Buy a Muni 1 ($11), 3 ($18) or 7-day ($24) visitor passport for unlimited rides on cable cars, streetcars (trams), trolleybuses and diesel buses, but not BART. Regular fare is $2 (Cable Car is $5).
If you're 65 or older, show your driver's license, ID or passport as proof of age and buy a Muni monthly Senior Pass ($15).
Muni's visitor passport and Senior Pass can be purchased at their kiosk (looks like a cable car) at the Powell-Market cable car turntable. You can also buy a Muni 2-for-1 street and transit map for $3 there.
Muni is the nickname of the San Francisco Municipal Railway, America's oldest public-owned large city public transit system (1912) and probably the last to call itself a railway.
Muni (San Francisco Municipal Railway)
Phone: 311 (within San Francisco)
1 (415) 701-2323 (outside San Francisco)
It's a quirky B&B in the heart of Castro - the gay and lesbian district in San Francisco. Everybody is welcome and the breakfasts are divine. Rooms are clean with beautiful views. Each decorated with a kind of funky 70s style.
The Green Tortoise Hostel in North Beach San Francisco has a lovely, separate cottage just down the street with sunny, private rooms, its own kitchen, DVD stash and internet access. The hostel puts on a bagel breakfast, entertainment every night, and organises trails across country on the Green Tortoise bus. The cottage is friendly, cosy and allows you to dip in and out of the hostel social life.
Broadway, North Beach.
The Red Victoria is a lovely hotel in the Haight (pronounced Hate) district of San Francisco - think Camden with more hippies and less pirates.
It is run by a septegenarian artist called Sami Sunchild who designed each room separately and occasionally joins guests for breakfast and discussion in the Peace Cafe. You can choose from Peacock, Butterfly, Sunshine and even Japanese tea garden rooms, but I found waking up in the Skylight room particularly relaxing.
Local curios include the Red Vic movie house where I squeezed in with the other punters on to old sofas and benches whilst eating popcorn 'n' yeast and watching The Big Lebowski.
Golden Gate Park is two blocks away, and the Castro district is a steep 20 minute walk (via Twin Peaks), or a 5 minute bus ride which connects with trams into the centre of town.
I was assured by a man whose eyes seemed to work independently that the burrito shop on the corner was the best in the area, and after only being there for a couple of days I met a gay man and a lesbian who had fallen in love. Only in San Francisco...
It's a bright red building on Haight and Ashbury, if you're on the street it's hard to miss.
Red Victorian Bed, Breakfast & Art
1665 Haight Street San Francisco,
Phone: (415) 864-1978
Fax: (415) 863-3293
An historic Inn 15 mins from downtown San Francisco across the Golden Gate bridge with stunning views of the city and the Bay. Just a five minute walk to the ferry crossing through streets of funky boutiques, museums, eateries and scented gardens. Finely furnished historic Inn with wonderful touches of detail.
A free weekday only tour of a local brewery which includes lots of free samples at the end. Very popular so you need to book weeks in advance!
For tour reservations call:
In the heart of San Francisco's vibrant Mexican district, the Mission, simply named La Taqueria is a bastion of authenticity in an increasingly yuppified area that remains popular because of its sheer quality and value for money. In traditional, homely surroundings you can order some of the finest Mexican food on offer in the Bay Area, either to eat in or take out. No airs and graces, just good quality food in generous portions and at low prices. And what's more, the guacamole is to die for.
2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110. Nearest BART: 24th & Mission Station.
A short walk from downtown Berkeley and the famous university campus, Cheeseboard might be a trek from the city but the pizza is justly famous throughout the Bay Area. Only serving one kind of pizza per day (and they're all vegetarian), their offerings range from highest-quality Margherita to more out-there combinations such as Blue Cheese and Pear but the pizza is invariably delicious. Served by the (huge) slice, a slice and a drink can be an inexpensive light lunch, or a whole (giant) pizza could be shared by several for a heartier meal.
