Each district of San Francisco carries its own unique and distinct culture. This map is predominantly based on the 11 official governmental districts of San Francisco, but it has been adapted to suit the purposes of this travel guide. Some districts of particular interest to travellers have been broken up into popular neighborhood groupings, while others, mainly residential districts, have been merged together.
English is the dominant language spoken in San Francisco. [wiki=0a3f761ba7c50be32bd05b2934f97f03]Cantonese[/wiki] is spoken by the majority of San Francisco's large Chinese population, with an increasing [wiki=56ec9849ff5b9d83053da13b684059cf]Mandarin[/wiki]-speaking minority. [wiki=28c71a3b10dd30c5563c6c21b20144a6]Spanish[/wiki] is also commonly spoken in San Francisco, although not as common as in the rest of California.
San Francisco has much to see - these are just the most significant sights. For more detail see the individual district sections, often linked from this entry.
Two passes are available which offer discounts to many interesting attractions:
*San Francisco CityPASS [url=://www.powerglidertours.com [http://www.powerglidertours.com]url=http://www.citypass.com/san-francisco].]A relatively cheap and easy way to cover many attractions of the city is the CityPASS. For a fare of $84 for adults and $59 for children 5-12, you get admission to the California Academy of Sciences, a Blue and Gold Fleet bay cruise, the Aquarium of the Bay or the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the Exploratorium or the Legion of Honor and the de Young Museum (both must be visited on the same day). A CityPASS works for 9 consecutive days starting with the use of your first ticket (each ticket only accounts for one visit to each attraction). The pass also includes seven consecutive days of Cable Car and MUNI fares.
*[url=http://www.smartdestinations.com/san-francisco-attractions-and-tours/_d_Sfo-p1.html?pass=Sfo_Prod_Go&allInc=true]Go San Francisco Card[/url[/url] - An all-inclusive pass that lets you visit multiple San Francisco attractions for one price, starting at $60. You can save up to 55% on top museums, tours, and activities vs. paying at the gate. The pass is available in 1, 2, 3, 5, or 7 day increments, and includes admission to dozens of top San Francisco attractions including a Hop-On/Hop-Off Trolley Tour, the California Academy of Sciences, a Golden Gate Bay Cruise, and many more.
*Aerial tour if you are adventurous, you can see San Francisco from the air. There is a new modern power gilder at Palo Alto airport about 25minute south of San Francisco. You can see Stanford, get an idea of how long SLAC is, and be exposed to some of the most beautiful natural vistas. Check out power glider tours at palo alto airport[/url]
While San Franciso's economy is linked to it being a world-class tourist attraction, its economy is diversified. The largest employment sectors are professional services, government, finance, trade, and tourism. Its frequent portrayal in music, films, literature and popular culture has helped make the city and its landmarks known throughout the world. San Francisco has developed a large tourist infrastructure with numerous hotels, restaurants, and top-notch convention facilities.
While it's been a long time since people considered Montgomery Street in the [wiki=572db090b73dc1c754b71ee28271a245]Financial District[/wiki] to be the "Wall Street of the West", San Francisco remains one of the principal banking and finance centers of the west coast of the United States. Many major financial institutions and banks are based in the city or have set up regional headquarters here.
San Francisco's proximity to Silicon Valley has made the city increasingly attractive for high-tech companies. In recent years, San Francisco has also been making itself a center of biotechnology.
If you want it, chances are likely you can get it in San Francisco. There are a wide range of small and locally owned businesses throughout the city's neighborhoods; in fact, San Francisco has for the most part repelled the development of large chain retailers and big box stores that are common across America.
If it's tourist trinkets you're looking for, [wiki=2a35bb96e5c90c9e9bae72464fec4b86]Fisherman's Wharf[/wiki] has the typical souvenir, T-shirt, and camera shops, along with plenty of specialty stores. However, San Francisco's most popular shopping area is [wiki=572db090b73dc1c754b71ee28271a245]Union Square[/wiki], which has all the big national department stores (Macy's, Saks, Nordstrom, etc.) and plenty of fancy boutique stores, as well as a few shopping centers thrown in.
