San Francisco

Twelve Essential Restaurants You Need To Visit In San Francisco

In Situ The Forest_Mauro Colagreco_Mirazur

San Francisco is one of the most popular cities to visit in the U.S. – and not only because of the Golden Gate Bridge or its iconic Cable Cars, but also for its diverse food scene. From Mexican and Central American food to Chinese restaurants and authentic Italian cuisine – there is nothing you can’t get in San Francisco. Since there are literally hundreds of restaurants you could go to, I’ve selected ten restaurants you shouldn’t miss on a visit to San Francisco. Of course there are dozens of others that are also worth visiting – so don’t see this as an ultimate guide, but rather as an ‘appetizer guide’ to get you started. This is the 2017 edition – 12 restaurants that are worth including in your San Francisco itinerary. Some of these restaurants have risen to fame in recent months or are brand new and buzz-worthy, others are all-time San Francisco classics, and then there are a couple of fine dining gems.

Chicory, dickory, dock. It’s pizza o’clock.

A photo posted by Pizzeria Delfina, est. 1998 (@pizzeriadelfina) on

Without further ado: Twelve essential restaurants you need to visit in San Francisco:

1 Best Burritos: La Taqueria

The Mission District is a mecca for foodies – thanks to its large Latino population, you find a myriad of Mexican, Latin American and Central American eateries here, and to choose a place for a burrito can be overwhelming. I suggest La Taqueria, which was recently awarded the title America’s Best Burrito. Head there to find out if they deserve this recognition, but the continuously great reviews and long lines speak for themselves. What makes the burritos here special is the fact that they don’t have rice. Instead, the flour tortillas are filled with pinto beans, meat, and toppings that include salsa, guacamole and hot sauce.

Tip: Order your burrito dorado and it will be seared on the plancha until it is crispy on both sides.

Address: 2889 Mission District Street

Voted best burrito in America, or something like that. #lataqueria #missionburrito #burrito #corona #sanfrancisco

A photo posted by Lyndsey Kaplan (@kappiekap) on

Honorary mention: El Castillito (136 Church Street, Castro). What’s special about them is that they melt the cheese inside of the tortilla.

2 Best tacos: Taqueria Cancun

Taqueria Cancun is one of San Francisco’s most popular taco places and has now three locations (in the Mission, SoMa and Bernal Heights) for a reason. It is famous for its tacos al pastor and carnitas. The tacos are loaded with meat, fresh avocado, salsa and sour cream. If you’re in the mood for a burrito, you’re at the right place too. Their Al Pastor Super Burrito is super yummy and super filling.

Address: 3211 Mission Street between Valencia Street and Fair Avenue, 1003 Market Street between Golden Gate Avenue and Taylor Street, 2288 Mission Street between 18th and 19th Streets

Honorable mentions: The Carne Asada Super Taco Dorado at La Taqueria (see above); the  carne asada and al pastor taco at Taqueria Vallarta (3039 24th St)

3 Best Pizza: Delfina’s

Delfina’s has been going strong for 17 years and has so many loyal local fans that it has now two locations in the city: in the Mission and in Pacific Heights. If you try one of their pizzas, you’ll understand why. The intention of the owners, Annie and Craig Stoll, was to bring Neapolitan-style pizza to the Bay area, and that’s exactly what they did. The pizzas are thin and delectable, chewy and crisp, and the crust is absolute perfection!

Tip: If you’re not too keen on pizza, try their signature spaghetti or their fresh burata. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Address: 3621 18th Street (Mission), 2406 California Street (Pacific Heights)


4 Best Burgers: 4505 Burgers & BBQ

4505 is known for its quarter-pound grass-fed beef pattys, which come from a California farm near the Oregon border. Especially the cheeseburger gets a lot of praise (topped with Gruyère cheese and served on a buttery, crisp sesame- and scallion-topped bun with a secret sauce) – it was voted as one of the 33 best burgers in all of America and the best burger in California.

