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Aug 23, 2018

Sound Advice For Newbies in San Francisco

by Shannon Meyer

I will keep this short and sweet but I am also going to pack this one up with so much useful and practical information about San Francisco, you will feel a little more like a local at the end of this article.

San Francisco, also known for its encapsulating beaches and sprawling metropolis, it’s known simply as "City by the Bay". No other city in the United States dares challenge this singular claim of ownership over this nickname. And I know people sometimes, for the sake of being cool or friendly, call it frisco but here’s the secret - some locals are not fond of the nickname. Is the name even cool? It is? But still... try not to.

We’ve also outlined the best and cheapest ways to get around SF, the SF tipping culture, best bars, and restaurants with a view and some not-to-be-missed museums and attractions a stone’s throw away from downtown SF.

I've included some awesome pictures found on Instagram and they will make you feel like the sun is caressing your skin from across your computer or phone screen! Follow the guys on social media to get some inspiration pumping in your system so you’ll put more energy into planning your group trip to San Francisco.

san francisco nice neighborhood
Unsource: Anthony Delanoix - Unsplash

1. Awed by Art at SFO

When you’re getting into San Francisco by air, there are 3 main airports to choose from: SFO (San Francisco International Airport; 15 minutes from downtown), Oakland International Airport (25 minutes from downtown) and SJC (Norman Y. Mineta San Jose Internet Airport; 45 minutes from downtown). It’s easy getting in because all airports are less than an hour’s drive from the main attractions in San Francisco. SFO also serves as a secondary hub for Alaska Airlines so, it can get a little tied up when something needs to be done to the runways or the Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum and Library.

New arrivals are advised to arrive earlier than usual and to make their way to the museum for a quick look-around because it’s astonishing for an airport-based museum. The exhibits are constantly rotating and changing and it houses an awesome aviation museum. Big thanks to its collaboration with the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. It’s also the first museum of its kind in the world.

Take your pick from over 20 galleries housing permanent and temporary exhibits featuring the likes of Janet Echelman, Robert Bechtle, Norie Sato, Rufino Tamayo, Wayne Thiebaud, Joyce Kozloff and many more!

Into art and stuff? Ask the charter bus driver to drive you around to the following attractions when in town!
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
    151 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103
    (415) 357-4000
  • Asian Art Museum
    200 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102
    (415) 581-3500
  • Museum of Craft and Design
    2569 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107
    (415) 773-0303
  • Peninsula Museum of Art
    1777 California Dr, Burlingame, CA 94010
    (650) 692-2101
  • Children's Creativity Museum
    221 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
    (415) 820-3320

This #SubmissionFriday is 100% natural 🌱🌻🌈🧚‍♂️🍉🌵🌙🥑 . Every week we gather submissions from practicing artists via @tumblr and feature selections each Friday. Head on over to 👉 👈 to share your artwork with us! . . . [@dariadjalelova, Awakening, 2018; @_naomialessandra_, The Cactus Eater, 2018; Suze Woolf, Romanesco; @miamurgesemastroianni_photo, Contemporary Bacchus; @norbert.fritz, Mobile No. 18, 2018]

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#AsianArtMuseum from Your Perspective. Here are some of our favorite pics snapped this week, taken by you! . 📷 #1: @dano_mantooth . 📷 #2: @argentiquemedium . 📷 #3: @crystalviolette . 📷 #4: @jimjamdesign

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Join us this Sunday for the Opening Exhibition of works by Artists Julie Huang & James Su, Truong Tran, and Harriete Estel Berman. The Museum will host a free Opening Reception from 2-4pm on Sunday, August 19.

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2. Getting around in SF on Foot? Maybe Not

You might start off with big ambitions about how you'll leg your way around the City by the Bay but think again. Check out the San Francisco landscape and you'll see why SF isn’t exactly known as a sneaker-friendly city.

Public transportation, as some locals might tell you, is comprehensive but in order to properly get around, you must use a mish-mash of everything. It’s like walking around the buffet table which involves a bit of Uber, a bit of train, some buses and THEN some walking. However, the panorama around Chinatown and North Beach are pretty flat, so, walking around these famous parts of SF will be absolutely amazing! If you need a rest, hop on a cable car for a ride up the hill to catch the sun setting over the horizon.

Therefore, here’s a little shameless plug: the best way to get around San Francisco is to rent a charter bus. There, said it.

