Is San Francisco Worth Visiting - A view of the Gloden Gate Bridge

Is San Francisco Worth Visiting? Reasons To Visit & Things To Do 2023

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Wondering if San Francisco is worth visiting?

Wondering if San Francisco is worth visiting? As a local, I am compelled to say 100% YES. San Francisco captivated my heart almost 40 years ago, and I never left! 

San Francisco is nestled into the Northern California coast line and has a mesmerizing beauty that I never tire of. Looking at the city with its beautiful colors against the backdrop of hills and the water is honestly breathtaking.

Not only does this city have the most iconic bridge in the world, incredibly picturesque landscapes, and a highly diverse culture, it has a creative, and progressive spirit that you won’t find elsewhere.  All this in a small city only 7 miles long by 7 miles wide!

Is San Francisco Worth Visiting?

In my opinion, putting San Francisco on your bucket list is a top priority. San Francisco weaves together fascinating history with a modern feel that make it a great vacation destination for couples, families, or a friend trip.

Experiencing the landscape, architecture, music and food makes it worth it alone! But also remembering the significant things that have happened in San Francisco which have helped to shape the rest of the country such as the Gold Rush, the 1960’s summer of love revolution, Silicon Valley, and the LGBTQ progress, is worth any traveler’s time.

Is San Francisco worth visiting? Carrie sipping a drink
Is San Francisco Worth visiting? Cable Car at sunset

Quick & Easy Links

  Flights & Hotels: I recommend Expedia
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  Tours: I recommend Viator
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  Create Your Travel Memory Books with MILK

22 Reasons San Francisco Is Worth Visiting & Best Things To Do

San Francisco is famous for being a melting pot of cultures. The diversity of the neighborhoods is a huge part of its charm.

You can experience the beauty of the Bay at Fisherman’s wharf, the Pacific Ocean beaches on the west coast, the historic streets of Chinatown, the vibrant art of the Mission District, and the upscale boutiques of Union Square, and more and more and more!

Golden Gate Bridge

#1 Walk Across The Golden Gate Bridge

You can’t visit San Francisco without spending time on its prize feature, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Truly awe-inspiring, this symbol of the city, and of the country, is worth a visit to drive across, walk on, bike over, sail underneath, and take photos of.

Walk all or part of the 1.7 miles of the Golden Gate Bridge. to fully experience this majestic marvel.

There’s a Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center on the San Francisco side of the bridge that is open daily 9AM -6PM for information, souvenirs, and bathrooms!

The Round House coffee shop below the bridge’s entrance in the Presidio, is also a great spot for souvenirs, bathrooms, and hot cocoa or coffee.

There are FREE walking tours on the bridge every Thursday and Sunday. Check out for schedules.

If you’re driving across the bridge, southbound, into the city from Sausalito, be prepared to get a bill for $9.75 unless you have a FastPass account which will charge you $8.75 to cross. (Just for some perspective it cost $2.00 when I first moved here!)

The  Golden Gate Bridge was built in four years, at the time of the Great Depression, and was finished in 1937. At the time, it was not only the tallest and longest suspension bridge in the world, it was seen as a symbol of American ingenuity and perseverance.

And just on the other side of the bridge, is the famous Cavallo Point, former miltary base and now luxury hotel, spa, and Michelin Star restaurant!

Here are some Golden Gate Bridge Fun Facts:

~ The bridge’s engineer and designer Joseph Strauss had to join the city in raising the 35 million to build the bridge.

~ 10 workers died in the construction when a scaffold fell in February 1937, before the bridge’s opening in May 1937.

~ The paint color is called International Orange and was created just for the bridge.

~ Its called a 7th wonder of the modern world.

~ Its the most photographed bridge in the world.

~ 40 million cars cross the bridge each year.

~ The bridge is constantly being painted to protect the steel from the sea salt in the air.

#2 Do all the things to do at Fisherman’s Wharf


From the San Francisco Ferry Building all the way to Ghiradelli Square is the beautiful Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf. Enjoy the water, the people watching, and all the great food along the way. Here are some highlights:

~ Visit the Harbor Seals at Fisherman’s Wharf – Harbor seals started coming to a dock at Pier 39 after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Initially, there were only about 10 and today about 900 seals show up in the winter! It’s super fun to watch them swim and soak up the sun. You’ll find them at Pier 39’s K-dock.

