If you’re heading to LA, why not take a 1 hour flight to San Francisco?!
This vibrant city is a really popular destination for anyone travelling to the west coast of America.
I have a few friends who are going in Summer and I’m insanely jealous.
I was in San Fran last August and I’m dying to go again!!
It’s one of those places where you can visit all year round, However each season has it’s positives and negatives.
With the weather – you have to remember that as San Francisco is surrounded by partly ocean and bay, it can never be 100% accurate.
The city is known to have fog blankets in the Summer months because the hot air from the inland rises and the heavier cold ocean air rushes in to replace it which makes fog. Basically fog is made up of tiny droplets of water that float suspended in the air. The reason the ocean is cold in the Summer time, is because the current comes from the south and brings all that cold water from Alaska.
However, never fear! Fog isn’t an every-day occurrence and you’re bound to get some stunning pictures of the bridge at some stage.
- December – February is winter time in America, so if you don’t mind the cold weather you’ll save money on accommodation prices as hotels usually slash their rates.
- March – May: Spring Time! Maybe not a good time for any swimming activities but it’s known to be the driest time of the year.
- June – August: As it’s coming into Summer Time, this is the busiest time of year. It doesn’t get as hot as places like Los Angeles or San Diego but it’s still warm and there’s plenty of activities going on.
- September – November: I’ve read it’s actually warmer in these months compared to the Summer time. You can expect highs of 18-22 Degrees in the daytime, but it gets a bit nippy at night so pack a sweatshirt just in case! In September they have the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival so I’d be tempted to go just for that!
Where To Stay
There’s some great places to choose from in San Francisco. If you’ve saved up a bit of money there’s many hotels in the center of town. Travelling solo? They have decent priced hostels.
If you’re keen to stay at an Air b’n’b they’ve got lots of unique apartments and houses to book too.
The St Regis has glowing reviews on Tripadvisor. It’s a luxury hotel though, so prices in August are around $700+ a night if you can afford that.
You’ll be treated with High-Speed internet access, A butler (for an extra price), Bathrooms with Tv’s in them, an Indoor infinity pool and a Fitness center to keep you in shape.
In the middle of Union Square lies The Inn. This boutique hotel is around $250+ a night (depending on time of year) and boasts 30 comfortable rooms with Room Service, Complimentary Evening Wine and Cheese and access to a nearby Health Club & Pool for an extra fee. Check out their website for a look at their ‘packages’ they offer.
Clean and cheap and located in Union Square, Park Hotel is close to Chinatown and The Financial District. They sometimes do deals on their website for ‘Rooms Under $100’. If you’re just after a place to stay that’s close to everything and has free Wi-Fi then this is the hotel for you. Some rooms you share a bathroom with other guests so just keep that in mind if you like more of your own space. Tip: Book a room on the higher floor for less street noise.
Hostelling International is a chain of hostels around the world that guarantee good quality, safe accommodation at affordable prices.
San Francisco has HI hostels in Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf and Downtown San Fran (the most popular)
Book your room and choose to bunk with other people with either 4 bedded female, male or mixed gender dorms available. Some of the dorms have an en-suite bathroom otherwise you share bathrooms in the hallway.
If you still want the fun of staying at a hostel but don’t want to share a room, then you can book a Private room for extra $$
Voted SF’s #1 Party Hostel, Green Tortoise Hostel is open 24 hours a day and has many activities for a chance to meet other people and save some money.
You’ll get free breakfast every day served in the big ball room, Free dinner 3x a week and a fully-equipped kitchen to make your own meals.
I stayed at this hostel for my stay in San Fran and I enjoyed it. They have events like ‘Awesome Foursome’ where you put your name down to go to four fancy North Beach restaurants for shared appetizers, drinks and desert for only $10 each. ‘Free Mexican Night’, Play beer pong and Flip Cup in the ‘Beer Olympics’ or go clubbing with free champagne after an organised cheap Thai dinner and $3 beers.
The 2016 Winner of ‘Most Popular Hostel’ – USA Hostels is another chain of Hostels around America. I’ve only stayed at the one they have in Hollywood (which I thought was great) but the one in SF is really well-known too. They’re located only three blocks away from Union Square and really close to Chinatown and Japantown. The dorm rooms have ‘privacy pods’ featuring a shelf, reading light and power outlet otherwise you can book a private room with your own TV, mini fridge, microwave, hair dryer, free towels and en-suite bathroom.
