your time and attention.
Robert K, Las Vegas, NV
  • Trick Dog
    69
    The cocktail menu changes every six months at this eclectic bar in the Mission. The drinks are wildly imaginative, using a combination of unique ingredients with relatively common spirits. If you're hungry, the kitchen puts an elevated spin on familiar snacks with the chicken nuggets and the Trick Dog (a hamburger on a hotdog bun) available to fill you up.
  • Li Po Cocktail Lounge
    82
    This Chinatown dive bar earned legendary status after some well-deserved praise by Anthony Bourdain. It’s got a lineup of colorful libations that complement the overhead paper lanterns. Li Po is famous for the deceptively strong Chinese Mai Tai, which has an officially trademarked name and a recipe that's top secret, although rum and some sort of herbal liqueur appear to to be the key ingredients.
  • Barebottle Brewing Company
    89
    Barebottle Brewing, one of the more adventurous players in the craft beer scene, brings some welcome social energy to Bernal Heights with regular live music and long tables to accommodate special events and large parties. The brews change frequently with the season, crafted with inspiration from local ingredients. A food truck is usually parked outside and you can always take a turn at shuffleboard or an arcade game between sips of beer.
  • House Of Shields
    53
    House of Shields has a strong legacy in San Francisco, dating back to 1908 and operating as a speakeasy during Prohibition for guests at the Palace Hotel. You can feel the history in the space with much of the original decor preserved and restored with timeless wood paneling, vintage chandeliers and an old-school neon marquee out front. The bartenders apply subtle modifications to classic cocktails and are always ready to accommodate special requests.
  • LUMA Hotel San Francisco
    650
    A drink is always better with a great view, and Cavaña is one of the most enchanting rooftop bars in Mission Bay with a perch on the 17th floor of the LUMA Hotel. The outdoor patio is a great vantage point, overlooking the Bay, Oracle Park and the city skyline, but the ambitious cocktail menu is equally worthy of your attention, taking inspiration from South American flavors with food bites to match.
  • Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar
    260
    This Nob Hill Tiki bar surrounding an indoor swimming pool takes kitsch to new levels with its “lagoon”, faux rainstorms (accompanied by a crack of thunder) and a floating boat that doubles as a live music stage. In true Tiki style, the drinks are fruity, but strong and pair well with the pan-Asian cuisine.
  • Fort Point Beer Co.
    19
    Fort Point was founded by a pair of friends who bonded over a love of homebrewing and turned their passion into the largest independent craft brewery in San Francisco. The company's first taproom is in the iconic Ferry Building on the waterfront near the Bay Bridge. Try the signature KSA Kölsch Style Ale first and take it from there. A second taproom welcomes guests on Valencia Street in the Mission district.
  • The Riptide
    8
    The Riptide isn't the fanciest place in San Francisco, but gives the Outer Sunset neighborhood a dive bar to call its own near the beach. Beer and basic cocktails are the specialties with a variety of live music and bingo nights to pass the time. The Riptide opened in 1941 and little has changed over the years, especially the stone fireplace. No food, but guests are welcome to bring over a slice from neighboring Brothers Pizza.
  • Rye
    43
    As the name suggests, Rye is a bar that loves its whiskey with an excellent selection of brown spirits and knowledgeable bartenders ready with a stiff pour. A dark and moody escape, Rye is something of an industry clubhouse with rugged brick and wood decor in an area between Lower Nob Hill and Tenderloin. The Basil Gimlet is my longtime favorite, but you'll love any variation on an Old Fashioned your bartender has in mind.

San Francisco Travel Guide

Travelers' pro tips or experiencing San Francisco

bsimosd

Although the city is relatively small geographically, because of the hills, you need to buy a one, three, or seven-day visitor pass at either the airport or any Walgreens. This allows you access to the buses, trams, street cars and — most importantly — the cable cars. Without the pass, each trip on a cable car will cost you $6!

ColoMama33

Dress in layers, the weather can be unpredictable.

Martha C

If you like to cycle, rent a bike and ride along the waterfront. Just be careful of getting caught out going up those famous hills!

54Nancy54

San Francisco is a great city for walking but also has easily manageable public transportation to help you get around. There is lots to see in one day by foot and cable car/trolley/bus.

Bill P

Like to enjoy a long walk while enjoying great sights and tastes? You can visit Italy, China, shopping and a fishing village all within a comfortable six-mile walk...

SanMijas

San Francisco is a small city representing every culture available with the ocean to one side and the bay to the other. Loads of parks throughout the city and Golden Gate Park being the jewel. A city of hills and variety of architecture with fabulous views. A city with history. ... Each neighborhood offers a different experience and different culture.

