San Francisco is a magical cosmopolitan city; known popularly as the city by the bay, it has evoked songs, poems and popular sayings. Rich in cultural attractions, it is both liberal bastion and commercial hub with tech-hot Silicon Valley reaching north and embracing the city with global headquarter giants like Twitter, Pinterest, and SalesForce. Think Napa Valley, the Golden Gate Bridge, Ghirardelli Square, North Beach, Alcatraz and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. You need to plan ahead!
Getting from the airport to the city centre
San Francisco has two major airports – SFO (San Francisco International) and Oakland International (OAK). SFO has more international flights, but OAK is not as far away as you may think. If your destination in San Francisco is the Financial District or Union Square, OAK is only 3 or 4 miles further away from where you are going than SFO and with OAK, flight prices tend to be more competitive and the airport parking is cheaper. If it’s just you and your carry-on, consider flying in and out of OAK.
BART is the fast, easy, inexpensive way to get to San Francisco. Trains arrive at the SFO International Terminal every 15 minutes and it’s just 30 minutes to downtown San Francisco. The BART station at SFO is located in the International Terminal and a one-way ticket from SFO to downtown is $8.65; arriving visitors can pre-purchase an SFO BART Voucher to make it even easier.
The Oakland Airport BART station is located just across from the Terminal 1 baggage claim area and a short walk from Terminal 2. An adult fare between OAK BART and downtown San Francisco is currently $10.20 one way. More information about trains between OAK and San Francisco.
If Silicon Valley is on your itinerary, SFO is located just north. From SFO, if you are driving, head south on 101, or take a taxi or CalTrains to reach the environs of the Valley.
San Francisco is a city made for your pedometer-toting tush. The sprawling hills provide a fabulous and scenic walking workout and the city is so charming and filled with so much to see, you will want to put on your comfiest shoes and hit the streets. Moscone and Embarcadero Convention Centers are within the city environs as are most of the major hotels, so you can anticipate walking, hopping in a taxi, or taking the bus to attend city conventions.
If you have any spare time and want to live like a local, rent a bike and cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge. This is the way to see one of the most world’s famous landmarks up close and personal. However, a warning: the scenery is spectacular, so pay attention! For rentals, try Blazing Saddles or San Francisco Bicycle Rentals; they will outfit you with all you need from helmets, to locks and maps. Once there, you have earned yourself the perfect end to a perfect day. Cycle over to the Buena Vista at Hyde and Beach for an Irish coffee. After this adventure, you will understand why beloved local columnist Herb Caen said: “One day if I do go to heaven, I’ll look around and say, it ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.”
Getting Around San Francisco
MUNI/San Francisco Municipal operates buses, trains, cable cars and the F-line heritage streetcar. Be sure to pack your sense of adventure because bus stops might be small bus shelters, yellow paint on street poles, or white paint on streets. Metro stops can be found on an island in the middle of the street and stations. Use this Metro Map nearest to find stops near your locations.
Yes, just like in the movies, San Francisco features historical cable cars and street cars and you need to hop aboard at least once to round out your SF adventure. You can pay the conductor on board or purchase tickets at multiple locations.
If you plan on really touring the area, check out Visitor Passports and CityPASS because they provide unlimited rides on Muni, Muni Metro, historic streetcars, and cable cars. There are multiple locations throughout the city to purchase tickets and day passes.
Local Eateries and Bar Hotspots
San Francisco is famous for much, but the city by this bay is literally worshipped by foodies and for good reason. You might ask a colleague: Do you prefer Chinese? Mexican? Well, you can and should ask the same of San Francisco because the answer will be: Take your pick! There is everything from Michelin-starred chic eateries, to trendy, nouveau cuisine (whatever is a la momento you will find in San Francisco), to street vendors serving first-class fare. There truly is cuisine for every palate and budget and if you are in meetings at Embarcadero or Moscone Convention Centers, these fabulous eateries are just a walk, or short taxi ride away.
If you crave fresh seafood, take a walk to Fisherman’s Wharf where you can buy from local fishermen a paper cup spilling over with fresh caught shrimp. And while you’re on the move, you should line up like a local to order your own uniquely made steaming cup of Philz famous coffee, available in six locations throughout the city.
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest in North America, as famous for its local, often rustic fare, as much as a more upscale California-Asian influence. But, if a “truck stop” is more your style, the El Gallo Giro Taco Truck & La Taqueria at 969 Treat Avenue is purported to have the best carnitas and tacos and yes, they are sold out of a truck and purported to be divine!