~ Play, Shop, & Eat at Pier 39 – Pier 39 is a multilevel tourist attraction by the water. You’ll find all kinds of street performers, can watch  puppet shows, take a carousel ride, dine, shop, and enjoy Bay views.

~ Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum – This is a great activity for a break from chilly weather or the crowds in the tourist shops. This spot is a famous SF activity. You’ll find all of your favorite wax celebrities. Find presidents, and all the top musicians and athletes.

→ Get your Madame Tussad’s Tickets here!

~ Tour Ghirardelli Square – Originating in the Gold Rush in 1849, this spot is now a National Historic Site and is one of San Francisco’s most precious landmarks. The chocolate is now made across the bay in San Leandro, but Ghirardelli Square has the old factory history with retail shops and dining spots.

~ Have clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl at Boudin Bakery– You’ve got to do this! You’ll have to wait in line, but if you aren’t gluten or lactose intolerant, then its worth it! Boudin is known as the best sourdough bakery in San Francisco. They’ve been baking sourdough since the Gold Rush! Look for bread animals and heart loaves, but definitely try some chowder inside a sourdough bowl.

Pier 39 Flags
The view of Alcatraz Island while on a San Francisco Sunset Cruise

#3 Take a Cruise to the famous Alcatraz Island Prison

The 22 acre island, now operated by the National Park Service, used to be the infamous prison. You can take a boat from the pier and tour the island to learn more of the fascinating history surrounding Alcatraz. Its fun for the boat ride and the tour of the prison, but its a bit pricey, so if you just want a boat ride, then take a sunset cruise instead!

Sutro Bath one day in San Francisco

#4 Take a Walk on Ocean Beach

I love to take all my touring guests to Ocean Beach because you can dip your toes in the cold Pacific Ocean in one of the best cities in the world. 

This is not a beach with the warmest water, but it’s a 3 mile stretch of beautiful coastline.

To the south you’ll see the cliff-like coast and its flanked on the north end with the famous Seal Rock, Cliff House, and the Golden Gate Recreation area of Sutro Baths.

People used to come here to soak in the baths and play games and dine at the Cliff House. Now, its a great spot for experienced surfers and dogs running and playing. 

Important safety tip!!! This is NOT a swimming beach because of intense and dangerous rip currents. Dip your toes, but don’t let your kids go wading or swimming. 

It’s easy parking all along the beach. There’s nothing like listening to waves and seagulls to help relax and enjoy the salt air.

You’ll see some black sand due to magnetite particles, lots of birds, and shells. You can walk in the dunes near the Great Highway, or just hang out on an urban beach.

Then have a great meal across from the beach at The Beach Chalet, which is actually one of my favorite spots for a drink and lunch. There’s an interesting Beach Chalet Visitor Center and the restaurant has excellent views and really good food.

Is San Francisco worth visiting - A view from Fort Funston
Is San Francsco worth visiitng. Birds at the pier

#5 Watch Hang Gliders and take a Horseback Ride on the Beach at Fort Funston

Fort Funston is not on most people’s lists, and yet it’s just a five minute drive from Ocean Beach. I always take my visitors here because it provides a special experience of views and beach walks.

Fort Funston is a former military installation and part of the National Parks Conservatory. The bluffs above the beach offer views and dog friendly trails. And the hike down to the beach is beautiful.

Known as a tremendously windy spot, it is famous for hang gliders to launch. You can watch them as they take off and fly over the ocean before you hike down to the beach where you can stroll or horseback ride from the close by Mar Vista Stable.

#6 Take a Cable Car Ride

Please don’t come to San Francisco and not take a cable car!!! You have many choices, but I recommend that you get take the Powell/Hyde cable car from Ghiradelli Square to Chinatown. 

You’ll see the long line for the cable car at the end of Fisherman’s Wharf. Get your ticket for $7 and wait for the next car.

Try to get an outside seat and hang on and enjoy the hills. You can hop off at Chinatown for some more shopping and great food or continue to the last stop at Market Street. 

Cable Car One Day In San Francisco
Bartender at the Buena Vista makinng Irish Coffee

#7 Drink Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista

You don’t have to like Irish Whiskey to enjoy the famous Buena Vista Irish Coffee experience. DIrectly across from the Cable Car turn around at Ghiradelli Square is the famous Buena Vista.