With that said, without your own chartered bus, there are a few affordable ways to get out of the airport, first of all: Uber, Lyft, taxi and the SamTrans. Using Uber or Lyft (at the point of writing this article) should cost you between $30 to $40 per trip into the city while the airport trains, with their super-efficient signboards, should suffice if you’re not tight for time.

At the airport, San Francisco Visitors Information Center, San Francisco Underground and the Presidio Visitor Center, remember to grab a map and learn the San Francisco layout. It will save you a lot of time and make the trip less stressful. Main attractions and major neighborhoods around SF are clearly marked on the map so you can get to your destination even when you are being driven around by a chauffeur.

Once you’re out of the airport or train station, you need to have your own ride to get around. The mountainous terrain of San Francisco is suitable for the fit and those who love stairs.

📸: @ianteraoka | Your daily moment of zen. It can be found where the land meets its end. #AlwaysSF . Tag your photos with #AlwaysSF for a chance to be featured on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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3. Food Culture You’ll Miss When You’re Gone

Wine connoisseurs, beer crafters, food writers and critics, historians...they have all been flabbergasted by the sheer color and layers there are to unveil in the San Francisco food culture. Thanks to its multicultural roots, the city enjoys one of the strongest food backbones not just in the United States, but the world. It was also reported that San Francisco produces as much as 80% of America’s food, so, chefs are literally spoiled for choice as far as food ingredients are concerned.

Despite all the organic, vegan, gluten-free and GMO-free options available, you’ll want to dig into sinful cheeseburgers, fries, burritos, and In-N-Out. You’ll be gushing about how delicious a simple, tediously made sandwich is at Pal’s Takeaway (a restaurant as wackily-decorated as it is unexplainable why some ingredients are in the sandwiches), savor mouth-watering carne asada quesadilla from Taqueria Guadalajara, or order freshly-made masa from La Palma Mexicatessen which uses dry GMO-free corn, lime, and water. 

You can also order out-of-this-world Chinese-style chicken wings, an animal-style double-double from In-N-Out, or go crazy over Bulgogi in a Korean BBQ restaurant. We have favorites but below, you’ll find some of our go-to's. None of them are even sponsors or advertisers.

They’re listed here just because they’re DELICIOUS and one should not argue about good food. And if you’ll forgive the corniness, sharing IS caring.

chicken wings, delicious cuisine of san francisco, CA
Source: Charles Koh - Unsplash

  • Pal’s Takeaway
    4201 Market Street, Oakland, CA 94612
    (415) 203-4911
  • Taqueria Guadalajara
    4798 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94112
    (415) 469-5480
  • La Palma Mexicatessen
    2884 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
    (415) 647-1500
  • San Tung
    1031 Irving Street, San Francisco, CA 94122
    (415) 242-0828
  • K-Elements BBQ
    2140 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
    (415) 851-8870
  • Julie’s Kitchen
    50 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94104
    (415) 956-0785
  • Espetus Brazilian Steak House
    1686 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
    (415) 552-8792
  • Kome Japanese Seafood & Grill Buffet
    1901 Junipero Serra Blvd, Ste A, Daly City, CA 94014
    (650) 992-8600

Oysters and Chanel, what more could you ask for? Photo creds goes to the ever so fashionable foodie @alwaysdte! Visit her page for more food/fashion/lifestyle goodness.

A post shared by Waterbar SF (@waterbarsf) on

Asparagus and Fava Bean Ravioli anyone? #dogpatchsf #lazydaysonthebay #missionrock

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4. Cool Bars with Craft Beers and Awesome Views

People argue over where to find the best beers in town all the time and that's because there’s just too many to choose from! With each offering their own take on what “best beer” means, take your time exploring as many as possible if you’re serious about your brew.

City Beer Store has been around for ages and they continue to kill it with new flavors entering the craft beer scene every now and again. Many travel writers and Youtube guides have offered their take on the beer selection, with stories behind each pint. So far, reviewers have plenty of splendid things to say! The Beer Nerds are exactly what they play themselves out to be - a bunch of beer nerds who serve an awesome, ice cold pint together with delicious pizza. If you’re, however, on a date, head over the casual but slightly more-romantic Beer Hall where the drinks, food, and music are on point! And if you like to cool the fire of Mexican menu with beer while watching the sunset, Seven Stills & Hard Frescos is THE place for it.