Impress clients at chic and stylish Ghirardelli Square. Its newest restaurant, Waxman’s, is by local celebrity chef Jonathan Waxman. With California and Italian inspired cuisine, the menu features local, fresh picked goods and a menu reflecting what Northern California farmers and purveyors have in season each day.
Another perfect spot for that important client dinner is SF Eater. This site keeps close tabs on what’s new, hot and sizzling. It’s updated regularly and includes maps, contact info and links to OpenTable and Foursquare for reservations.
There can be no other North American city that offers such a variety of nightlife and entertainment options as San Francisco. Dating back to the 60’s and the Haight Ashbury District, the city was the very birthplace of the LGBT community and to this day, if it’s wild, edgy and new, San Francisco offers it. Today, gay-friendly bars and clubs abound throughout the city, with Castro, SoMa, and Polk Street areas most popular. The city is rich with wine bars, sultry jazz bars, Happy Hours, karaoke and anything else your imagination might fancy.
Some of the top DJs, including Calvin Harris in the world have spun at Ruby Skye. This club and bar is located in the heart of downtown SF off Union Square and is a trendy upscale lounge that also hosts bands, fashion shows, dance nights, private events, and more. This is where you go if you are looking to gawk at celebrities!
The Marina District has a more urbane, business clientele – with plenty of wild served on the side – while the chic, artsy Mission district features everything from dive bar hopping to cozy, intimate dance space.
The evening entertainment options this city offers are simply staggering. Live theater, ballet, opera, Broadway shows, comedy clubs, and more. Consult San Francisco Theater to review all the shows this glorious city has to offer and book your tickets.
For the Health and Fitness Conscious
Every visitor to San Francisco should plan on power walking because not only is it great exercise, but it’s an awesome opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture. Whilst on your trek, make sure you see Lombard Street, affectionately known as “San Francisco’s Crookedest Street”; it’s a world famous tourist destination and features a labyrinthine walk featured on many postcards.
If you want to run through this enchanting city, mapmyrun.com offers hundreds of running routes with maps, elevations and distances, so you can plan, track, analyze and share your journey. Download the free app today because it covers just about anywhere your trainers will take you!
Gym facilities that offer day passes and discounts to visitors:
Studio Mix is a 30,000 square foot facility in the heart of the city on Van Ness Street. It offers a day pass for only $20. with an endless variety of classes, chiropractic services, acupuncture, and almost anything your body beautiful desires.
Crunch is a famous chain with six locations in San Francisco, the favourite on Polk Street. Get a free 3-day pass online and enjoy the burn!
The shopping in San Francisco is simply breathtaking. What you seek, you shall find. Popular department stores, such as Nordy’s (Nordstrom’s), Saks, and Neiman Marcus, stand alongside unique boutiques and outlet stores.
When it comes to retail therapy, the neighborhoods with the most clout include Union Square, Hayes Valley, Haight-Ashbury, upper Fillmore, the Mission, Sacramento Street, and Chinatown. Downtown’s Westfield San Francisco Shopping Center is the quintessence of in vogue shopping, offering edgy style with one-of-a-kind shops. This guide should help you narrow the field by neighborhood and also guide you to the plethora of vintage and consignment options.
Fancy Something a Bit Different?
Silicon Valley is a fairly easy day trip from San Francisco. You can either drive, taking 101 or 280 South; expect to hit Palo Alto in about 45 minutes, depending on traffic. San Jose is that distance again, but CalTrains can transfer you via a clean, safe ride that stops at most of the major intersections in the Valley.
Rudyard Kipling perhaps said it best: “San Francisco has only one drawback. ‘Tis hard to leave”.
Right, that’s your itinerary covered. Now for all your business hotel booking needs, Roomex has you covered. No costs, no fees, no contracts, it’s a no-brainer. Request a demo to see why it’s so popular with Office Managers and Personal Assistants.
Looking for the inside track on all of USA’s highlights? Download our Ultimate USA City Guide for Business Travellers below. We’ve covered all the main business capitals and we’re adding a new city every week. If you know someone who travels a lot on business, download it below for free and share it with them!
REMEMBER YOU STILL HAVE A CHANCE TO ENTER THE ROOMEX GIVEAWAY FOR A HOTEL BREAK IN BERLIN. CLICK THE LINK FOR MORE DETAILS.