Top 10 Tips for San Francisco

Top 10 Tips for San Francisco

Hi Everyone,

Anyone also following FunkyForty on Instagram will know that in August I spent an awesome 2 weeks in California – doing the ultimate road trip. To begin with we spent 3 nights in San Francisco and despite all the bad press recently, both hubby and I fell in love with the city.

San Francisco is famous for its Golden Gate Bridge, as well as being the city that launched free speech, the internet, gay rights, fortune cookies and biotech. Currently it’s big in the news for being the first city to introduce self driving cars – more about this further down.

Be sure to book your hotel/accommodation in a good neighbourhood. If like us and you’re starting a road trip here, I would consider waiting with your car rental until you leave the city as parking costs are huge. We paid $65 plus tax each day for parking at our hotel!

Regardless of what time of year you visit, be sure to wear plenty of layers. Even summer can be breezy. Comfortable walking shoes are an absolute must. People do dress well in nicer restaurants so it’s also a good idea to have something pretty to wear for nights out.

I can still think of at least 100 more things I would like to do in San Francisco but as a start, here are a few things all achievable within 2.5 days!

Keep reading for “Top 10 Tips for San Francisco”.


Top 10 Tips for San Francisco

  1. Chinatown

Top 10 Tips for San Francisco

Chinatown is a good place to start any visit to San Fransisco as it is very central and close to most good accommodation. Established in the 19th century it is the oldest in North America and largest Chinatown outside of Asia.

Walking through it you really feel as though you have left the US and entered into a little Asia of its own. The shops sell absolutely anything Asian one could possibly desire. Be prepared for plenty of delicious food, colourful street art, and a deep history just waiting to be explored.

Top 10 Tips for San Francisco
My bag is available here at MASHA KEJA


2. Lombard Street – the World’s curviest street

Top 10 Tips for San Francisco

Despite there being many other tourists here, if you like watching tv shows based in San Francisco, Lombard street really is a must visit.

The street has a 27% gradient so too steep for cars. Then in 1920 this part of the street was redesigned to incorporate 8 corners. The speed limit is 8 km/h.

Little side tip: on your way here stop off on Russian Hill at the corner of Francisco St and Leavenworth St for a great photo of the city…

Top 10 Tips for San Francisco


3. Palace of Fine Arts

Top 10 Tips for San Francisco

The Palace of Fine Arts is located in the Marina District of San Francisco. Originally constructed for the 1915 Panama–Pacific International Exposition to exhibit works of art. Completely rebuilt from 1964 to 1974, it is the only structure from the exposition that survives on site.

It’s certainly impressive to walk around and soak in the mystical feeling around this 49 meter high opulent structure.

Little side tip: cross the road and walk towards the beach for a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge.


4. Golden Gate Bridge
Top 10 Tips for San Francisco

Spanning 2’737 meters long, the Golden Gate Hanging bridge is consider as being one of the architectural masterpieces of USA. Built in 1937 she is still one of the longest hanging bridges in the world.

You can walk, bike or drive over the bridge. In any case crossing it is a must for anyone visiting San Francisco. The bridge is also famous for being covered in fog and you have to be particularly in luck to get a full clear picture of it. Considering self as being very lucky here – smile.


5. Self Driving Car/Taxi

Top 10 Tips for San Francisco

San Francisco is renowned for it’s numerous techies and known as being the local capital of artificial intelligence , so it seems natural that it would be the first city with driverless cars.

On 10 August 2023, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted to allow two cab companies – Waymo and Cruise – to run a 24-hour service. Previously, they’d only been allowed to operate paid rides at night.

Beware however, all it takes to render the technology-packed self-driving car inoperable is a traffic cone. All going to plan, it will stay there, frozen, until someone comes and removes it.


6. Alamo Square Park
Top 10 Tips for San Francisco

Alamo square park is a photogenic hilltop that has appeared in numerous TV and film productions, such as the sitcom “Full House.” Apart from being a fabulously good photo spot, it is also where you will find the famous “painted ladies”.

The “painted ladies” are a row of 7 painted Victorian  houses built between 1892 and 1896. Originally painted grey, in the 1960’s artists decided the city needed cheering up and started painting the houses pretty colours.

Since then the term “painted ladies”  also exists internationally, for example in New Zealand‘s capital city Wellington.

Top 10 Tips for San Francisco

If you like these, you’ll also find pretty painted houses nearby in the Castro neighbourhood of San Francisco.


7. Castro Street

Top 10 Tips for San Francisco

Castro Street and the Castro district as a whole is truly one of the “Gayest” 4 corners of the world. It rose to popularity in the 1970’s along with the flower power movement.

We had such a lovely afternoon there – the people were so friendly and several locals came up to us. Can really recommend lunch at the Swirl on Castro.

Top 10 Tips for San Francisco


8. Lands End

Top 10 Tips for San Francisco

There is a  Coastal Trail at Lands End in San Francisco. A gorgeous spot for walking, especially as most visitors to the city don’t know it’s there.

Lands End is easy to get to, easy to park, and much less crowded than the more well-known parks and beaches.

In the picture above you see the ruins from the Sutra baths which were once one of the worlds largest indoor swimming establishments. See here for more about the interesting history of these baths.


9. San Francisco Cable Cars

Top 10 Tips for San Francisco

Fun fact: did you know that San Francisco is the city that first launched cars pulled along by cables running beneath the street. I thought it was funny how you always saw people clinging on to the cable car from the outside as seen above.

It’s easy to find and board a cable car. Choose from three cable car lines – two start at Powell and Market and continue to the Fisherman’s Wharf area. Another starts at California and Market and continues to Van Ness Avenue. Board at the cable car turntables (the beginning or end of each route) or look for the brown-and-white cable car sign post.

To avoid long lines, prepay utilizing MuniMobile® or Clipper® Card


10. The Love of Dogs

Top 10 Tips for San Francisco

It’s official – San Francisco has been nominated the most dog-friendly city in the world.

We had a couple of experiences that made me think this must be the case: first was our hotel – Nikko. It had a pet terrace with a dog walk, and a canine mascot named Buster. You and your pups can stay in downtown luxury with their Pet Pride Package. The hotel is friends with 49 local dogs and you can even arrange to meet them all one day a week.

Each room also had a soft toy dog “Buster” in it which you can buy and take home as a souvenir. Our “Buster” decided he wanted to join us for the rest of our California road trip:


Please feel free to add your top tips for San Francisco in the comments below – personally I am looking forward to going back and exploring more of this fabulous city.



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Hi! I’m Yvonne, a 40 something (wink) Kiwi, living in Zurich. I love fashion, travel, shopping and food – believing chocolate will cure almost anything!

1 Comment
  1. Hi dear Yvonne thank you for your blog and thank you also for the very nice tour with those beautiful photos from San Francisco it truly looks a very interesting place I love it very much thank you

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