Tip: As the name indicates, 4505 does not only serve burgers, but also BBQ fare: the brisket and the pulled pork are well worth trying, too. Another beloved item on the menu is the Frankaroni (a fried mac-and-cheese-and-frankfurter patty).

Address: 705 Divisadero Street (at Grove Street)

Honorary mention: Super Duper Burger (six locations in San Francisco), Gott’s Roadside in the Ferry Building, and the grass-fed burger at Nopa (see #6)

5 Best Ice Cream: Bi-Rite Creamery

In the summer months, the long line outside Bi-Rite Creamery can be intimidating, but trust me, the ice cream is worth the wait. You’ll notice that it is much creamier than other ice creams, and that’s because they use a higher ratio of cream to other ingredients than other ice cream parlors.

Flavors range from tasty creations such as Salted Caramel, Crème Brulee, Blue Bottle Coffee, Black sesame with Sonoma honey, Orange Cardamom, Turmeric & Ginger with Candied Lemon Zest, Earl Grey, Birthday Cake with Chocolate Cake and Rainbow Sprinkles. But the true show stoppers are the Sundaes. My pick: The Afternoon Snack which has roasted banana ice cream, home-made graham crackers, caramel sauce and whipped cream.

Address: 3692 18th Street, Mission District and 550 Divisadero Street

@pp_amanda112 ^^

A photo posted by Karthik Ramgopal (@karthikrgbits) on


6 Best For A Decadent Brunch: Nopa

Nopa is one of the Top 20 restaurants in San Francisco, and in a city with well over 4,000 restaurants, that’s saying something! Most people come here for the wood-grilled burgers (see #4) and the pork chop, but I recommend coming for a decadent brunch. It’s not the cheapest place for brunch (or dinner), but it is money well spent. Whatever you order, make sure that you also get an order of the Custard French Toast (they also have half orders) – you’ll thank me later. You can’t go wrong with any of the other dishes either – they are all finger licking good. Try the Butter Basted Eggs with Tasso Spiced Ham, Soft Polenta, Brussels Sprouts, Romesco and Parmesan Reggiano for example, or the Green Chorizo with Pinto Beans, Red Rice, Braised Greens, Feta and a Poached Egg. Definitely order a brunch cocktail with your dish – they are amazing.

Honorary mention: Zuni Café, see #8

Address: 560 Divisadero Street

A closeup of a fundamental brunch item from @thewongway. Indeed it is hard to go wrong with this French toast.

A photo posted by nopa restaurant (@nopa_sf) on


7 Best Fine Dining: Aster

Aster is currently one of the – if not THE best place for an exquisite dining experience in San Francisco. Rewarded with 1 Michelin star, chef Brett Cooper cooks up his artful, inventive creations in a quiet corner of the Mission District, combining ingredients you wouldn’t normal think go together but that end up complementing each other extraordinarily well. I recommend ordering the tasting menu which is at $65 (additional wine pairing $36) very reasonably priced. With four options for each course, you still get to personalize your dinner, or you can order a la carte (main dishes start at $27.)

Address: 1001 Guerrero St., Mission District

Brassicas, citrus, lemongrass sabayon, espelette #astersf

A photo posted by @brettmichaelcooper on


8 Best New Restaurant: In Situ

In Situ is a new fine dining venue inside the recently re-opened San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, SFMOMA, and chef Corey Lee, who received three Michelin stars, has curated a menu of dishes to which over 80 chefs from all over the world contributed. Since opening in June 2016, the restaurant has already received a ton of praise, including a huge praise from the New York Times who declared it the best new restaurant in the country. There couldn’t be a better spot for In Situ than inside an art museum, because the restaurant itself can be seen as an art installation. The flavors of the (currently) 15 dishes on the menu are as spread out across the globe as the chefs are who contributed to the remarkable menu. Sophisticated eaters will appreciated being taken on a culinary journey that includes dishes from famous international chefs such as Virgilio Martínez of Lima’s Central, David Chang of Momofuku in New York, or René Redzepi of Copenhagen’s Noma.

