Francisco: A Traveller's Guide
Francisco, California Family Vacation
Francisco Tourist Attractions
Francisco: A Traveller's Guide by BCD Express Travel
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Rentals in San Francisco
Diverse and dynamic
San Francisco's geography
makes it one of the United States' most unique cities. The city lies between
the ocean, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the redwood forests and the California
desert. Sitting atop the San Andreas Fault, San Francisco has been shaped
by earthquakes - in particular the legendary 1906 quake and subsequent
fires, which destroyed 80 percent of its structures.
San Francisco has more than
50 hills within city limits and some neighborhoods are named after the
hill on which they are situated, including Nob Hill, Pacific Heights, and
San Francisco is a bustling
city rich in ethnic diversity, with an eclectic bohemian subculture and
a myriad of languages, customs, shops and restaurants packed into its compact
49 square miles.
Getting to and from the
San Francisco International
airport (SFO) is located 15 miles south of downtown. The best way to get
downtown is via BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), which operates a direct
rapid rail service. To get from SFO to Embarcadero (financial district),
for example, will cost around US$8.10. The BART Station can be found on
the departures/ticketing level of the International Terminal.
Taxis are also available
and depart from designated taxi zones located at the roadway center islands,
on the arrivals/baggage claim level of all terminals. Approximate taxi
fare to downtown is US$40.
Getting around San Francisco:
Get on your bike and explore
Cross the landmark Golden Gate
Watch the sea lions from the
pier at Fisherman's Wharf
Visit the city's diverse cultural
areas - Chinatown, Italian district and Japanese quarters
A shoppers paradise for designer
wear, urban sophistication and funk
The best way to navigate
San Francisco is via the city's public transportation system Muni, which
operates nearly 100 bus lines, the streetcar system and the city's cable
cars. Tickets cost US$2.00 and free transfer tickets are available on most
Muni lines, which can be used for two connecting trips within 90 minutes
(this excludes BART and the cable car).
If you're up for a hilly
challenge, why not cycle? San Francisco is bicycle friendly and many residents
do use their bikes as their primary means of transport.
The Embarcadero, Marina Green,
and Golden Gate Park are popular cycling areas and many companies rent
bikes, such as Blazing Saddles and Bike and Roll.
Francisco Bay Bridge at Dusk Seen from Treasure Island, San Francisco,
Taxis can be flagged along
downtown streets or booked over the phone. Credit cards are generally accepted,
but double-check before getting into the cab. Tipping is customary and
drivers expect about 10 to 15 percent.
What to do:
Native San Franciscan Joyce
Cohen, director of account management & operations for BCD Travel in
the U.S. recommends a visit to the following sites, some of which won't
cost you a dime!
No trip to San Francisco
would be complete without a visit to the city's landmark - the Golden Gate
Bridge. This suspension bridge spans the Golden Gate, the opening of the
San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean, and stretches 1.7 miles long.
You can cross the bridge via car, on foot or bicycle and take in the magnificent
In the heart of San Francisco's
Golden Gate Park you will find the de Young Museum. The landmark art museum
showcases priceless collections of American art from the 17th through the
20th centuries, and art of the native Americas, Africa, and the Pacific.
Adult entrance fees are US$10, but it's worth noting that the first Tuesday
of every month is free.
Head down to the piers and
sidewalks of Fisherman's Wharf where you can glimpse the sunbathing resident
sea lions crowded onto pontoons. You will also find plenty of bay-view
restaurants and souvenir shops nearby. Take a two-hour "duck tour" onboard
a restored World War II landing craft for an excursion of the city by land
and sea, operated by Bay Quackers. Tickets cost about US$35 per person.
San Francisco's Coit Tower
is a 210-foot high Art Deco tower on Telegraph Hill. The tower contains
19 painted murals, most of which are open to the public at no charge.
The viewing platform at the
top of the tower (approx. US$3.75 entrance fee) offers sweeping views of
San Francisco Bay, Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz Island, and other area attractions.
Visit the California Academy
of Science - complete with an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history
museum, and a 4-story rainforest all under one roof. It's an architectural
achievement with hundreds of unique exhibits and nearly 40,000 live animals.
General admission adult tickets cost US$29.95.
Where to eat:
With generations of immigrants
from Asia and Europe settling in San Francisco, dining out is one of the
city's great pleasures. You can enjoy some great classic Cantonese in San
Francisco's Chinatown, which was established in the 1850's. Head to North
Beach and you'll reach the city's Italian district. If its sushi you're
after, then visit Nihonmachi where you will find a small but vibrant Japanese
community - even the local McDonald's has a slightly Japanese feel.
Here are some of Joyce's
top picks for dining on a budget:
Taylors Refresher Address:
Ferry Building Marketplace, 1 Ferry Building, Space #6 Tel: 866 328-3663
For a cheap, cheerful and
casual bite, head to Taylors Refresher. The "Eat" giant neon sign over
the ordering counter gets right to the point of what Taylor's Refresher
is all about. Grab your fill of burgers, fish and chips, sandwiches, tacos
and much more.
Yank Sing Address: 101 Spear
Street or 49 Stevenson Street Tel: 415 781 1111 / 415 541 4949 Web: www.yanksing.com
This restaurant is located
in the financial district and specializes in traditional and contemporary
Dim Sum, offering over 100 different varieties. Unlike most restaurants,
Yank Sing has no official menu. Instead food servers carry freshly cooked
dim sum, which you can request as they pass by. Open to the public during
lunch hours only, it's a great place to pop in for a quick business lunch.
Pacific Catch Address: 2027
Chestnut Street Phone: 415.440.1950 Web: www.pacificcatch.com
Pacific Catch offers great
fish and seafood dishes using local Californian ingredients, which are
infused with flavors from Asia, Latin America and Hawaii. The reasonably
priced menu includes dishes such as fish and sweet potato fries, grilled
sandwiches, Island tacos, and Japanese rice bowls. Sit back, relax and
watch the world go by.
Where to shop:
San Francisco is a haven
for shopaholics, with numerous shopping centers, districts and malls. Although
shopping in San Francisco can be an expensive venture, savvy shoppers will
find possibilities for every budget.
Mural in Mission district
Union Square is a popular
shopping haunt where you can find stores such as Macy's, Saks, Neiman Marcus,
as well as designer boutiques. Street performers can keep you entertained
as well as a visit to the nearby Theatres.
If it's urban sophistication
or funky clothing you're after, then head to Haight Street. The streets
are dotted with Victorian houses, anarchist bookstores and piercing salons,
and some shops still retain an air of the 60's hippie counter culture.
Another great place for unconventional items is the Mission district. Here
you can find offbeat boutiques and funky ethnic clothing.
Fancy something with an Asian
twist? Then walk through the red dragon gates and enter the bustling Chinatown.
Complete with ornate lampposts and pagoda roofs, Chinatown offers everything
from scented teas to vivid silks and statues of Buddha to mahogany furniture.
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Rentals in San Francisco