For small, upscale boutiques, Union Street, Hayes Street around Octavia, Fillmore Street around California street, and Chestnut Street in the [wiki=c3f63712f2ffb244eeeddaa98e55c101]Golden Gate[/wiki] area are lined with unique and trendy places, and all these streets are among the best spots in the city to window shop and nash. [wiki=a085a4b4dadff3f15fe5e4b6f0a689f8]Nob Hill[/wiki] is also full of specialty places.
But if you don't have a luxury dollar to spend and still want to walk away with something unique, there are plenty of shops in [wiki=39a8093f66fa688657186d6dec102c78]Chinatown[/wiki] for you, selling Oriental handicrafts of all descriptions, and no chain stores in sight. [wiki=1d9b1024179ec1480507018d6f773089]Japantown[/wiki] also offers plenty of great shops selling authentic souvenirs, including the excellent Kinokuniya Stationery/Bookstore. The [wiki=0a84616ab2e9e9648543a35c2a5b667e]Haight[/wiki] is full of excellent independent record and book stores, with Amoeba Music dominating the scene.
For basic supplies, try the ubiquitous 7-Eleven convenience stores and Walgreens pharmacies. If you need groceries, Safeway is the dominant supermarket chain in the city. There are Safeway stores in SoMa, near Fisherman's Wharf, and near the Financial District, but not near Union Square. The closest supermarket to Union Square is the upscale Bristol Farms supermarket at Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre.
San Francisco is a sensual, epicurean city with a vast array of restaurants. In fact, San Francisco has more restaurants per capita than any major city in North America, with 1 restaurant for every 250 residents (in comparison, New York City has 1 restaurant for every 940 residents). The price range is huge, and you can spend anywhere from a small fortune to a couple bucks for every type of cuisine. Vegetarians and vegans will find SF a paradise, however contrary to popular belief the city has one of the lowest rates of vegetarian consumers in the nation. Sushi is a local obsession, and though you can find a sushi bar on almost every street corner, the [wiki=d61287eac8fbb1ea6858fda828210a13]Richmond[/wiki] district has more than its fair share of excellent sushi chefs.
San Francisco is also one of the best places in the nation for Asian cuisine: Korean, Thai, Indian, Burmese, Japanese and, of course, Chinese. With the largest [wiki=39a8093f66fa688657186d6dec102c78]Chinatown[/wiki] in North America as well as one of the largest Chinese communities in the West, there are many exceptional restaurants serving dim sum and other Chinese delicacies found throughout the city. This localized Chinese cuisine has its feet in Hong Kong and America, and is different from what many visitors are accustomed to - it is common to hear complaints from Chinese visitors that Chinese food here is not like the food back home. There are several main types of Chinese restaurants in San Francisco: those primarily serving immigrants from Hong Kong ("Hong Kong style") which commonly have signs on the wall in Chinese characters, live fish and shellfish tanks and some exotic main ingredients, such as pig's blood or sea cucumber; those primarily serving San Franciscans who are not Asian immigrants ("California Chinese") which commonly have Westernized table service, low fat content and more emphasis on fresh vegetables; those primarily serving tourists or other people accustomed to Chinese food as it is commonly served in the United States ("Americanized Chinese"); and those primarily serving immigrants from other areas or a particular dietary need or interest (regional cuisines, vegetarian, Muslim). There may be some mixing between these various classifications and each category may influence the others, for instance, the Americanized dish known as Chop Suey is often not served even at Americanized Chinese restaurants in San Francisco, while Chinese vegetables such as bok choy and pea sprouts may turn up on your plate at California Cuisine style restaurants.
[wiki=2a35bb96e5c90c9e9bae72464fec4b86]Fisherman's Wharf[/wiki] serves fresh seafood, especially clam chowder and crabs cooked to order. [wiki=39a8093f66fa688657186d6dec102c78]North Beach[/wiki] is the place to go for Italian food, and the [wiki=d269d515038c9fb78bf0c3e2b1cde08b]Mission[/wiki] (birth place of the mission style burrito) for Mexican and Latin American cuisine of all sorts. San Francisco restaurants are also very corkage friendly. Average corkage fee appears to be in the $15 range, with some of the more pricey places charging $25-35.
[url=http://www.eatwith.com]EatWith[/url] is a new web platform that offers an introduction service so that visitors can eat home-cooked meals in the homes of locals so that each gets to know something of the culture of the other and get insider tips.
