Known for its bright red Golden Gate Bridge, eclectic seafood dishes and quaint cable cars, San Francisco is unlike any other city in California. A melting pot of cultures, this lively city dances to its own rhythm and has a vibrant and unique personality you won’t find anywhere else.
A city often cloaked in a blanket of fog (which is called Karl, by the way), San Francisco offers plenty in the way of sightseeing and foodie delights for unsuspecting visitors. Whether you’re exploring the city’s diverse neighbourhoods, marvelling at the slanted-rooftops of old Victorian houses or gallivanting in glitzy bars and restaurants after dark, San Francisco has something for everyone.
With a distinctive charm around almost every corner, read on to find out how to explore San Francisco like a local.
What to eat in San Francisco
Navigating San Francisco’s foodie scene may feel overwhelming, but your taste buds will certainly be in for a treat. Famous for chowder, burritos and seafood delights, you’re sure to stumble across something uniquely exquisite.
Enjoy Breakfast at Dotties
Image credit: @reducedgrub, Instagram
Travel and foodie blogger Kelly Eroglu from Reduced Grub spent a lot of time in San Francisco while she was an air hostess, so if anyone knows a thing or two about grabbing an early bite to eat, it’s Kelly.
“San Francisco has been one of my favourite destinations for many years, and with new eateries popping up constantly, it never fails to please.
“My go-to place for breakfast has to be Dotties on 6th. You'll regularly see a queue of people waiting to get in but it’s definitely a must-do while in town. The neighbourhood may not be the best, but don't let this put you off.
“The menu ranges from regular American dishes to a fab Mexican fusion, with their chilli jam being my all-time favourite. Dotties also boasts a group of local regular diners, which screams out ‘Yep, we’re a good place to eat!’”
Get a Burrito at La Taqueria
Burritos are commonplace in San Francisco and have been since the 19th century after the burrito made its way from the Mexican farmlands to a Latin neighbourhood of San Francisco known as the Mission. Fast forward 100 years and San Francisco have ‘perfected’ their own burrito style, naming it ‘the mission’ after its founding neighbourhood.
Holding the title for best mission burrito, you can’t go wrong sampling one of these indulgently delicious, foil-wrapped beauties at La Taquiera. With such a big hype around their incredible burritos, you’ll need to be prepared to wait in line, but you’ll certainly be rewarded with the best burrito in northern California.
Try the Oysters at Leo’s Oyster Bar
Image credit: @asideofsweet, Instagram
Kelly Huibregtse, a local San Francisco blogger at A Side of Sweet, knows some of the best places to get a true taste of the city, particularly its seafood.
“One of my favourite spots is Leo's Oyster Bar. This charming tiki-themed restaurant has a killer combination of amazing food and Instagram-worthy decor. As you might suspect from the name, it's a great spot to get fresh California oysters - a must when visiting San Francisco.”
What to do in San Francisco
With so much to do in San Francisco, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to unique experiences. Whether you’re looking for days out or local experiences, we’ve rounded up some of the best that are sure to make your experience an authentic one.
Stroll around Pier 39 on Fisherman’s Wharf
Image credit: @gattizia, Instagram
Kiersten, a native Californian travel blogger at The Blonde Abroad, says Pier 39 is a must when visiting San Francisco.
“Named for the generations of fishermen who sold their catches at the harbour back in the day, the Wharf is now a tourist attraction.
“It is a great hub in the city where shopping, restaurants and entertainment venues are brought together to make for excellent areas for visitors. Make sure to keep your eye out for the famous Bushman street performer!”
While visiting the pier, you’ll also want to make sure you look out for the famous sea lions sunning themselves on the pier or even catch the ferry to explore the infamous Alcatraz Island.
Kierstan also recommends visiting Chinatown to get a feel for the different cultures the city is home to.
“San Francisco is home to the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest in America, boasting an impressive display of markets, speciality shops and restaurants. If you’re lucky enough to be there in the fall, don’t miss the beautiful Autumn Moon Festival, a celebration of harvest, bazaars, dancing and mooncakes.
“With beautiful Chinese architecture, a wonderful atmosphere and the beautiful Chinatown Gate this is a great area to explore.”
Travel across the Golden Gate Bridge
Image credit: @burborek_23, Instagram
When you’re in San Francisco, you can’t miss the opportunity to walk or cycle across the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge, says travel blogger Matt from Nomadic Matt.
“The Golden Gate Bridge is one of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks as well as a piece of engineering art. You can walk across the bridge, visit the visitor’s centre to be briefed on the history of the park, or just stare at it from every angle and take a stupid amount of pictures like I did!”
If you’d like to view the bridge from San Francisco’s waters, there’s also Golden Gate Bay sightseeing cruises available for a truly one-of-a-kind expedition.
Go wine tasting in Sonoma
If you’re looking to venture outside the city on a day trip, Matt says a visit to San Francisco’s wine country is perfect for doing just that.
“Near the city are the world-famous Napa and Sonoma wine regions. If you love wine and have time to leave the city, you obviously need to come here.”
On the tour, you’ll be able to see the sweeping vistas of the Sonoma Valley and the charming vineyards in all their glory. Get a true taste of California’s grapes while learning all about Sonoma’s fabulous history of wine-making.
Love escaping to the city? Whether you’re looking for attractions in New York, Orlando or even Las Vegas, we can help you make the most of your US city stay with a variety of sightseeing tours and attractions. Find out more over on our website.
Ready to start planning your San Francisco holiday? Click here, to view our full range of San Francisco attraction tickets.
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