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Top 10 Travel Tips for visiting San Francisco:
10. Bring warm clothes, such as sweaters and long pants. However, leave your parka and ski gloves at home. You'll be happier dressing in layers. The average temperature here is about 62° F. Yes, even in the summer.
9. Wear comfortable shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking on steep hills.
8. Avoid the Civic Center (Market and 6th to Market and Van Ness, or thereabouts) after dark. SF has a pretty bad homeless problem in this part of the city. It's getting much better, but there are better places to be at night. Plus, it's rather dirty. Also, avoid the Tenderloin. It's very close to the Union Square shopping district so it is easy to do. Make sure not to wander in the wrong direction, especially after dark.
7. Make dinner reservations, if you can. In SF, restaurant goers take their food seriously, and you might not be able to get a seat. Expect that there are some places that you'll probably never be able to get reservations to (Gary Danko, Masa's) and if you are lucky enough to get into one of these places, by all means DO IT. Forget the expense. It will be an unforgettable experience.
6. Visit Fisherman's Wharf and Union Square, but do not spend all your time there. Take a ride on the Ferry. Or rent a bicycle to cross the bridge and visit Sausailto. Maybe pedal on to Tiburon and get the Ferry back. There are so many amazing neighborhoods to hang out in that have quirky little restaurants and shops -- this is the heart of San Francisco. Try Russian Hill, Potrero Hill or the Mission. If you want to save money on the tourist activities or a quick bite consider the deal sites, CoupFlip.com has a pretty big selection, but there are others as well. It's start-up central so there are tons of online deals to be had at good places.
5. Be patient with the public transportation. It can be rather good (ok, maybe not by European or NY standards), but confusing as there are two separate tickets you have to buy for BART (subway) and MUNI (buses/streetcars). Do not assume the ticket you bought for BART works on MUNI. There aren't many taxi cabs here - hailing one from a streetcorner is next to impossible - so if you need one plan ahead and use your cellphone to call for pick-up. If you are tech savvy, consider hailing a ride using the mobile apps from Uber, Lyft, or SideCar. They are much faster and more reliable than hailing a cab on the street.
4. Visit the parks in this city, especially Golden Gate Park. You could easily spend a week just at this park, there is so much to do. Besides the beautiful walks, there's lakes and ponds you can paddle across or feed the ducks, fields where you can play football with your friends (or the locals -- there's often pickup games here on the weekends you can drop in on), one of the most incredible museums in the nation (the DeYoung), the Conservatory of Flowers, tennis courts, and even a herd of buffalo!
3. Want to start a conversation? Ask them about their opinion on their city politics. Most San Franciscans know what is going on with their local politics, which are much more active and newsworthy than almost any other city in America. It will probably win you more friends than discussing the current President, gay marriage or abortion (you will either be preaching to the choir, or completely ostracized if you do).
2. Parking is near impossible. If you get a ticket and leave the U.S without paying you will regret it on your next visit. A 15 to 30 minute search for parking is not uncommon. Budget it into your travel time.
1. Whatever you do, NEVER EVER call it "Frisco." (Also, please don't call it "San Fran." If you want to abbreviate it, calling it "S.F." is the best way to go).