Address: Inside the SFMOMA, 151 3rd Street

In Situ Carrot, Sour Curd, Pickled Pine_Matt Orlando_Amass

9 Best For A Date Night: Zuni Cafe

The popular Market Street bistro is perfect not only for a date night, but for pretty much any occasion. The space is just as charming as the food is tasty. If you’re planning to come here, make sure to book a table in advance. The roast chicken is the dish that stands out here, but the burger is also regularly named as one of the best burgers in the city (served on grilled rosemary focaccia). Still, the chicken for two roasted in the brick oven, served with a warm bread salad, is unforgettable. If you’re not in the mood for a big meal, it’s also worth popping in here for some oysters and a cocktail at the bar.

Address: 1658 Market Street


10 Best Breakfast Sandwich: Devil’s Teeth Baking Company

First of all, Don’t expect a proper sit-down place when you head to Devil’s Teeth Baking Company. Do expect long lines, especially on weekend mornings. Come hungry and bring patience and you’ll be rewarded with one of the best breakfast sandwiches of your life. The biscuit-topped breakfast sandwiches are super filling, and you can choose between the classic bacon-egg-and-cheese ($5.50) and the more extravagant version with scrambled eggs, thick applewood smoked bacon, pepper jack cheese, avocado, and lemon-garlic aioli ($6.75).

Tip: If you come on a Sunday, you’ll get to enjoy the delectable $1 beignets.

Address: 3876 Noriega Street, (near Ocean Beach)


11 Best For Something Different: State Bird Provisions

State Bird Provisions made headlines around the country when it opened in 2012 and was promptly rewarded the title ‘Best New Restaurant in America in 2012’ – and that’s because of its very own take on the concept of dim sum. Self-described as ‘a restaurant without any programmed elements’, State Bird Provisioins serves dim sum-style ‘provisions’, or bite-sized portions of California fare with a Japanese touch. Don’t expect dumplings here – instead, you’ll get specialties like smoked trout-pickled onion ‘chip & dip’; or sourdough, sauerkraut, pecorino & ricotta pancakes; or curry roasted cauliflower with smoked date purée and pistachio. The ‘provisions’ are served dim sum–style on rolling carts, but there are also ‘Pancakes’ and ‘Commandables’ – the latter two served as à la carte items.

The Michelin star is well-deserved, but made it nearly impossible to snatch up a reservation on short notice. One thing you need to know if you’re planning to eat here: make your reservation well in advance, or you’ll be in line for up to two to three hours, especially on weekends (not kidding). But on the upside, the fabulous seats at the chef’s counter are set aside for walk-ins.

Address: 1529 Fillmore Street

Black butter roasted figs with Wagon Wheel cheese fondue and balsamic. @cowgirlcreamery #getfigged #lucious

A photo posted by state bird provisions (@statebirdprovisions) on


12 Best Oysters: Leo’s Oyster Bar

Leo’s Oyster Bar is worth a visit for its retro 70s atmosphere alone – resembling a Golden Era oyster bar that is split up in a ‘Dining Room’ and a ‘Champagne Room’. In addition to a large variety of oysters, you can get clams, lobster rolls, crab legs, crab cakes, mussels and a selection of divine cocktails. The oysters carbonara and the deviled egg with fried oyster on top come highly recommended, and Mr Nicholas’ Liquid Lunch – a vodka or gin martini served with pickled vegetables and olives – gives you the perfect excuse for a midday drink. And since the bar is located in the Financial District, close to many San Francisco hotels, you’re likely to walk by Leo’s Oyster Bar at some point anyway – so make sure to check it out, the decor alone is worth a cheeky drink and some oysters. Tip: There’s not just one bar at the back, but two, so don’t stop at the first door.

