San Francisco can be a hard place to navigate. Especially if you are visiting for just a few days. There are so many options when it comes to getting around and it can become overwhelming. Here is my list of tips to make traveling around the city a little easier.
- Drive Your Own Car: This is still the best way to travel around the city if you are trying to cover a lot of ground. Just know parking can cost up to $10 an hour in places. It is usually tough to find those coveted parking spots on the street as well. If you do happen upon them, make sure you bring lots of quarters. There are also some car garages with lower day rates. We use the Best Parking app. It will help you see the hourly and day rate prices for each garage.
- Use Parking Panda: ParkingPanda.com is a great website we use to reserve a parking space ahead of time. Lots of hotels and work places around San Francisco that normally charge $10 an hour will give you deep discounts for taking up their empty spaces in advance. We have parked at the 2620 Hotel a couple blocks from Pier 39 for $15 for the entire day. It was perfect walking distance from Lombard, Ghirardelli Square, and the piers.
- Find FREE Parking: There are lots of free places you can park and then walk. Battery Godfrey is a great place to park for free by the Golden Gate Bridge. We usually park there and then can walk down to the Welcome Center. You can park at the Pier 39 Parking Garage and get the first 2 hours free with your AAA membership by going to the California Welcome Center on level 2.
- Take an Uber: If you don’t have a car or are considering leaving it at the hotel Uber can be a great way to get a taxi ride to places a little further out where it would be too far to walk. They always have had super fast service and pretty reasonable prices. This can save you a lot of money and time because parking in the city can be a nightmare.
- Cable Cars: A must do in San Francisco. Here is the Guide to Riding the Cable Cars. They have three different routes. Powell/Hyde -ends at Ghirardelli Square and also has a stop where you can exit at the top of the hill and walk down the famous Lombard Street. Powell/Mason -Also passes close to Lombard Street but at the bottom of the hill. This is the best line to take to get to Fisherman’s Wharf near Pier 39. California/Van Ness rides through the Financial District and Nob Hill. Cable Car Fares are located here. You can flag them down and pay $7 cash for a one way ride or buy an all day pass for $21. Children 4 and under are FREE! All day passes are good for any MUNI transportation including buses and streetcars. Make sure to check out the Cable Car Museum too. There you can see the actual cables that pull the cars around and get a cool history of how they came about.
- Municipal Historic Street Cars: It took us a couple of trips to San Francisco to figure out how to ride these historic streetcars. They are fabulous! You must pay with cash and bring exact change! You have 90 minutes to use your fare ticket. Tickets purchased after 8:30 pm allow you to ride all night long on a single fare. A regular adult, single ride ticket is $2.50, youth 5-18 is $1.25, children under 4 are FREE! The E and F Lines run along Embarcadero Road. The stops are on island like platforms in the middle of the street. Hop on and then pull the yellow top cord to request a stop.
- Buses: There are several buses you can hop on and off. Just type in the directions in the maps app on your phone and hit the use transit button. Here are Routes and Stops on SFMTA. To make public transportation even easier get the MuniMobile app.
- Presidigo shuttle: Free on weekends this shuttle has several routes. The Dowtown shuttle goes from the Golden Gate Bridge (where you can park for free at Battery Godfrey) all the way to the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. There is also a PreidiGo route that just takes you around the Presidio.
- Bikes: You will see lots of tourists and locals on their bikes. It is a great way to get around the city and get a little exercise. Check out Streets of San Francisco Bike Tours or Bay City Bike Rentals & Tours. You can go on a specific tour around the city or just rent a bike for the day or a few hours. This is especially fun if you want to ride down the Embarcadero and across the Golden Gate Bridge.
- CalTrain: A great way to get to San Francisco. The last stop is at AT&T Park. Fare prices are dependent on how many zones you want to travel in. The trains come very regularly but it does take a while to get places. Go online to view the schedules for train departures and arrivals.
- BART: Another great way to get to the city. Mainly used by locals to commute. Here are the ticket prices and schedule.
- Blue and Gold Fleet/Ferry: There are several ferries to take you across the bay. You can hop on a ferry to AT&T Park, Angle Island, Harbor Bay, Oakland/Alameda, Sausalito, South of San Francisco, Tiburon, and Vallejo. All tickets can be purchased online and are one way tickets. You have to buy two tickets to make the round trip. Ticket prices vary depending on where you want to go.
Do you know any other ways to get around the city? I’d love to hear about them. Now that you know how to get around see my other post of The Ultimate List of Things To Do In San Francisco.