Pop in and watch the magic as the bartender brews up the coffee. It’s so delicious, you’ll want more than one! Order the fries too, for a midday treat.

Irish Coffee at The Buena Vista
The Buena Vista

#8 Do all the things to do in Golden Gate Park

A star feature of San Francisco has to be the pristine Golden Gate Park. Since 1894, the over 1000 acres of green space, gardens, meadows, lakes, and museums have welcomed residents and visitors.

The park spans from the iconic Haight Ashbury neighborhood all the way to the beach. It’s filled with so much to see and do, you could stay busy for days. 

I always recommend start at the Music Concourse. And then…

~ The Japanese Tea Garden – This 3.5 acre garden is the oldest of its kind in the country with perfectly groomed plants and trees in the tradition of Japan’s finest gardens. There are even koi fish in the pond!

~ The De Young Museum – We have a membership to this museum because throughout the year are fabulous exhibits and the permanent collection is outstanding! Always a good choice. 

~ The Academy of Sciences – This is a must if you want to explore the live green roof, see an albino alligator, and lots of cool fish and exhibits.

~ The Conservatory of Flowers – This is one of San Francisco’s oldest and most cherished Victorian Buildings and surrounding gardens. Built in 1879, it has a plethora of flowers and plants, and butterflies.

~ The Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum – This garden is over 55 acres and conserves over 8000 plants from all over the world.

~ Aids Memorial Grove – This living memorial to all the people who have died of AIDS is a lovely place to reflect,pay tribute, and not forget the suffering from the AIDS epidemic.

~ Bison Paddock – Surprise! Since 1892 there has been a small herd of Bison living in the park. They are taken care of by the San Francisco Zoo.

~ Rose Garden – This is a personal favorite. The array of variety of roses is stunning and its just a lovely place to roam through.

~ Koret Carousel– Known as the first children’s playground in the country. Since 1888 the Koret Playground has been dedicated to the children of the park and in 1914, a special Herschell-Spillman Company Carousel was built and still stands today

~ The Windmills – Where the park meets the ocean, you’ll find two Dutch Windmills that were installed to pump water into the park and irrigate the gardens. Now they are a great spot for photos and tulip gardens. Best time to catch the flowers is in March.

Lombard St one day in San Francisco

#9 Wind Down Lombard Street

I’m sure you’ve heard of Lombard Street as the “crookedest street in the world.” Yes, it’s a wacky tourist attraction, with an interesting history.

In the 1920’s, the San Francisco streets were so steep that  the landowners created a wildly curvy street for cars to maneuver. A chance photo of curvy Lombard Street ended up on a postcard in 1961 when the hydrangeas were in full bloom.

And just like that, the street became one of San Francisco’s most popular tourist spots.

Take a drive or a walk down it as part of your visit. It’s a fun photo op!

Haight Ashbury One Day In San Francisco

#10 Revisit the Summer of Love in Haight Ashbury

The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood is synonymous with the hippie counterculture of the 1960’s.

Now the neighborhood has gentrified a bit, the victorian homes are beautiful and costly, and the vintage boutique shops are hip and trendy.

You’ll still find a vibe unique to this part of town and funky book stores and “head shops.” You can enjoy the strip and its historic significance, while being safe as its a busy area with locals and tourists throughout the day.

San Francisco Victorians

#11 Shop and Eat in Chinatown

San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia! Reportedly about 15,000 people live in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

The streets from Stockton and Grant cover about 24 square blocks and are filled with shops, restaurants, and apartments.

Enter at the famous Dragon Gate on Grant Ave and start roaming. Look for Portsmouth Plaza which is one of the only open areas of the neighborhood where you’ll see people doing Tai Chi and playing chess.

Pro Tip: Parking is NOT easy so be sure to walk in from downtown, take a cable car, or public transportation.

Dine at Sam Wo, 713 Clay St., the oldest restaurant in Chinatown, founded in 1908.

The restaurant has always been a no-frills, late night dining experience with signs like “No Booze … No Jive, No Coffee, Milk, Soft Drinks, Fortune Cookies.”  The famous people of San Francisco would dine there until 3AM.