Address: 568 Sacramento Street (between Montgomery and Sansome), FiDi

Leo's Oyster Bar

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Stunning Vistas: viewing San Francisco through a lens

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While a good photographer can take an amazing photo in almost any location, sometimes the location can make finding the right shot almost easy. San Francisco is one of those places. On almost any street corner in the city there is a vantage or feel that the photographer can capture forever. We love how photogenic San Francisco is, and how easy it was to get great shots around the city. There are certain places that I am drawn back to take pictures – here is a mix of classics and less frequented photo ops around the city:

san francisco twin peaks viewTwin Peaks
Just the drive up to the peak has some great spots, especially considering that it can seem that you are miles away from the city. When you get to the top, you will be amazed at the expanse of this majestic city below you. Coming up here at a couple of different times during your trip is a great idea as the city at night is as magical as it is at dawn.

Most visitors will make it at least through the gate of Chinatown, but stopping with your camera and enjoying the cultural marvel of the place is a must. Shooting here in black and white can capture a crisp flavor of the place and also lets your viewers think about the smells and sounds that are an essential part of this place. Color also works to capture some of the beautiful neon and colored signage, so try a mix of both.

chinatown san franciscoCity by Boat
One place that many people don’t consider is to get some shots of the city from a boat. A good option is to head out on the water with the Red & White Fleet San Francisco Bay. They offer a number of different options to get different angles on the skyline and also the Golden Gate Bridge. One of my personal favorites are shots of the wharves, with the city rising in the background.

San Francisco is full of rich old neighborhoods just seeping with great buildings and interesting characters for subjects. Haight-Ashbury just tends to have a few more of both of these than the others. While still known as the birthplace of the free love movement of the 1960s, The Haight is still home to the cutting edge of west coast youth culture. The side streets of the neighborhoods have steep streets and beautiful old Victorian homes. You will want to have a spare battery on hand here.

Haight & Ashbury San FranciscoGolden Gate Park
This enormous city park was created in the same vein as Central Park in New York, though there is a definite west coast vibe here. The western border of the park ends at the ocean and pretty much anywhere between there and the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood on the eastern end are endless photo opportunities. One of the more stunning areas is Stow Lake which surrounds Strawberry Hill. There beautiful vistas from the top of the hill.

There are endless other places to find in the city and the best way is to just get out and start walking around. Within a few days, you will certainly have found a few favorite places of your own.

Golden Gate Bridge from BeachWhat are your favorite places to take photos in San Francisco?

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Have we been here before? San Francisco vs Lisbon

lisbon bicycle path to belem

On the look out for a cheap place to base ourselves for a month, we wanted was sun, sand and good wi-fi. Our search brought us to Lisbon, and we quickly discovered we had been there before…kind of.

Lisbon San Francisco similarities

The more we walked around and got our bearings, we realized that Lisbon has some pretty uncanny similarities with one of our other favorite cities in the world – San Francisco. Lisbon and San Francisco have so much in common, in fact, that it goes beyond the geography and infrastructure and extends to transportation, culture and lifestyle. Here are some Lisbon San Francisco similarities we discovered:

lisbon san francisco trams & bridges
Left: San Francisco; Right: Lisbon

Between a bay and the ocean

When we think of the ‘west coast’, California is what first pops into our minds, but Portugal rightfully markets itself as Europe’s West Coast and the images of sun, sand and beach inspired by that idea are spot on. Lisbon is primarily located on the Tagus River just as it empties into the Atlantic Ocean, which means the city is surrounded by so much water, it boasts long stretches of waterfront property and miles of sandy beaches just beyond the city limits.

view over lisbon and 25 de abril bridge
View over Lisbon and the 25 de Abril Bridge

Similarly, the San Francisco peninsula sits between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean on the U.S. West Coast. The city’s Ocean Beach is comparable to Lisbon’s Costa Caparica, which are both known for big waves and key surf spots. San Francisco, too, has miles of waterfront and beaches – although not quite the same relaxed beach culture as Lisbon.

san francisco bay view
San Francisco Bay View

Built upon seven hills

Another Lisbon San Francisco similarity: Lisbon and San Francisco are both built atop exactly seven steep hills and because both of us prefer to tour as pedestrians putting miles of pavement behind us on foot, we can attest to the quad-burning workout in both cities. Climbing those hills is worth it, however, as the seven peaks of Lisbon and San Francisco both offer incredible views out over the city and and the ocean.

lisbon hill & san francisco hill
Left: Lisbon; Right: San Francisco

Our favorite hill view in San Francisco was from the Telegraph Hill, and in Lisbon, we loved the views from the Colina de São Vicente, the hill on which the Alfama neighborhood is located.

