Things to do in San Francisco - Part 1

12:11:00 PM

     Anyone who knows me, knows that San Francisco is one of my favorite cities in the world. It never gets boring and we never run out of things to do. Shopping, eating, sight-seeing, I love it all. These days, SF trips usually consist of my daughter, sister, and I taking a road trip along the coast. Now that my daughter is older, we've taken several girls trips with a friend and her two daughters.

     By far, the most important element of our trip is location. In a city like SF - crowded, compact, expensive - you need to plan and think ahead. Hotels are notoriously expensive, so I plan our stay at least 3 months in advance so that I have time to look for the best deal on the hotel I want to book. I almost always book a hotel in the Union Square area because we spend a lot of our time shopping and exploring different parts of the city. Union Square has hundreds of great stores very centrally located, not to mention the huge Westfield San Francisco Centre on Market. Staying in the area makes it really easy to run back to your hotel to drop off bags, change, and even take a nap (seriously, all that walking gets you really tired). Union Square is also a great location for taking public transportation. If you fly in, you can take the BART right into the center of Union Square. From Union Square, you can take the cable cars or MUNI to get anywhere in the city.
    Another really important factor in deciding where to stay is traffic. Union Square IS San're already there. The entire city is just a little over 40 square miles, so everything is close. On the other hand, people who opt to stay in outlying cities like Daly City, Millbrae, Oakland, and even the airport area usually tend to regret it. Sure, hotel prices area less expensive and come with free parking (huge plus!) but there is almost always traffic getting into and out of the city. If your itinerary is centered around activities and locations in the city, then your best bet is to stay there. I have friends who had a terrible experience visiting SF because of the traffic driving in and out of the city alone.
The amazing view from our Union Square hotel room

My mini vlogger

     So, what about that expensive parking I mentioned? Yes, SF has ridiculous parking rates and hotel parking rates are even worse. I know of one small hotel in the city that offers free parking, yes FREE parking. But, its availability is first come, first serve and it's not a luxury hotel. I usually drive to SF and when I don't, I still almost always rent a car to get around. With a little planning, you can get a really great deal on a rental. We usually to take a couple of day trips away from the city, and having a car makes that really easy. I've also learned not to park in the hotel structure. No joke, hotel parking is $60-$85 PER DAY.  Chances are, you'll find a parking structure near your hotel that will save you a lot of money. Again, planning is key. After a long flight, or even longer road trip, most people pull right up to the hotel where the valet quickly helps you out and offers to park it for you. Save yourself a lot of money and take a couple of extra minutes to drive around the block and look for a structure. On my last trip, the hotel I was staying at charged $65 a day for parking. I did a little research beforehand and found a parking structure directly across the street that only charged $25 a day. That savings more than paid for my rental car and the insurance. Still, if you don't plan any trips out of the city, you can easily do without a car altogether.

Come back for Part 2 to get even more tips on fun things to do in San Francisco!


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