The restaurant was also made famous by Edsel Ford Fung, the “rudest waiter in the world.” He would be mean to the customers if they complained or if he didn’t like what they wore. It became the restaurant’s humorous gimmick. Even after Fung’s passing in 1984, customers (including me!) continued to flock to the restaurant to be insulted and abused by the wait staff!

The famous Washington St. restaurant was closed in 2012 due to health code violations but by 2015 the dedicated community rallied and raised funds so the restaurant could reopen in its current location at 713 Clay St.

Chinatown One Day In San Francisco

#12 Discover the Beat Generation and Eat Italian in North Beach

The Italian-American culture of North Beach makes it one of the best parts of San Francisco. There’s so much history in this neighborhood and coupled with the charm of the streets, it’s a perfect place to roam for a bit and to enjoy  in the evening for some nightlife culture.

Stop at the famous Beat Generation City Lights Book Store, have a coffee at Cafe Vesuvio next door, take pics in the alley, and climb the Filbert Steps up to Coit Tower for some awesome views.

But mostly, be sure to stop and eat!! You can’t go wrong at any of the restaurants in North Beach. You’ll love the trattorias, pastries, and street decorations. It’s like being in Europe except its hip San Francisco!

Is San Francisco Worth Visiting - North Beach neighborhood
North Beach San Francisco Italian flag painted buildings
Coit Tower and Salesforce Tower while on a San Francisco Sunset Cruise

#13 Tour The Mission District Murals

Not only is the Mission District famous for its amazing Mexican food, world renowned musicians, and street festivals, but it is the center of some of the most brilliant, colorful, and powerful murals in the world.

The Mission District Murals in San Francisco portray social injustices, political issues, cultural themes, and are street art at its finest. It changes frequently so you can keep going back for more! Get my guide to the Mission Street Murals Here.

Mission District Murals in San Francisco
Mission District Murals in San Francisco

#14 Experience the Views from Pacific Heights

Take a stroll through the Pacific Heights neighborhoods for a feel of the posh and gorgeous architecture from the late 1800’s. There are parks, and remarkable views throughout.

You can see the famed and historic, French Classical Spreckels Mansion on Washington St. owned by Danielle Steel. Then take a tour the gorgeous and historic Victorian home, the Haas-Lilienthal House on Franklin St.

#15 Check Out the Famous Castro District

The Castro is a great neighborhood to visit on your trip because it has tons of great shops, restaurants, and bars, and the Famous Castro Theater.

It’s also world famous for being the first “gay” neighborhood. In the 1960’s and 1970”s, The Castro district became a safe haven for the gay culture in San Francisco and around the world. It’s home to the biggest Gay Pride parade, the best Halloween celebrations, and has been  always prominent in the LGBTQ movement.

#16 Climb the Stairs of San Francisco

 San Francisco is obviously known for its hills. Its always a great workout when traipsing around the city!

Part of the charm of these hills is that sometimes you can’t climb them without marching up a ton of stairs. There are over 670 sets of staircases in the San Francisco!

Many of them have been refurbished, renovated, and decorated by the community of people who use them the most.  Here are just nine of the most colorful, artistic, and fun steps to experience. 

~ 16th Avenue Mosaic Steps – At Moraga Street between 15th and 16th Avenues. 163 steps in all. Designed by tile artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher, these are the most famous of SF’s steps.

~ Hidden Garden Steps – At 15th Avenue between Kirkham and Lawton Streets. 148 steps in all. Also tiled magnificently and very close to the 16th St. beauties.

~ Lyon St. Steps – At Lyon St. and Broadway in Pacific Heights. 300 steps. Stunning gardens and views from the posh neighborhood. 

~ Tompkins Stairway – At Tompkins Avenue between Nevada and Putnam Streets. 66 steps. A tiled rainbow design inspired by the Steps to Peace created by Syrian students.

~ The Lincoln Steps – At 32nd Avenue between California Street and the Lincoln Park Golf Course in Sea Cliff -52 steps. Tile design also by the famed Aileen Barr.

~ Esmeralda Stairs – At 101 Coleridge St in Bernal Heights- 260 steps. Best part of this three section staircase are the slides that take you back down on the Winfield Street Slide section. 40 foot long slides make it a super fun adventure!