Historic cable cars & street cars

When people think of San Francisco, a vision of the old-time yellow cable cars most certainly come to mind – and it turns out that Lisbon also has cable cars, and they are yellow. To get even more specific, both San Francisco and Lisbon have cable cars and street cars, all of which began to run in the early 19th century.  Cable cars can climb the hills, while street cars run best on flat terrain. In Lisbon, there are five working trams, called eléctricos (find out how to ride the tram in Lisbon), which were imported from the U.S and originally called ‘americanos‘. While in Lisbon, these bright yellow electricos are still fully-integrated as a major part of the mass transit system, San Francisco now runs only two operating cable car lines (the oldest manually operated cable car system in the world) and one street car line which runs from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Castro.

lisbon san francisco street cars & trams
Top Left, Bottom Right: Lisbon Streetcar & Tram, Bottom Left, Top Right: San Fran Tram & Streetcar

A bright orange suspension bridge

Early on into our Lisbon residence we walked down to the shore and, upon looking to our right, spotted a bridge so out of place, we did a double take. Is that the Golden Gate Bridge in Lisbon? You can’t talk about Lisbon San Francisco similarities without mentioning their very similar bridges!

Although it is called the Ponte de 25 Abril, this Lisbon suspension bridge – the longest of its type in Europe – looks almost identical to San Francisco’s iconic symbol. The two bridges are even close in size, as well, with the Golden Gate Bridge spanning 2,737m in length and the Ponte de 25 Abril reaching 2,277m across the Tagus River. The twin city feeling deepens here, as the  Lisbon version was actually designed by the San Francisco architect who designed San Francisco’s Bay Bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge has held the record for the tallest suspension towers as well as the longest suspension span for decades, and the Ponte de 25 Abril, which held the record for the longest suspension span in Continental Europe for years, still holds the record for the deepest bridge foundations.

golden gate bridge san francisco & lisbons 25 abril bridge
Top left, Bottom Right : Lisbon, Top Right, Bottom Left: San Francisco

A history of severe earthquakes

Both cities have been leveled by severe earthquakes. Lisbon was hit by several severe earthquakes throughout the centuries, but the worst one hit in 1755 and destroyed 85% of the city. Over 150 years later, in 1906, San Francisco was hit with its hardest earthquake almost completely destroying the city and leaving over 400,000 people homeless.

The Climate – minus the summer months

They say that Lisbon and San Francisco share a similar climate and when we arrived in early June, the weather was chilly and cloudy, like a typical San Fran June day. However, as the days and weeks moved on, Lisbon revealed itself to be a hot and sunny Iberian beach spot more similar to southern Spain than San Francisco. The summers are night and day, but  the winters in both cities are said to be similarly moist and chilly.

lisbon and san francisco
Left: Lisbon; Right: San Francisco

World Class Wine

This might seem obvious, but too important to forget. San Francisco is the gateway to the wine region of Napa Valley for an afternoon wine-tasting of the ultimate relaxing boozy weekend, and Portgual is not only known for its sweet Port wine from Porto, but also its delicious Vinho Verde, or ‘green wine’, which is really more like a very crisp, refreshing bottle of white. At $8 in restaurants and even less in stores, Portugal is a wine-lover and bargain-hunter’s dream when it comes to wine.

Coffee Shop Culture

Both Lisbon and San Francisco have a thriving coffee culture scene, but they truly are worlds apart.  Lisbon, like the rest of Portugal, is full of smaller coffee shops called ‘Pastelerias’, where locals dip in for a cheap 55 cent espresso and a sugary, creamy pastry all throughout the day. There are a couple of Starbucks locations downtown, but the Lisbonians head to their local pasteleria for a pick-me-up caffeine jolt, and spend ten or twenty minutes chatting away to the other regulars. San Francisco, and its neighboring Silicon Valley are both home to a well-developed cafe culture that couldn’t be more different to Lisbon. Here, locals frequent Starbucks, Blue Bottle or Peet’s Coffee and Tea, open their Macbooks and stick in their headphones for a day of location-independent working.