San Francisco offers a wide range of accommodations, from a healthy supply of hostels and budget hotels to the lavish, luxurious hotels in the city center, as well as just about everything in-between. The majority of accommodations are in the northeastern portion of the city, in and around the popular areas of Downtown, Chinatown, and Fisherman's Wharf. As one moves into the mostly residential neighborhoods to the west, the sleeping options filter down to small inns and bed and breakfasts.
Decide if you want to be in walking distance of your destinations, or are up to driving and parking (which can be quite an undertaking in some of the busier areas of San Francisco) or taking public transit. If you have a specific destination in mind, look also in the [wiki=f4334fdfa1c728eae375fe781e2e2d9d#Districts]Districts[/wiki] sections.
If you'd rather stay closer to the San Francisco International Airport, there are plenty of standard airport accommodations in the cities surrounding the airport - [wiki=a0203ecafd411dbd14650183d1dc6242]Brisbane[/wiki], [wiki=0f19f22ac5ffbf8b9499d770ba8ac718]Burlingame[/wiki], [wiki=210144f06cbafb28ff30a1fc1383c69b]Millbrae[/wiki], [wiki=d261d2a3f9e9999491a7aaa08ab2ca2c]San Bruno[/wiki] and [wiki=c88d904e07a787cad1074ff5e3050b24]South San Francisco[/wiki]. From there, you can drive or take BART or Caltrain into San Francisco.
The area codes for San Francisco are 415 and 628. You must dial 1, then the 3 digit area code and the 7 digit subscriber number.
For calls within the US or Canada, dial 1, then the 3 digit area code and subscriber number.
For international calls, just replace the "+" International dialling prefix symbol of the phone number shown in international format (that's the format we use here on Wikitravel) with the [wiki=9b5f14fb009c48d2b224d6ffb12630dc]international access code[/wiki] of 011.
Pay phones are getting less and less commonplace as nearly everyone in San Francisco has a mobile phone. When you do find one, keep in mind that they only take coins and phone cards with a dial-to-use number. Local calls start at $0.50.
To get online, internet cafés are available at a sprinkling of city center locations. Many coffee houses and cafés also offer wireless connection for free or a small fee. Free access is available in [wiki=572db090b73dc1c754b71ee28271a245]Union Square[/wiki]. For a more scenic place to check your email try the Apple Store on Stockton at Ellis near Market in Union Square or any of the many public libraries, especially the main branch on Market near [wiki=411bb48075f89f7fd6f40c0627e46a8a]Civic Center[/wiki] station.
Additionally, those travelling with laptop computers will often find an open free signal across the city which is being deployed by a company called Meraki. The "Free the Net" signal is unlocked and free to use.
Blue mailboxes for mail such as letters and postcards are on many street corners. USPS post offices sell stamps and ship packages, and several private companies provide additional services.
As with many other major cities in the world, San Francisco has its share of problems. A search for "People Behaving Badly" on YouTube will reveal local KRON 4 reporter Stanley Roberts' varied and sometimes comical segments on aggressive panhandling, distracted drivers, fare evasion, and most famously "Elmo Shirt Guy" who became an internet-meme in his own right and was featured on Jimmy Kimmel. The good news is that as a visitor to San Francisco, though you may occasionally encounter people behaving badly, with a dash of common sense its unlikely you'll be the target of any crime or violence.
The areas that one should be most cautious are in the neighborhoods of Bayview-Hunters Point, Visitacion Valley, Sunnydale, Ingleside, and Potrero Hill in [wiki=016334bef8756effd460b0b6208ee661]Southeast[/wiki] San Francisco, as well as the [wiki=411bb48075f89f7fd6f40c0627e46a8a]Tenderloin[/wiki], parts of [wiki=1d9b1024179ec1480507018d6f773089]Western Addition[/wiki] (including the Fillmore District), and parts of the [wiki=d269d515038c9fb78bf0c3e2b1cde08b]Mission[/wiki]. San Francisco is still susceptible to violent crime, and most of these murders occur in the southeast, less economically fortunate, neighborhoods of the city. Gang violence touches even busy and thriving areas such as the Mission Street retail corridor, although most instances of violent crime are directed to specific targets and are not random acts. The [wiki=3de59cebdd83af2fbab700937f80233f]SoMa[/wiki] district used to be somewhat dangerous; however, recent gentrification (something that has become fairly common and a social issue in SF) has transformed it into a rather hip and much safer neighborhood with plenty of art galleries and clubs. However, it is best to be careful even now.