The headquarters for Air b’n’b are actually in San Francisco. The founders of Air B’n’b were room-mates Chesky and Gebbia who lived in SF and couldn’t afford the rent for their loft so they made their living room into a bed and breakfast, accommodating three guests on air mattresses and providing homemade breakfast’s for them. Now Air b’n’b is a multi-million dollar company which allows people to list, find, and rent vacation homes online. You can find some real bargains on the website with room’s beginning at only $32 a night.
What To Do!
Take a tour – If you only have a few days to spare, or you’re travelling by yourself, as a couple or with children, I recommend taking a day tour. I did one with Dylans Tours and I can’t recommend them enough! A small group of us were driven around the well-known neighborhoods in San Francisco while our tour guide explained the history and the best places to eat. I learnt so much just from him talking!
We also got to stop at Twin Peaks, Muir Woods and drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. They have 3 different types of tours ranging from USD$59 – $129 per person so check out their website for more info 🙂 (and no – they didn’t pay me to say this)
Golden Gate Bridge – Being the most famous and photographed bridge in the world, you have to at least drive, walk or bike across it. A pedestrian walkway allows people to cross on foot otherwise you can hire a bike and pedal along the western side. You can’t rent bikes at the bridge but you can from Blazing Saddles for USD$8+ per hour.
Visit Fisherman’s Wharf – Home to Pier 39, Fisherman’s wharf has some of the best dining in San Francisco.
Head to Bubba Gump Shrimp Company for a ‘Mama Blue’s Shrimp Gumbo’ or order the ‘Jambalaya’ made with Blackened Chicken, Shrimp, Andouille Sausage, Bell Pepper, Onions and Rice in Bubba’s own Spicy Sauce.
Head to the Boudin Bakery to take a tour of the Museum and Bakery. For only $3 per person you can stroll through the collection of historic and interactive exhibits as you observe the bakery in action from the museum’s floor-to-ceiling window walls and glass-walled catwalk.
Got a sweet tooth? There’s a Ben’n’Jerrys and The Original Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory on the corner of Larkin Street for you to indulge with an ice-cream sundae.
Last but not least, visit the adorable Sea Lions lying on the floats at the PIER 39 Marina.
Head here to read about all the monthly events happening at Fisherman’s wharf.
Union Square – If you’re staying near Union Square then you’re in the perfect place to go shopping, eat and explore. Six department stores sit within the three block radius of Union Square, including Neiman Marcus and men’s & women’s branches of Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Barneys New York.
There’s also Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom nearby with the very popular Westfield San Francisco Centre on nearby Market Street.
Chinatown – On Bush St. and Grand Ave is Chinatown. Walk through the Dragon Gates and immerse yourself in the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. It’s quite touristy with many store selling cheap souvenirs and expensive art work but it’s a great experience. Make sure you check out the Fortune Cookie Factory while you’re there.
Lombard Street – San Francisco’s crookedest street is something you have to see. You can either walk up it or try and drive up it like the locals do. If not for the curves easing out this treacherous slope, people could be killed rolling down it. Some of San Francisco’s most expensive houses are on Lombard Street and many have been the setting for movies and TV shows. Check it out while you’re in North Beach, Chinatown or Fisherman’s Wharf as it’s only in walking distance.
California Academy Of Sciences –
For $34.95 (adult price) check out this awesome Science Museum located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
Learn about Earthquakes, The Philippine Coral Reef, California Coast, Rain forests and the new Twilight Zone. They have a food court there if you want to have lunch but it gets quite busy around lunch time so may be best to bring a snack. There’s lectures and workshops on certain days so have a look at their website if you want to attend.
Exploratorium – If you quite like your museums and The California Academy of Science isn’t quite enough, head to the Exploratorium at Pier 15. They’re open every day apart from Sunday’s and have a 18+ night on Thursdays. They have a ‘Tinkering Gallery’ where you can make creative contraptions that sends marbles through tubes and tunnels or have fun with Light, Vision and Sound in the Bechtel Central Gallery.