West Coast Street Art

San Francisco, and especially its Mission District, are well known for its unique murals and street art graffiti. During our time in San Fran we spotted a fresh Banksy in fact! The world’s most creative street artists leave their mark here on the West Coast of the U.S., but not any people realize the incredible street art scene happening over on Europe’s West Coast! For street art junkies like ourselves, Lisbon boasts colorful social commentary across many of its buildings and public spaces. Take a stroll through the Bairro Alto, practically a public art museum with incredible graffiti.

street art lisbon & san francisco
Top left, Bottom Right: Lisbon, Top Right, Bottom Left: San Francisco

Have you been to both cities? Did you also feel such a resemblance? Did we miss any other similarities between the two cities? We’d love for you to let us know about anything we missed in the comments below!

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Views from above: San Francisco

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Being built on various hills, San Francisco has a number of viewpoints for magnificent vistas of the city and the bay. Here are our Top 5 views:

Telegraph Hill – Coit Tower

Coit Tower, which sits atop Telegraph Hill, offers both fabulous views from the top in addition to some fantastic murals inside. Even without entering the tower, the views from the 284 foot-high Telegraph Hill stretch over much of San Francisco. You can walk there easily from Fisherman’s Wharf or Chinatown and overlook the entire San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz and the Financial District.

Coit Tower is open daily from 10am to 5pm, $4.50

Treasure Island

The vista point on Treasure Island offers the best views of mainland San Francisco’s financial district and the Bay Bridge. The small island in the San Francisco Bay (which is only accessible by car) is best visited at sunset or at night when the Bay Bridge and twinkling lights of the skyscrapers are at their most stunning.

Twin Peaks

A name more familiar to some as a television cult classic, the San Francisco area of Twin Peaks lays south west of the city centre and has the second highest altitude (910 ft / 280 m) in all of San Francisco (Mount Davidson being the highest). Twin Peaks might also be the most famous view point of the city by the bay. In good weather you have all of San Francisco spread in front of you including the entire bay. In addition to its views, it also is home to a lot of wildlife such as raccoons, butterflies, hawks and skunks.

Bernal Heights Park

The viewpoint from Bernal Height Park is nowhere near as famous and only half the height (433 ft/132 m) of the Twin Peaks vista, but the views are equally as beautiful, especially of the Financial District, the Bay and both the Golden Gate and the Bay Bridge. Well off the beaten tourist path, Bernal Heights park is the perfect spot to sneak off too for a quiet picnic.
Buena Vista Park

With a name like Buena Vista, you can be sure the view is likely to be good. Just a short walk from Haight & Ashbury, Buena Vista Park is one of the highest hills in the city (569 ft /173 m) and once you conquer the steep climb to the top, you will be rewarded by the splendid views over the city.  Though the hill is very popular with dog owners and dog walkers, during the week, it is possible to enjoy the views from the top with few people around you. Not only recommended for the views, sprawl out on the lawn at the top with a good book or set up a romantic picnic for two.

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San Francisco’s largest Don’t Miss attraction – Golden Gate Park

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You have walked the Golden Gate Bridge, been to Chinatown, gone to the Mission District and Haight & Ashbury, hung out the side of a Cable Car, seen Fisherman’s Wharf, enjoyed the views from Coit Tower, looked at the Painted Ladies, visited Alcatraz AND still have some time left? Why not spend the day at Golden Gate Park and escape the flocks of tourists? The park apparently has over 1 million trees, there are 10 lakes, waterfalls, and even a herd of bisons! Golden Gate Park has just about as much to do within it as the rest of San Fran’s tourist attractions combined.