San Francisco also has the largest homeless population per capita in the United States, its temperate weather (they do not freeze to death as often as in Chicago or New York), and its relatively less vicious gangs (SoCal gangs are notorious for using homeless persons for target practice or gang initiations). If someone begs from you, you may either politely say you do not have any change or just keep walking, and he or she will generally leave you alone. The main homeless area is around 6th and Market, heading towards the [wiki=411bb48075f89f7fd6f40c0627e46a8a]Civic Center[/wiki], and in the [wiki=411bb48075f89f7fd6f40c0627e46a8a]Tenderloin[/wiki]. [wiki=0a84616ab2e9e9648543a35c2a5b667e]Haight Ashbury[/wiki] also has lots of [wiki=6d60b1ddebabba9015b8049dc59bf49e]panhandlers[/wiki], and the area near Golden Gate Park at the end of Haight Street near McDonalds is notorious for junkies and should be avoided at night.
Pickpocketing, purse snatching, and other forms of petty crime are common as with any other large city. Be especially cautious on crowded Muni trains and buses, in heavily touristed areas such as Fisherman's Wharf, and during the busy holiday shopping season.
Do not leave valuables in your vehicle, especially when parking on public streets. Car break-ins are very common in San Francisco, and any valuables in plain sight are in danger of being stolen. During your visit, you will probably see small piles of broken glass on sidewalks throughout the city, which are the result of such crimes. If you cannot carry all valuables with you, try to keep them in the trunk and park your vehicle in secure parking garages, which are slightly safer than street parking but are not completely free from crime either.
As with the rest of California, earthquakes are an omnipresent threat, and despite near constant media speculation of the elusive "big one" (the last major quake to hit the city was in 1989); the risk of a major incident remains relatively small. Minor tremors do occur in and around the city on a regular basis however, but apart from the odd broken window they are accepted as routine.
Be careful to check for ticks after hiking in fields in the Bay Area. There is a high rate of lyme disease transmission in the Bay Area. If a bulls' eye rash develops at the tick bite site, immediately seek medical help and treatment with antibiotics.
San Francisco prides itself on its openness to diversity in race, gender, sexual orientation and personal style. This trait is widely considered to be one of the defining features of the city, and it draws both visitors and transplants alike.
Smokers beware: as in the rest of California, smoking is illegal in bars, restaurants, and other public places. Bay Area people can be particularly vocal about your personal habits. Be aware of nonsmoking areas, and try to be courteous about smoking in other places. They will probably not bother you about standing and smoking outside a restaurant or bar.
On the other hand, smoking marijuana is remarkably well-tolerated. If you are visiting from elsewhere in the U.S., you may be very surprised to find that marijuana is not considered to be a problem by San Franciscans, and even by the city's police. While still illegal under federal law, a law was passed in 2006 officially making marijuana the lowest priority for the SFPD. This does not mean that you should smoke marijuana just anywhere -- as with cigarettes, it is considered improper etiquette to smoke marijuana in crowded areas.
It's worth mentioning that natives tend to dislike many of the nicknames given to their city. Instead of saying "San Fran" or "Frisco," most refer to San Francisco by its full name, "SF", or "The City."
As is the case anywhere, when using escalators you are expected to stand on the right and use the left side for walking up or down the stairs. Standing still on the left side might annoy people.
Bikes can be rented from around the northern waterfront (Pier 41/Fisherman's Wharf/Aquatic Park area) or near Golden Gate Park for trips to [wiki=4d3d709be9de0281d3c872678318fe1c]Marin County[/wiki] via the Golden Gate Bridge. Stanyan near Haight at the end of the park has several good shops.
Golden Gate Transit also sporadically serves the North Bay from San Francisco, and has bike racks on most buses.
Nearby destinations suitable for day trips include:
* [wiki=ca442975313ffa75bbac92e69d79507f]Oakland[/wiki] - A diverse and vibrant city, Oakland was once considered San Francisco's "sister city," and has been regaining that title in recent years due to a general renaissance of the city. Although not a major tourist destination, it's worth a visit for its many distinct and charming neighborhoods.
* [wiki=cd3018fcc79b150dad3581247f222564]Berkeley[/wiki] - Home to the University of California, Berkeley and one of the nation's most progressive communities. Also a hub of liberal political activism for the past several decades. It is also home to quite a few superb restaurants.