~ Saturn and Vulcan Steps – Above the Castro and Above the Haight between Ord  and Levant Streets, near 17th Street. These are personal favorites because I lived in this neighborhood when I first moved to San Francisco!

~ Filbert St Steps and Greenwich St Steps – At Sansome and Filbert or Battery and Greenwich. Over 500 steps. These two staircases lead up to Coit Tower through the famous Telegraph Hill. Charming homes and gardens along the way and views of the Bay unlike any other spot in the city.

~ Macondray Lane At Leavenworth and Taylor Streets in Russian Hill- These wooden stairs were made famous by Armistead Maupin, Tales of the City, and wind through a charming hidden neighborhood and garden.

Filbert Steps of Telegraph Hill
Tiled 16th St Steps inSan Francisco
View from the Greenwich St Steps in San Francisco

#17 Enjoy the Presidio National Park

The Presidio is known as some of the most beautiful property in the whole country.

It’s now a National Park but was formerly an Army Base. It’s a splendid area of hiking trails, magnificent views of the Golden Gate, and old officer’s housing and even a Disney Museum.

I love to take visitors driving through the Eucalyptus groves and stop at the overlook spots.

#18 Visit the San Francisco Zoo

Are you a fan of zoos? Then you’ll enjoy the SF Zoo. It’s in a great spot by the ocean, an there are fabulous exhibits all year long. Who doesn’t like watching penguins swim around or see the lions being fed?

Painted Ladies in San Francisco

#19 Don’t Miss The Painted Ladies at Alamo Square

San Francisco is known for its magnificent Victorian and Edwardian homes throughout the city.

The most famous row of these is across from Alamo Square Park on Steiner Street #710 – 720. These “Seven Sisters” on “Postcard Row” are called The Painted Ladies.

Painting victorian homes in bright colors started in the “colorist movement” of the 1960’s when a San Francisco artist, Butch Kradum, decided to paint his home in bright colors.

The term was coined in the 1970’s from a book Painted Ladies: San Francisco’s Resplendent Victorians by Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen.

You can find painted ladies all over the city, they’re part of what makes San Francisco so colorful!

#20 So Many Art Museums, So Little Time!

You must know by now that Im a huge art museum fan and am so happy to live where we have access to some of the nicest museums in the world. Some of my SF favs:

~ The De Young – This is an eclectic fine arts museum in Golden Gate Park. A truly great permanent collection and outstanding exhibits. The De Young and Palace of Legion of Honor are sister museums. You can get a two for one museum ticket and you can enter for FREE after 4:30. 

~ The Legion of Honor – My favorite of all San Francisco museums. The architecture and location alone makes it worth going, but the Rodins are absolutley sublime.

~ SF MoMa – This is another favorite museum of modern art. I love it because it is small enough to see the permanent collection and current exhibits without feeling overwhelmed or pressed for time.

~ Asian Art– This is quite a treat if you like Asian art. With over 18000 pieces and some more than 6000 years old. This is one of San Francisco’s prize museums.

Palace of Fine Arts  San Francisco
The Castro Theater San Francisco
The Fairmont at Christmas

#21 Plan on Theater, Music, Ballet, Opera, or Jazz Performances

This is a tough call because there are so many choices. San Francisco is home to some of the world’s most  talented musicians, dancers, actors, and singers in the world. While planning your trip consider getting tickets for Broadway Theater productions, the San Francisco Ballet, the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Opera, or San Francisco Jazz concerts. These beautiful performance spaces are in the Civic Center neighborhood near the magnificent City Hall.

#22 San Francisco is a Culinary Heaven!

One of the main reasons San Francisco is worth visiting is becasue of its food! The foodie scene is huge and diverse and so much fun. Take your pick from California Cuisine to Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, and everything in between. Here are just a few favorites:

~ Restaurant Gary Danko – Fisherman’s Wharf -Michilin rated, French cuisine, sourced with local ingrediants. This is a special ocassion kind of place, prix fix, 3 – 5 course selection. Totally worth every penny. Its kind of like going to the symphony, the art museum, and the opera in one meal!

~ Kaiyo – Cow Hollow on Union St., or the rooftop of the Hyatt in Soma – A combination of Peruvian and Japanese cultures with exquisite tastes. I keep going back annd love everything I have tried. It’s reasonably priced as SF restaurants go.