Though its name sounds otherwise, it is not located by the Golden Gate Bridge (although you’ll find two huge parks there too: the Golden Gate Recreation Area on both sides of the bridge and the Presidio just South of the bridge). Instead, Golden Gate Park stretches for 47 blocks from Stanyan Street to the Pacific Ocean, bordered by Lincoln Way in the south and Fulton St in the north – both top-notch addresses if you are looking to rent condos in San Fran. The park is more than 3 miles long and half a mile wide, which makes it even bigger than New York’s Central Park and its 4.12 km2 (1.589 sq mi) makes it one of the largest urban parks on the planet. You can easily spend an entire day just exploring the broad parkways and the variety of activities the park offers.

So what’s there to do? Not only joggers will enjoy the countless paths and meadows of the park, there’s something for anybody who likes to be active: on Stow Lake you can rent paddle and row boats, it’s the perfect place for a bicycle tour (bikes and even segways can be rented), there are great paths for inline skating, the park has a polo field which can be used for football or other sports and there is even a golf course.

Flower lovers will admire the Botanical Garden (free!), the Conservatory of Flowers, the Rose Garden and the Japanese Tea Garden; art lovers get their fix at the De Young Museum of Art and the California Academy of Sciences is one of the world’s largest natural history museums. Every Sunday between May and October, the Spreckels Temple of Music offers free concerts at 1pm.

In order to see as much of the park as possible, we took a long jog  through it and still only managed to see a fraction of the park.  Our favorite part of the jog was through the Botanical Garden which even has Redwoods! We also caught an awesome spontaneous bongo-drum jam while having a post-run picnic in the park.If you want to enjoy some good food with a view, there are two restaurants with view over Ocean Beach: Cliff House Restaurant & The Beach Chalet.

Tip: The Observation Deck in the De Yong Museum offers fantastic views of the park and the bay and is free of charge.

How to get there:

Take the Muni (light railway) line N-Judah from Powell and Market and get off at Irving Street & 9th Ave.

On the weekends, there are also inter-park shuttles. If you have a car, there are various parking options throughout the park.

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San Francisco on a shoestring

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San Francisco was one of our favorite cities during the American leg of our travels. The city is filled with life; it could take a lifetime to discover all of its secrets. It could also take a big budget if you’re not careful. However, with a bit of planning, exploring the streets of San Fran doesn’t need to eat through your budget. Here are the Globetrottergirls’ tips on getting the most out of San Francisco on a shoestring budget.

1. Take a free tour

San Francisco offers some great walking tours with its voluntary guides (tips are welcome, of course) which have some incredible knowledge of their hometown which they are more than happy to share with you. If you choose a tour in one of the less-known neighborhoods you are likely to find out much more about San Francisco than any guidebook can offer. Tours run daily, schedules can be found here.


2. Walk the Golden Gate Bridge

Walking the Golden Gate Bridge reveals how collosal this grand piece of architecture really is. Looking 245 feet / 75 m down into the water or 500 feet / 152 m up to the top of the huge pillars will show you how tall the bridge actually is. And when you crossed the 1.7 miles long bridge you can enjoy the views of San Francisco from a big vista point before walking another 1.7 miles back.


3. Take a street car instead of a cable car

The trademark San Francisco cable car is a fun ride. Once. But the cable cars don’t get you where you need to go, plus the tram offers excellent views for much better value for money. Rather than spending $6 on a ride in a cable car, for $2, a ride on the F Line gives you a tour from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Castro. The ticket is valid for 90 minutes in case you want to take a closer look at something you see on the way.


4. Free museums

San Francisco has a number of museums that are free of charge, such as the Cable Car Museum, the San Francisco Fire Department Museum or the Museum ItaloAmericano.

Many other San Francisco museums have a free or half-price day every month, such as the De Jong Museum, San Francisco MOMA (half-price Thursday evenings 6:00 p.m. – 8:45 p.m, $9.00) and the Yerba Buena Center of the Arts (all 1st Tuesday of the month), the Exploratorium (1st Wednesday of the month), California Academy of the Sciences (3rd Wednesday of the month) and the Asian Art Museum (1st Sunday of the month or $5.00 after 5:00p.m. on Thursdays).

