You don't have to break the bank to visit San Francisco
Even if you’ve never been to San Francisco, you probably feel like you already know the city. Its beautiful skyline, charming historic houses, and hip art scene has been featured in countless movies. And this is one city that lives up to its hype – San Francisco is every bit as stunning as you’d imagine it to be. Whether you’re planning your first or your tenth visit, here are some tips to get great value, make your budget stretch a little bit further, and truly get a sense for what makes this legendary city tick.
No visit to San Francisco is complete without exploring the bay. Alcatraz Island, famous as a notorious prison to such ruthless rogues as Al Capone, also plays host to some slightly less well known San Franciscans – several colonies of rare seabirds! Alcatraz Island is administered and managed by the National Parks Service, who are responsible for preservation of history and wildlife.
If you’re young (or just young at heart) and a taste of the Bay has you curious for more ocean life, you can interact with jelly fish, sharks, and a rainbow of sea creatures at the Aquarium of the Bay. If you’re focused mainly in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, you can stop in at the Maritime National Historical Park. The Balclutha, a three masted, square hulled 1886 ship, beckons you to discover an entire world of Maritime adventure.
If your fancy leans more towards artistry than the outdoors, then San Francisco is absolutely the destination of your dreams. The arts scene is famous around the world and every detail of the city – from street art to latte art – is infused with a creative touch. If you can, save your Thursdays for some gallery exploration. The Museum of Modern Art (currently undergoing a dramatic expansion in the spring of 2014) is traditionally half price on Thursday evening. The Asian Art Museum is open late on Thursday night and it’s the perfect place to explore the diverse influences on the city’s art scene.
Some of the best sites in San Francisco are absolutely free. To really soak up a real local experience, go jogging, walking, or roller skating through Golden Gate Park, one of the largest man made parks in the world and an absolute must-see for fans of sixties culture. To make your dollar stretch further in San Francisco, take advantage of the city’s comprehensive public transit system. Long term visitors will find mini and cable car passports will help them save even more. And if you’re combining public transportation with a wide range of attractions, the City Pass is your most economical choice. A wide range of bed and breakfasts, inns, and one of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed in round out the budget accommodation scene quite nicely and ensures that there are economical options no matter what your travel style.
A short visit in San Francisco wasn’t nearly enough for us. There is so much to see and do that we cannot wait to make a return visit soon!
Heading to San Francisco soon?
Enjoying Golden Gate Park
Sleeping in San Francisco's Historic Hostels
Touring Alcatraz at Night