~ Tosca Cafe – North Beach – An iconic fixture in the Italian neighborhood with legendary food and great atmosphere.

Meal in San Francisco
Food in San Francisco
Pizza in San Francisco

* Bonus Activities just outside of San Francisco

~ Visit Muir Woods, home of the giant Redwoods in a magical National Monument Park in Mount Tamalpais just over the Golden Gate Bridge .

~Take a hike! I have many hikes to recommend, but start here with the Dipsea Trail hike near Muir Woods.

~ Spend some time in Northern California’s famous Wine Country.

~ Short on time? Here is a great one day in San Francisco itinerary.

Golden Gate Bridge One Day In San Francisco

Best Time To Visit San Francisco

I have one word – microclimates! When thinking about the weather and packing, be prepared with layers of layers.

As a local, I’m gonna say that the best time to visit San Francisco is August – November. Not only do the crowds die down, but the weather is typically better than in the summer.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t come whenever you can! Just know that San Francisco is not always “sunny” like its Southern California neighbors.

If its raining, I’ve got you covered with rainy day activities in San Francisco.

* Other times to consider are coming for big events!

~ The Bay To Breakers is the most outrageous run/walk race from the Bay all the way to the beach. Its a 12K on the 3rd Sunday every May. Its a wild time!

~ Outside Lands is a huge music and food festival in Golden Gate Park every August with big name acts and lots of festival vibe! 

~ Opera in the Park Every September you can see FREE opera in Golden Gate Park.

~ Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is a FREE and huge music festival the first weekend of October each year in Golden Gate Park 

~ Comedy Day is absolutely the best FREE event you can find! Top comedians grace the Golden Gate Park Music Concourse stage and make a crowd laugh for hours. (One of my best memories is of seeing Robin Williams perform when I first moved to SF, and just happened to wander into the park that day!)

~ See the Monarch Butterflies in November – early December!

Carrie at the Legion of Honor Museum

Getting Around San Francisco

One of my few complaints about San Francisco is the getting around part. There’s plenty of public transportation, bus, MUNI, cable cars, but most people don’t find it super easy or smooth.

I’ve always felt it a bit confusing… A local who relies on these systems to get around used these words,  “sketchy, overpriced, and slow,”  so here goes:

Public Transportation

BART or the Bay Area Rapid Transit is  rail system that transports people from the East Bay and Peninsula in and out of the city. So, its really for commuters and doesn’t get you around in the city.

MUNI or the Municipal Transit Agency  includes: buses, electric bus trolleys, light rail trains, and the historic cable cars and street cars that San Francisco is famous for. This is the best bet for getting around the city. The MuniMobile App is the best way to plan your route and pay for your tix. You can get a 3 day visitor Pass on Muni Mobile for $31.

Taxi & Uber & Lyft & Driverless Cars!

Uber and Lyft are San Francisco based companies and now we have driverless cars as well! So, while taxi companies still exist, the ride share apps are easy and are my preferred and recommended mode of transportation in the city.

If you can walk, great, but if you need a drop off/ pick up arrangement, then use your Uber or Lyft app. 

Why? Becasue it’s practical and will save you time and energy. I’m a big believer in stress free vacations. If the goal is to get to where you are going vs navigating your way on a confusing public transport system, then I opt for the Uber.

It’s safe and practical, especially if you are a whole family. Instead of paying per person for tickets, you all hop in one vehicle for the same price.

I don’t know anyone who has ridden in a driverless vehicle just yet, but I guarantee you’ll see them as you tour around the city. It’s a little weird, for sure!

Rental Car

I only recommend renting a car if you plan on taking day trips out of the city. Its too much of a hassle to park  in the city and honestly, if you aren’t used to driving on the hills and stopping at those steep stops on an incline, then you won’t really like it!

Golden Gate Bridge One day in San Francisco

Where To Stay In San Francisco

San Francisco has no shortage of hotels, big chains, little inns, B&B’s, and vacation rentals galore. (FYI, Airbnb, is another San Francisco based company.)

I’ve chosen to share with you my recommendations for boutique hotels. I’m choosing this style hotel because I think it reflects the vibe and image of the city. A small boutique hotel will likely give you a feel for the city that a big chain hotel will miss. 

