Tip #1: The biggest tip that we can share is to be wary of Fisherman’s Wharf, which – although it offers some flavor of San Francisco maritime – is one of the most notorious tourist traps that San Francisco locals advise to avoid. Mixed in with some cool historical sites; Boudin’s yummy sourdough bakery restaurant; and the boat tour departures – are some of the most tacky t-shirt, electronics, and suitcase stores you will ever find. The wharf area is mobbed with tourists– and both street vendors and panhandlers can potentially be quite aggressive. Many of the great foods that San Francisco is known for – sourdough bread, fresh Dungeness crab, and other fresh seafood is readily available throughout the city, not just the wharf. We encourage visitors to the wharf to budget a shorter time than a full day, or combine the trip with a boat tour departure around the Bay. While this is a controversial viewpoint from a tourism oriented city – we believe that there is a only a small fraction of the wharf that offers a valuable experience for the visitor. If you visit the wharf, avoid parking fee’s of over $30 per day by considering taxi transportation to 1-2 blocks from the main area; the public streetcar trolley which runs the waterfront; or even a walk from some of the downtown hotels for active travelers. The website GottaPark.com allows you to see parking prices and pre-reserve at a discounted and fixed price—a valuable service anywhere in San Francisco where parking is difficult.
Tip #2: Across all of the great attractions in San Francisco, we encourage you to bring comfortable running / walking shoes and stroll the neighborhoods. San Francisco experienced on an enjoyable walk is radically different than a tour bus or rental car. Many of the neighborhoods are easy to connect between, such as North Beach to Fisherman’s Wharf or Chinatown. If you do end up hitting a steep hill or get exhausted, a taxi can be easily called at almost any time you like for short trips. The vast majority of San Francisco is very safe and other than some of the questionable neighborhoods surrounding Union Square, you can feel very safe around the City. Many of our favorite attractions including the Presidio and Marina District – are highly walkable with a variety of cafes, restaurants, and shops to enjoy. You will also find that a taxi or even private car service is a much better investment than the hassles of parking in busy San Francisco neighborhoods. Hotel parking costs readily top $30 per day or more at most downtown hotels. A rental car in San Francisco’s central downtown is often more of a liability than a benefit – based on our reader’s feedback for many years. If you want to enjoy outlying attractions like Muir Woods, you can rent a car at an in-city agency for a few days that you truly need it.