* [wiki=6acb1b64ffe9d73ffad4fa4589122888]Sausalito[/wiki] - Enjoy a ferry ride across the bay to beautiful Sausalito where you can walk along the water and admire the San Francisco skyline. Stroll to the waterfront restaurants, shops, and galleries.
* [wiki=7816b920f4cd6f66fc46fe94a6c123cd]Healdsburg[/wiki] - A charming Wine Country town located among some of California's greatest wine appellations: Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley and Chalk Hill. Relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere, with excellent restaurants, shopping and wine tasting. About 70 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
* [wiki=99a1e06b7ce7afb7e4a388847c774679]Napa Valley[/wiki] - The main wine growing region in the United States, a trip to the many wineries makes for a fun day, while those wanting a longer adventure can relax in any one of the many spas, bed and breakfasts, or other lodging options.
* [wiki=4a3d456d0ec226665a261ca77be224b0]Muir Woods[/wiki] - A 560 acre forest of old-growth redwood trees located in [wiki=6420363c8241d0f9ad8ebaf900fee07a]Mill Valley[/wiki] just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods is a pleasant respite from the city, and accessible by Golden Gate Transit on summer weekends.
* [wiki=157857fe942ccb297126cfdd956940a6]Point Reyes National Seashore[/wiki] - Located just north of San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway (State Highway 1), Point Reyes is a beautiful seashore that is particularly nice to visit when gray whales are migrating along the coast, usually best in mid-January and then from March through May.
* [wiki=91884d8d12e52654c25aa0f530699ca6]Peninsula[/wiki] Just south of San Francisco, the peninsula has excellent nature preserves.
** [wiki=04ec30e97b990f9087f5fdad71ba4336]Palo Alto[/wiki] - On the Peninsula south of the city, Palo Alto has some of the richest neighborhoods in all of California and makes for a beautiful drive with views of the coastline and magnificent mansions. Palo Alto is also home to Stanford University, a highly ranked university that also has one of the most beautiful campuses in the world.
** [wiki=0f19f22ac5ffbf8b9499d770ba8ac718]Burlingame[/wiki] - Another well off neighborhood on the Peninsula, Burlingame has a lovely downtown area with plenty of shops, dining and streets lined with cypress trees.
* [wiki=f9c7792d5d9f43733332e5d21a913b62]Monterey[/wiki] - An otherwise quiet beach town home to one of the country's best aquariums.
* [wiki=f99b5fbee694f5cc246cc4152543c990]Santa Cruz[/wiki] - Located on the coast north of [wiki=f9c7792d5d9f43733332e5d21a913b62]Monterey Bay[/wiki], this funky town is home to surfers, the beautiful and tech-savvy University of California, Santa Cruz, and a popular boardwalk. The Santa Cruz Mountains north of town are a great place for outdoor recreation such as hiking, and home to misty forests of famous, enormous redwood trees.
* [wiki=027c1647b19ae3c681c2e8d620386275]Vallejo[/wiki] - Home to a wildlife theme park, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.
* [wiki=7f85ac4f786010c68e7ff77f87b2878d]Yosemite National Park[/wiki] - Tours from San Francisco make for a wonderful day trip, although you will spend around 10 hours travelling for less than 4 in the park. Make sure to visit the amazing Giant Sequoias.
* [wiki=ca0463a2bdf6b4a0ed562b9ec6cb0f30]Lake Tahoe[/wiki] - Buses and one Amtrak train per day link the Bay Area to nearby Truckee, and as with Yosemite, travel even by car to and from would consume much of the day. However, the spectacular alpine setting and winter ski and snowboard options surrounding the Lake make Tahoe an unforgettable destination.
* [wiki=6c3334038799702d8790dba03b22c6b3]Livermore[/wiki] - A suburban city in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. The Livermore Valley is "wine country", and produces some of California's best wines.
[[WikiPedia:San Francisco, California]]
[wiki=5cd0a0846431e88c2062ec7eda072da6]Dmoz:North America/United States/California/Localities/S/San Francisco/[/wiki]
[wiki=8546cba68ab4c65b1c85642c38c640bd]WikiOutdoors: Category:San Francisco Bay Area[/wiki]