These are all in great neighborhoods and have 5 star reviews. 

➡️ Best Bargain Boutique Hotel In San Francisco
The Hotel Triton

Right in the heart of Union Square and at the base of Chinatown is this fabulous, eclectic hotel with local art, unique rooms and fun vibe. Known for great service, awesome location, and the best French restaurant in town, Cafe De La Presse.

➡️ Best Comfy Boutique Hotel in San Francisco
Hotel Zeppelin

This is a great bargain in the beautiful Nob Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. The Zeppelin features a celebration of the city’s avant garde era with a bold style. Known for being a comfy, funky, and affordable spot in a great location.

➡️ Best Mid Range Boutique Hotel in San Francisco
1 Hotel San Francisco (formerly Hotel Vitale)

In an excellent location, the 1 Hotel San Francisco is across from the Ferry Building and has views of the city skyline and the Bay. Known for its style with local and reclaimed natural materials and sustainably sourced linens.

➡️ Best Luxury Boutique Hotel in San Francisco
Hotel Drisco

This luxury boutique hotel sits at the top of San Francisco’s prized Pacific Heights neighborhood. A turn of the century, Edwardian style hotel is known for its beautiful decor, superb service, complimentary breakfasts and generous wine time.

San Francisco Bridge view
San Francisco marina

Visiting San Francisco: FAQs

Here are some answers to your burning frequently asked questions about San Francisco!

How many days should I visit San Francisco?

Most people find that a four day visit to San Francisco gives you enough time to see your preferred highlights without being too busy. If you have more time, then you can take a couple of day trips to Wine Country  or to Muir Woods for instance.

What is so special about San Francisco?

What is special about San Francisco is not only its iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and Fisherman’s Wharf, the fog, its Victorian architecture, but also its historic significance.

It’s the birthplace of liberal thinking, diversity and inclusion. It’s a favorite tourist town for a reason! There are a ton of great things to do here, its really breathtakingly beautiful,  and the people are great!

Is LA or San Francisco better for tourists?

Comparing LA to San Francisco is like comparing apples and oranges. The climates are drastically different. The architecture is like two separate planets, and the vibe of the people and culture in these two cities is totally separate. 

Go to LA  for warm weather, beach time, plan on lots of driving, going for some city jogs or hikes in Runyon Canyon, dressing up, spend money, do some shopping, and soak up some Hollywood culture. 

Go to San Francisco for more outdoor adventure activities, sail on the Bay, horseback ride by the ocean, very little car time, and wearing a jacket or sweater most of the time, and also spending  money, but you can stay in your casual clothes. 

Is San Francisco safe?

In general, San Francisco is said to have a low violent crime rate when compared to other metropolitan cities. That being said, petty thefts especially in tourist areas can be a problem, and just like any big city, San Francisco has neighborhoods that are not safe. You won’t be visiting them as a tourist, and all the neighborhoods and activities I have mentioned are in typically safe areas.

Sadly, San Francisco has become riddled with a significant homeless and drug problem, which makes certain areas feel unwelcoming and dangerous. For instance, Market Street near the theaters and shopping mall should be thriving tourist destinations, however, they are more uncomfortable and less desirable than they used to be. So, be cautious and wise. 

Take basic safety precautions:

~ Don’t carry a lot of cash.

~ Stay aware of your surroundings.

~ Keep valuables hidden and close to your body.

Catamaran cruise in the SF Bay

In a nutshell…

Is San Francisco Worth Visiting?

San Francisco’s allure lies in its ability to offer something for everyone. 

From its iconic landmarks, cultural diversity, to its stunning landscapes, and culinary delights, San Francisco is an enriching and exciting travel destination. Outdoor enthusiasts, tech lovers, history buffs, and families of all ages enjoy all the city has in store.

So, yes, San Francisco is undoubtedly worth visiting. Pack your bags and leave your heart in San Francisco!



Hi There! I’m Carrie.

Carrie Green-Zinn Bio Page

I’m a native New Englander, turned New Yorker, turned California girl! Following a dance career, working as a dance therapist, and being a school psychologist, I’m now ready to share my passion for photography and travel with you! I absolutely love seeing the world with my family and friends. I know you feel the same! Let’s go! 

A flat lay of MILK photo album travel books
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