What is the best way to get there?

flying

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is the city’s primary airport with more than 50 airlines and nonstop service to more than 125 cities. Another option is Oakland International Airport (OAK) across the bay.

train

Amtrak’s California Zephyr train runs between Chicago and the Bay Area, with stops in Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City and Reno. It also offers three train lines within California.

bus

Greyhound buses to San Francisco are available to/from many U.S. cities, while Megabus is available to/from a few select cities in California.

For more info on getting to San Francisco, visit here.

Do I need a visa?

If you are a non-U.S. citizen, you may need a visa to visit San Francisco, unless your country is part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The program allows citizens of certain countries to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa.

For more info on visas and the VWP, visit here.

When is the best time to visit?

Summer sees the biggest concentration of festivals — including San Francisco Pride and Outside Lands music festival — but also cooler temperatures, whereas fall offers warmer, sunny weather. Average daily temperatures in summer are highs of 19°C and lows of 15°C, while winter highs can hit 15°C and lows of 7°C.

Whenever you choose to visit, come prepared with layers, as the fog usually burns off by mid-morning and returns in the early evening, bringing with it huge swings in temperature.

Get around

trains

San Francisco Municipal Railway, aka Muni, operates a light rail and Muni Metro subway. Bay Area Rapid Transit, aka BART, connects San Fran to the East Bay. Caltrain is a commuter rail that runs to San Jose.

For info on Muni fares, routes and schedules, visit here.

For info on BART fares, routes and schedules, visit here.

For info on Caltrain fares, routes and schedules, visit here.

streetcar

Muni also operates San Francisco’s historic and iconic streetcar on Market Street from Fisherman’s Wharf to Castro Street.

For more info, visit here.

cable cars

Muni also runs the three lines of San Fran’s equally famous cable cars, two of which run from Powell and Market to Fisherman’s Wharf with the third runs between Market and Van Ness. To grab one, look for its brown and white sign.

For info on fares, routes and schedules, visit here.

buses

There are plenty of muni bus routes to get you across San Francisco. To find the nearest stop, look for yellow street poles, white paint on streets or small bus shelters.

For info on fares, routes and schedules, visit here.

ferries

The San Francisco Bay Ferry runs from the Ferry Building and Pier 39 to six Bay Area cities while the Golden Gate Ferry connects to Marin County.

taxis

There are plenty of taxi companies operating in San Francisco that can get you to/from airports and around town.

bikes

Bay Wheels, operated by Lyft and available on its app, is the primary bikeshare in San Francisco.

For fares and locations, visit here.

rideshares

Uber and Lyft are available in San Francisco via their apps on your smartphone.

On the ground

What is the timezone?

Pacific Time.

What are the voltage/plug types?

The standard voltage in San Francisco is 110V to 115V, 60Hz AC. Outlets accommodate two-prong flat (not grounded) plugs or grounded three-prong plugs.

What is the currency?

USD.

Are ATMs readily accessible?

Yes.

Are credit cards widely accepted?

Yes.

Is it easy to find a bank?

Yes.

How much do I tip?

Restaurants/room service

Standard tipping in San Francisco is 15 to 20 percent of your bill, or 25 percent if you were extremely happy with your meal and service.

Taxis

Like restaurants, 15 to 20 percent of your fare is a typical tip for taxis, more if they were particularly nice or helpful.

Bellhop/valet

It’s standard to give between $2-$3 cash to bellhops who help with your luggage and the valet each time you retrieve your car.

Housekeeping

It’s common to leave a tip of $2 per day of your stay to the housekeeping staff of your hotel, which you can leave in the room when you go. Some hotels leave envelopes for such tips, but if they don’t, a quick note saying “Thank you” will suffice.

Tour guides

If you take a tour in San Francisco, your guide will surely appreciate a tip, generally between $5-$10 cash.

Are there local customs I should know?

Drinking

The legal drinking age in San Francisco is 21.

Drugs

Recreational marijuana is legal for private use in San Francisco for adults 18 and older with ID.

Attire

As the birthplace of Levi’s, jeans are acceptable to wear to just about everything.

Frequently Asked Questions about San Francisco

We recommend staying at one of the most popular hotels in San Francisco, which include:


San Francisco is known for some of its popular attractions, which include:


If you're a more budget-conscious traveler, then you may want to consider traveling to San Francisco between September and November, when hotel prices are generally the lowest. Peak hotel prices generally start between March and May.