Alcatraz Island –Alcatraz Island is the home to some of America’s most notorious criminals – well it used to be anyways. Now you can book tickets and take a ferry across to spend 2 hours exploring the old federal penitentiary prison.The official site to book your tickets is here. Make sure you book them before you arrive in San Francisco otherwise you’ll end up along with 50 other people lining up on the day hoping to get a spare ticket.
Painted Ladies – This is more of a photo stop as you’d have seen these old Victorian houses in plenty of movies but most famously in the TV show Full House. Between the years of 1849 and 1915, about 48,000 houses in the Victorian and Edwardian styles were built in San Francisco which were painted in bright colors to accentuate their architectural details. San Francisco’s Hop on/Hop Off tour stops here at Alamo Square.
Where to get drunk
I was in San Francisco for nearly a week and didn’t go out clubbing once.
I know what’s you’re thinking, What’s wrong with me!?
My excuse was that San Francisco was the first stop on my round-the-world trip. I was so busy exploring during the day I’d be extremely tired by night time adjusting to the time difference and being on my feet all day. I was saving all my energy for my Contiki Tour I was about to embark on!
However, I’ve taken the time to research 6 of the best night time hot spots in San Francisco judged by other websites and the locals. Let me know in the comments if you’ve been!
Infusion Lounge – Union Square
Famous for their DJ’s and performing acts, Infusion Lounge is the perfect place to dance the night away. If you Sign up on the Infusion Lounge guest list you get FREE ENTRY when you arrive before 11pm otherwise it’s a $20 entry fee. They do Happy Hour between 6pm-8pm with $6 wines and $4 beers.
They also do dinner from 6pm – 9pm with a menu of Grilled Chicken Pesto Sliders, Grilled Salmon and Pan Seared Skirt Steak.
Heading to SF for a Bachelorette or birthday Party? Contact the manager here and book a VIP table decorated with balloons, Vodka, Champagne and your own VIP host.
Burritt Room + Tavern – Mystic Hotel
If you’re looking to have some food while you sip on a Craft Cocktail, this is the place. The menu has a 1920’s feel with old-fashioned cocktails and classic cocktails. The dinner list is created by Le Cordon Bleu Chef Lucas Knox and includes dishes of Steamed Mussels, Cherry Studded Chicken Thigh Roulade and a Sourdough Pancakes with Spiced Pork Belly Crackling.
The ultimate place to party if you know how!
With 3 bars, The Mezzanine has live music, DJs and live performances from some of the newest, most talented artists in music. Get hot and sweaty on the huge dance floor or book an event in the VIP area upstairs with indoor/outdoor flow. Dress code is strict so no active wear, baseball caps or overly baggy clothes.
Trick Dog Bar
A Trendy hangout in a converted warehouse with an array of craft cocktails & eclectic small plates. Locals love the friendly staff, delicious unique cocktails and rustic feel.
Order drinks such as the Loch Ness ‘Monster’ made with Rum, Whiskey, lemon curd and cream sherry. Or take a sip of the Chupacabra mixed with Tequila, Bonal Quina, Carrot, Lime and yogurt whey.
The View Lounge
If you want some of the best views of San Francisco at night, head to the top of the San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel. I went here with a couple I met on my trip and the view was beautiful. The drinks are slightly pricey ($14-$16 for cocktails) but if you want a romantic night i’d defiantly head here for drinks and nibbles. They don’t do big main meals but they provide little bites like Meatloaf Sliders and Cheese Plates.
Marrakech Magic Theatre
Now this isn’t really a place to get drunk and dance the night away, it’s a Magic & Comedy Club. I had to put it on here as everyone seems to rave about it.
Shows are from Thursday – Sunday with 6.30pm and 9pm time slots.
You can purchase tickets online (Click the link above) for USD$45
If you arrive an hour early, there’s drinks and appetizers available and sometimes you can meet the magicians before they perform. You know how you go to some magic shows and they’re really tacky and you know their tricks? Well this place isn’t like that. They get the crowd involved and you’ll leave the place wondering how on earth they did half the things they did!
Have you been to San Francisco?
Let me know in the comments below your favorite things to do or places to go!