A detailed list on all San Francisco museum deals can be found here.

*free / 50% discount*

5. A stroll across Chinatown & Financial District

San Francisco’s Chinatown is one of the biggest in all of North America, and it is the oldest. Enter through the Dragon’s Gate on Grant Street and explore the countless Chinese stores where you can get anything from Chinese teapots and silk dresses to cheesy souvenirs. The restaurants have authentic Chinese cuisine and often offer special deals on their menus. Stockton Street is less swamped with tourists, but gives you a glimpse of how the Chinese live, including markets. At Portsmouth Square you can watch older Chinese men play chess when the weather is warm.

Turning into any of the streets that lay right off Grant Street (Clay Street, Sacramento Street, Washington Street) will bring you right into the Financial District with its modern architecture and skyscrapers. Adjacent to the bay, the walk through the Financial District will bring you to the Embarcadero and the ferry station by the Bay Bridge.


6. Haight & Ashbury

The neighborhood which is famous for its hippie culture in the 60’s still has some nostalgia of its roots, such as Amoeba Music or the first Ben & Jerry’s, and is still a good place to shop in independent clothes and vintage stores for less money than in the usual chain stores around Union Square. The coffee shops and restaurants are cheaper than eating out in the city centre, plus much more condusive to hippie-watching (and nowadays punks, too).


7. The Castro

The Castro, mainly known for its large queer population, has become a place well worth visiting not only for gays and lesbians. Many individual shops and cafes line the streets and walking up the steep streets to the more bohemian Noe Valley will reward with superb views over San Francisco.


8. Mission District

Often overlooked by San Francisco’s visitors, the Mission District is the oldest part of San Francisco and home to its Latin American population. Here you’ll find endless authentic Latin American restaurants, taquerias and burrito joints where you are served excellent food for very little money. The Mission District is practically an outdoor art museum, with its famous murals and street art which covers buildings and alleys all over the area, so make sure to explore to the right and left of Mission Street. If you are really interested in murals, it might be a good idea to take a tour which will show you even the best hidden pieces.

*$15.00 for lunch for 2 people / mural tours $10.00*

9. Golden Gate Park & Ocean Beach

Golden Gate Park stretches over more than 40 blocks in San Francisco’s West until the Pacific Ocean and is larger than Central Park in New York. It’s much more than just a park – apart from riding a bike (there are several bike rental stations in the park) or walking, you can row on Stow Lake, listen to live music jam sessions, or visit the botanical garden or one of the museums.

Ocean Beach borders Golden Gate Park on the West side and is San Francisco’s largest sand shore. It is a great spot to watch the surfers and enjoy the views of the Pacific Ocean’ huge waves.


10. Lombard Street

Lombard Street is famously known as the ‘crookedest street’, although apparently it is not even San Francisco’s crookedest street, but watching the cars going around its steep curves (eight switchbacks on a 40-degree slope) is priceless entertainment for no money. The street is technically just like any other, which means driving down it yourself (if you have a car) won’t cost you a penny, either.


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Hotel Tip of the Week: Hotel Diva | San Francisco

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Being on the road 365 days a year means we stay in countless hotels. For all the disappointing digs there are as many accommodation gems around the world. We review one hotel every week, each of which we feel comfortable recommending after staying at the hotel ourselves. This week’s recommendation is a perfect San Fran hotel for any GlobetrotterGirl!

Should there be any problem finding Hotel Diva on Geary Street located just off San Francisco’s Union Square, just look up. The seductive custom window shades show black and white silhouettes of curvaceous females in corsets or fishnets. Still can’t find it? Look down. Diva has a ‘walk of fame’ on the sidewalk in front of the hotel complete with signatures, hand and foot impressions of the hotel’s celebrity guests.

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Street Art in San Francisco

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The Globetrottergirls are huge fans of street and urban art. We love its raw grit, city themes, fleeting nature and the sport of spotting new works by street art all-stars.

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