What To See, Where To Stay, And More

San Francisco is the fourth largest city in California, and fourteenth largest city in the United States. It's set on the tip of the San Francisco peninsula, bordered by the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. It's a popular tourist attraction for people all over the world, and well known for its steep hills and world-reknown tourist attractions such as the cable cars, Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Alcatraz Island, and Fisherman's Wharf. If you're a sports enthusiast, San Francisco is home to the 49'ers (football) and Giants (baseball), as well as soccer, la crosse, and collegiate sports. There are more than 200 miles of bicycle lanes in San Francisco; boating, sailing and windsurfing are popular sports; and the San Francisco Marathan attracts more than 7,000 participants each year. Climate-wise, the temperatures in the winter are mild, summers are generally not too hot either, although the summer fog can be a nuisance. You'll find plenty to see and do here, and we aim to give you a brief idea of just what's in store for you. Read on!

Traveling To San Francisco

You may choose to fly in, drive, arrive by train or bus, and if you have a large enough boat, you can come that way, too. If coming by plane, the San Francisco Airport serves most national and international carriers. You may also opt to fly into one of the outlying aiports--the San Jose or Oakland airports. These are a little less congested than San Francisco's airport, and if you're renting a car, the city of San Francisco is easily accessible from either airport. US airlines serving San Francisco include Alaska, American, Continental, Delta, Frontier, and United, just to name a few.

Where To Stay

San Francisco is a major tourist city, and cheap hotel space in the city itself is going to be hard to find. Be prepared to spend quite a few of your vacation dollars on housing while you are here. If you're traveling by air and booking online through one of the travel sites like Travelocity or Orbitz, book your hotel space through them and save money. Or, if you have transportation available to you, consider staying in an outlying hotel or motel to save money. You can still easily drive in to the tourist attractions you are interested in seeing. Also, try to get user reviews on hotels. Here are a few of San Francisco's finest hotels, with some amenities and price ranges.

  • The Chancellor Hotel on Union Square
    The average room rate is $191 per night, with discounts available if you look for them. This is an historic hotel, so don't be put off by it's "old" look. Reviewers give it top marks for friendly and helpful staff, comfortable rooms, location to top tourist attractions and restaurants. The cable car stops right outside the door, and Chinatown. is a short walk from here.
  • Nob Hill Motor Inn
    Another older hotel, this one's average price is $226 per night, although discounts can be found. This one is conveniently located to the cable cars, Fisherman's Wharf, and the Crookedest Street. One plus is the free parking, if you are traveling by car. Good restaurants are located nearby.
  • Hotel Carlton
    Getting great reviews from travelers, this hotel is only 3 blocks to a cable car line, 6 blocks from Union Square, and 8 blocks from Chinatown. Additionally, town car service is available from the hotel to the Financial District and other locations. Rates average $180 per night or less booking through or Travelocity.

We did find that generally speaking, the lower the price, the worse the reviews by people who had stayed at them. Still, there were a few that got fairly good reviews in spite of a lower price tag. If you are on a tight budget, try one of these, but don't expect the amenities available at the higher-priced places. Still, you should get a decent room for the money.

St. Paul Hotel - average price $57 per night
Allison Hotel - average price $62 per night
Dakota Hotel - average price $62 per night
Carl Hotel - average price $78 per night

San Francisco Dining also reviews San Francisco restaurants. Here are some of their top-rated restaurants:

  • Restaurant Gary Danko
    Rated number one by, reservations are definitely a must well in advance. Serves French, Contemporary, and Californian cuisines. A little on the spendy side, but well worth the price
  • Tartine Bakery
    It's a bakery and coffee/dessert shop, located on Guerror Street. It's immensely popular, so if all you want for breakfast is a roll and coffee, be sure to give this place a try if you are anywhere in the area.
  • The Slanted Door
    Has an intriguing name, and gets excellent reviews for its food and service. Prices range from $9 to $40, and features Chinese, Vietnamese and French cuisine. You'll find this restaurant in the Ferry Building
  • Town Hall
    In the Financial District on Howard Street, a fine restaurant serving American cuisine. Gets excellent reviews with prices ranging from $31 to $40 for most meals.
  • Pacific Catch
    Most of the reviews we read indicated this is a "must-stop" for them each time they are in San Francisco. Featuring Seafood, Asian, Polynesian cuisines, they do not take reservations in advance so be prepared for a wait. But from what we read, it's well worth the wait.

Things To See And Do In San Francisco

We've gotten you hear, have fed you well and found you a place to stay. Now you're ready to see the sights. There's so much to see and do in the San Francisco area that you probably can't do it all in one trip, unless you are going to be here for several weeks. Here's just a few things for starters. Traveling with children? San Francisco is very kid-friendly with plenty of things to see and do.

Fisherman's Wharf
Shopping and dining; a Venetian Carousel; sea lions; the "Musee Mecaniue" (museum full of old and working penny arcade machines and games); the Aquatic Park.

Golden Gate Bridge
No visit to San Francisco is complete without a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge.

San Francisco Zoo

The Exploratorium
An interactive science museum that kids of all ages will enjoy.

Cable Car Ride
No trip to San Francisco is complete without at least one ride on the cable cars, either.

Tiburon/Sausilito Ferry
Take a one hour tour of the San Francisco Bay from this ferry and get a new perspective of the city. You can grab lunch onboard or before boarding and bring it with you.

Alcatraz Island
No longer an island prison, you can now tour this former prison facility by taking a ferry from Pier 33. Advance tickets are recommended to be sure you can take the tour when you want to.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things to see and do in the San Francisco area. We can't hope to cover everything, but this gives you a start. Have fun on your San Francisco vacation!

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