1512 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709. Nearest BART: Downtown Berkeley.
One of the pleasant surprises about visiting San Francisco is that it has fantastic food. Not indigenous US food, but the food-culture imported by its immigrants from south of the border. Taquerias provides authentic, very tasty, cheap Mexican-style food to locals everywhere - especially in The Mission District. The best one is El Toro Taqueria on Valencia St. It is vegetarian-friendly (ie: it definitely doesn't cook beans in lard).
El Toro Taqueria: 598 Valencia St;
tel: (415) 431-2535;
Here's a photo: www.flickr.com/photos/bryceedwards/134769479/
San Francisco has some fantastic graffiti. The best is possibly found in the Mission District, and is normally quite political. Just wander around and you'll see a fair bit of it.
This is one of the photos I've taken of SF graffiti:
Just off Fisherman's Wharf there are a couple of platoons that've been taken over by basking seals. They sunbath, swim, fight and generally provide a surprisingly entertaining show.
I took this photo:
Right beside Powell Station on Market there is a little hut selling tickets for the old cable cars. If you buy a one-day or multi-trip MUNI ticket you can ride on the old trams, buses and new trams operated by MUNI. Saves walking up all those hills! I think it was $11 a day but well worth it if you are on foot.
May also be available in nearby shops.
Walk around the Mission District, the heart of the Latino district. Eat at any place (I miss the food so much), and go into a few supermarkets for special treats. At night there are many good bars (Divas for their mojitos), movie theatres and clubs. Check out the area during the day first to familiar yourself with the streets if you are the easily-scared type. Some people think the area is a bit unsafe. This petite female never had any problems.
Around Valencia, 16th and 24th streets;
Going to SF on a fairly tight budget, you can't beat renting a bike for a day (eg. at Blazing Saddles on Fisherman's Wharf). Very easy ride across the bridge, and down to Sausalito or Tiburon. Amazing views and a sense of achievement, all for $35 each including ferry ride back across the bay.
This is a great place if you want something a little different from the norm. They have done a great job restoring it and the prices won't break the bank. Very old fashioned with lots of plants everywhere! We stopped here for about 6 nights and although it was a little tricksy with a baby, we preferred it to the more upmarket boring places that were available for a dime a dozen. It's nice to experience a bit of history and then sleep in it!
Pinecrest offers everything a good diner should: huge breakfasts, endless coffee refills, maple syrup jugs on the tables, gum chewing attentive-but-aloof waitresses, a choice of sitting at the counter or in booths, milkshakes to die for, nutty but extremely friendly clientele, and it's 24 hour - what more could you want?! A classic american experience!
401 Geary St (at the corner of Pine Street), San Francisco, 94102
Tel: 1 415 885 6407
Near the gates to Golden Gate Park in the Haight Ashbury (hippy dippy) district, the Citrus Club serves wonderful noodle dishes and soups at very low prices.
Sit at the bar and watch the chef operating his magic wok over a flame-thrower of a hob.
Perfect for lunch before a long tramp around the park.
Get the bus to Haight Ashbury and walk down the main drag towards the park (lots of thrift shops to dawdle in on the way). The Citrus Club is on the right, about 200m. before the park gates.
Fort Mason is the location of one of the great accommodation bargains. It's a hostel located on a hill nor far from Fisherman's Wharf and has wonderful views out over Golden Gate, Sausaulito and Alcatraz. Accommodation is in shared bunk rooms but it's clean and cheap. Internet access and breakfast included.
Fort Mason, San Francisco
SF can be an expensive place, so if you want to get plastered on a budget, I recommend this place. It's a cheap bar - drinks for a dollar when I was living in SF a few years ago. It's not fancy, but it's not a total dive either, and you always get an interesting crowd in.
1535 Folsom Street in Soma (four blocks south of Market and 11th);
tel: 415 621 6087; www.theholycow.com
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