5 Things Only Tourists Do in San Francisco

Like A Local Guide • 27 May, 2016

Camille, one of our lovely locals in San Francisco, outlines a handful of amusing touristy things to do in her city, with the exception of number four (wandering around shivering in shorts, no thank you)!

1. Walk or bike across the Golden Gate Bridge

Walking or biking across the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge is, of course, a must-do for visitors. It’s one of the main reasons why people travel to San Francisco. The total length is 2.7 kilometres, with a pedestrian walkway on one side and a bike lane on the other.

A gorgeous red on sunny days and majestic when shrouded in fog, the Golden Gate offers incomparable views of the bay and the city skyline. It’s a stunning landmark and one of the most photographed spots in the world.

16264137527_3fb36b5015_kPhoto credit: Tom Hilton

2. Ride the cable cars

San Francisco’s iconic cable cars have been running for more than 150 years now. The old-fashioned wagons are moved along three different lines by underground cables.

It’s no wonder that there are always long queues of tourists waiting to board them at the Powell turnaround; each ride provides incredible views from the city’s steep hills, not to mention thrilling sensations.

Riding a cable car is definitely a worthwhile experience, but it’s not a typical way of getting around so don’t expect to see too many locals.

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3. Take a selfie on Lombard Street

Feeling lonely? Head to Lombard Street, San Francisco’s “crookedest street” and one of the city’s most famous attractions.

This winding descent in the Nob Hill neighbourhood has eight sharp turns and is adorned with lovely hydrangea bushes. You’ll find crowds of tourists taking selfies, photos and making all sorts of videos.

The traffic is always congested as everyone wants to have a go at driving down, so locals try to avoid this street.

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4. Visit in July and forget to bring layers

San Francisco is notorious for its fog and, due to its varied landscape, has several microclimates. The weather can change by the hour and varies from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. Temperature changes are thus to be expected, especially in summer when degrees can rapidly drop once the fog rolls in.

Few tourists have realised that the best time to visit San Francisco is from September to November and they can easily be recognised – they’re the ones shivering in shorts or inappropriate clothing on chilly days in July.

Locals know to always wear multiple layers at all times.

8415720326_170ab385b4_oPhoto credit: David Yu

5. Set foot on Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Rock

Home to the famous Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf is the ultimate touristic spot in San Francisco. Gift and souvenir shops, sourdough bakeries, corn dog and ice cream stands, seafood restaurants and carousels fill its gaudy alleys.

You’ll find the sea lions at the far end of Pier 39 where they have taken up residence. These playful mammals love to sunbathe on the floats in large numbers and can be seen squabbling with each other to the delight of tourists.

Ferry tours of Alcatraz depart from Pier 33. Alcatraz is the island in the middle of the bay, also known as “The Rock”. It’s the location of America’s most notorious prison, from which escape was deemed impossible. Though the prison was closed in the 1960s, its history and legendary tales still attract many explorers eager to discover what remains of the place.

13646166415_801d9c87e8_kPhoto credit: Andrew Holmes

For more local recommendations read:
What locals like to do in San Francisco
Where locals like to eat in San Francisco
Where locals like to party in San Francisco

Special tip: For a more authentic San Francisco experience, get the Like A Local mobile app

Like A Local Guide
Like A Local Guide is about stepping off the tourist trail and finding cool and cosy spots where locals like to spend their time. We built a website and mobile app to bring insider recommendations from around the world to your fingertips.

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