If you want a place with a view, there're tons to choose from! Sip your champagne while soaking in the sights of the Bay, SF skyline and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge from Top of the Mark near Mark Hopkins Hotel (you don’t have to stay there to enjoy the bar, you know) where it presents you with a Webster-dictionary type of award-winning culinary delights, or you can scrape up the last morsel of gold standard seafood fare and tantalizing wine from Waterbar (just south of the “Cupid’s Span” sculpture) which will also host the Oktoberfest this year (2018). They’re both prime examples of bars with waterfront views suitable for both private and professional meetups.

With the lulling sounds from the beach adjacent, Mission Rock Resort runs a bi-level seafood restaurant, an oyster bar with decks that overlook the calming bay. Every Monday to Friday, from 3 pm to 7 pm, they offer Marin Miyagi Oysters for $.99, draft beer for $5, house wine for $8 and Happy Hour cocktails for $7 each.

The list goes on below so, pop over to their website and check out their offerings before your trip to San Francisco.
best craft beers are always brewing everywhere in San Francisco, CA
Source: Karolina Szczur - Unsplash

5. It all Boils Down to Smart Budgeting and Money

Reality strikes - how much can you, should you, or do you want to spend on a trip to San Francisco? While you should have worked things out while putting up the itinerary or chartering the bus for your group trip, unexpected things CAN happen and when it does, you can’t help but throw it off track for a bit.

It’s safe to say you would spend about $3 on coffee, $5 average on a pint of beer, and $5 for a regular burger. Save for the occasional splurge, it’s not a REALLY expensive city if you stay true to your budget because we’ve known worse. Cash-Only stores might have you scrambling for an ATM but the machines are everywhere; just note that there’s a fee charged to your account every time you take money out.

As with most parts of the United States, San Francisco runs on a rather antiquated system of cash, credit, and tips. Tipping is a controversial topic on travel websites because many countries around the world don’t adhere to the same style of doing business. People are always asking, “WHY?”, “How do I know?” and “How much?”. Tipping, we’ll say, contributes significantly to the entire dining experience. Tips make a difference to your servers and those manning the kitchen too. The cash is pooled together at the end of the day and shared out amongst the wait and kitchen staff and since they sometimes don’t get paid what they should, tipping is expected. Unless the situation was terrible and you want to make a statement (instead of writing a damning fiery review on Yelp).

If you’re coming into San Francisco from overseas, downloading the XE app will do you good. But we think you should compare the San Francisco experience to what you get here instead of comparing it to your home country or other cities. That’s the only fun way to completely immerse yourself in all the eclecticness of SF without counting coins every other minute.

Revel in San Francisco’s Intoxicating Blend of Culture, Food and Outdoor Destinations

I hope the above makes a difference in how you enjoy this amazing city. It has a little of everything - something loud, something calming, something delicious, something completely awkward - the city is an open book for everyone regardless of age. It's also amazing for all types of trips ranging from day-trips, field trips, wedding receptions, corporate functions, sports outing, team-building events, church retreats, bachelor or bachelorette parties, or an annual gathering for the entire family.

ride around in the comfort of a San Francisco charter bus

You’re always open to build your own trip, go off the beaten path, head out beyond the San Francisco downtown area, enjoy kid-friendly activities, attractions and parks, or hunt down the best sunrise and sunset in the city. My advice is to craft it how you like it.

Serving You with Affordable Charter Buses and Coaches in San Francisco, California

California is a massive state...a FUN, gargantuan state. If you want to effortlessly get around in a group, renting a coach bus comes recommended. This cuts time and budget, saves you the headache of driving around, maneuvering around notorious rush hour traffic and takes away the stress of going purple-faced looking for a parking spot at a popular tourist attraction.

We have for you to choose from:
  • 49 - 57 passenger coaches
  • ADA accessible charter buses
  • school buses
  • 14 - 35 passenger minibuses
  • star coaches
  • crew buses
  • executive coaches
  • and corporate cars like Lincoln, Cadillac, Armored Escalade and executive SUVs
Bus Rentals San Francisco is in the business of helping you find and secure charter buses, mini buses, coaches, corporate cars, vans and sleeper coaches for anything from an overnight trip to a cross-country vacation. With a charter bus at your disposal, hop in and hop out at your destination and then get back on for the next. So, if you’re ready to paint the town red till the wee hours of the morning, want to make a trip to Alcatraz or are all buzzed up for a golf championship in SF, call us right now!

Getting a charter bus rental quote from us is free and you’re not obligated to go with us at the end of your search. We’ll even help you do a price comparison and then match the price! Get started right now by calling 1-800-304-1993 or contact us via email with this form.

We’re ready when you are!