Frugal travel tips for San Francisco


San Francisco is my favorite city on the West Coast. It is also one of the most expensive, especially for hotels. Fortunately for the thrifty traveler, most of the sights are free.

Note: When I first went to San Francisco (coming from Los Angeles) I was very surprised by the drop in temperature. Check the weather forecast before arriving.

Fisherman’s dock

Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, and Ghirardelli Square cover approximately 6 blocks along the waterfront. This tourist destination offers great views of the famous Alcatraz, souvenir shops, a seafood vendor and street performers. Some of the local “residents” include pelicans and sea lions. What keepsake for chocolate loving moms? Ghirardelli chocolate. This is where it all started.

Cable cars

In Ghirardelli Square, take a few photos at the turn of the cable car (at the end of one of the lines). The cable cars, which call the living monument of San Francisco, are a good break for the tired.

Note: there are no transfers with the cable cars. Each journey requires a new ticket.

Chinese district

San Francisco’s Chinatown is the second largest in the United States after New York. It’s a great place to get cheap supplies and a cheap meal.

Lombard street

Known as the most winding street, Lombard is another one of those photos tourists love. Getting off is free.

The Golden Gate Bridge

Another famous and scenic walk is across the Golden Gate Bridge. On a clear day the views are fantastic (and will work with all that great Chinese food you eat). This suspension bridge is just under 9,000 feet long, so plan your round trip accordingly.

Cable car museum

Do you like cable cars? Next, visit the Cable Car Museum on Mason Street. Entrance is free, and the museum’s bridge overlooks the huge motors and winding wheels that pull the cables. Great photos can be taken in vintage cable cars.

A city of different cultures, bordered by the sea, San Francisco has the perfect blend of historic attractions and modern sites. Many of them are free.


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