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Top 5 Things to Know Before You Come to San Francisco

Updated on April 9, 2013
Fog rolling in on Golden Gate Bridge
Fog rolling in on Golden Gate Bridge | Source

1. SAN FRANCISCO WEATHER: San Francisco has lots of micro-climates.The weather changes from neighborhood to neighborhood, street to street.

The daily average temperature is about 55-65 degrees, but in some inner-areas it can get up to 70-75, and in some outer-areas it can get as low as 55 with wet winds.

So the best way to be prepared for this is to wear “layers” - always bring a sweater or a jacket... even if the sun is out! (It can be truly deceiving!) In the summer, the fog starts rolling in at about 3:30 - 4:00PM and when it does, the temperature drops about 15-20 degrees and it get quite chilly and sometimes windy.

But as soon as the fog is in, it insulates the city and we have mild tempered nights. In the winter, it is normally a mild 50-55 degrees or so with a little fog, lots of sun and rain in January & February.

The warmest weather in San Francisco is in mid-July to late September - this is known as our “Indian Summer”.

2. SAN FRANCISCO RESTAURANTS: San Francisco has over 3,400 restaurants and most of them are independently owned and original to the Bay Area. This being said, you will find few chain restaurants or fast food spots.

(And trust me this is a good thing!) Instead of McDonalds and Taco Bell, you will find one of a kind burger joints and taquerias that would put these icons to shame.

So when you come to San Francisco, come with an empty belly and an open mind. You will be more than satisfied that you did!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Haight street market in the Haight San FranciscoChinatown San FranciscoDown Town Market street
Haight street market in the Haight San Francisco
Haight street market in the Haight San Francisco | Source
Chinatown San Francisco
Chinatown San Francisco | Source
Down Town Market street
Down Town Market street | Source

3. SAN FRANCISCO NEIGHBORHOODS: San Francisco is an awful big, yet a small city being only 7 miles by 7 miles, and within these 49 square miles there are many different neighborhoods that make this city unique and mini destination within themselves.

Unfortunately, these neighborhoods are often overlooked by the average tourist since they are not as commonly known as the famous the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.

But trust me you do not want to miss out on this one of a kind experience. These neighborhoods give you blocks of culture, food, entertainment & beauty from Italian to Russian, Chinese to Mexican - and just about everything else in between.

So I encourage you to get out from downtown and the Wharf, get on a local bus and go explore one of many San Francisco’s neighborhoods.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
MUNI lite rail at Ocean Beach turnaroundMUNI BusCable Car at Powell & Market
MUNI lite rail at Ocean Beach turnaround
MUNI lite rail at Ocean Beach turnaround | Source
MUNI Bus | Source
Cable Car at Powell & Market
Cable Car at Powell & Market | Source

4. SAN FRANCISCO TRANSPORTATION: While visiting San Francisco There’s NO need for a car, unless you want to travel more than 20 miles outside of the city because San Francisco transportation is one of the best public systems in the world.

There’s a bus or cable car to take you anywhere you want or need to go in the city or the closer Bay Area. Why take public transportation instead of driving? I’ll tell you a few reasons why:

1- Parking is way too expensive and a competitive sport out here! Most hotels are about $40-$60 a day to park overnight & a lot of hotels don’t even offer parking. Garages are packed and expensive with limiting hours on when you can get your car in and out. And lastly, the parking meters are $.25 for 10 minutes, which means you are paying $2.50 per hour (in quarters) to park! It can take you up to 45 min. to find a spot.

2 - One way streets- San Francisco is full of them, if you look at a street map of the city, you will see it works like a grid system, which is remarkably easy for our buses, but confusing and difficult for drivers, especially those that are not familiar with the area.

3 - Traffic. Everyone hates traffic, so why even bring it up while you are on vacation!?!

So with, all this said, I highly recommend that if you come to San Francisco use our MUNI buses, light rails, cable cars or BART to get to where you want to go and leave the headache of a car behind!

San Francisco Cable Car

5. SAN FRANCISCO HOMELESS: Unfortunately this is a topic that is sad yet it is all too real to the city of San Francisco. The homeless population is a significant part of our downtown neighborhoods, and you can be sure that you will encounter at least one person panhandling.

This behavior is not encouraged nor is it supported by the city officials, and it should not be by you either! Most “spare changers” (panhandlers) make a good amount of money from the tourists, some up to $300 a day, and then turn around and spend that money on an inferior drug or alcohol habit.

So the only way to stop this behavior is don't give into it. If you honestly feel compelled to give, contact your hotel concierge and ask for the location of a Salvation Army or shelter, give your money to an organization that you know will benefit from the gift rather that perpetuate the cycle of addiction


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    • INFJay profile image

      Jay Manriquez 4 years ago from Santa Rosa, California

      I completely agree with your top 5 must knows about San Francisco. The weather is definitely #1. I can't count the number of times friends or family have questioned me when I tell them to bring a sweater or light coat. Every time I cross the Golden Gate Bridge during the summer months there are always tourists in shorts and tee-shirts shivering and confused about a San Francisco summer.