On a Budget: 7 things to do in San Francisco
By Abby Berman Mazenod
I will be honest. I am no expert on anything San Francisco. In fact, when my husband and I went a few weeks ago, it was my first time going in my adult life…which is pretty embarrassing considering we live only 5 hours away. Luckily, we have some awesome friends, Dave and Camila, who were willing to give us an authentic “touristy” tour, while still being mindful of our budget. So here’s a little list of some things you can do on your weekend getaway that won’t break the bank, but will still make you feel like you’re getting the whole Golden City experience.
(Quick words of advice: Bring a warm jacket, comfortable shoes, and be ready to walk.)
1. Take the BART into San Francisco
Cost: $4 each way
Save yourself the trouble and headache of trying to navigate the San Francisco streets and hills while giving yourself an authentic experience. Driving in from Los Angeles on a Friday, hours away, we were already hitting traffic in Silicon Valley. Taking the BART into the city and avoiding the last leg of our drive altogether was the best solution ever. This is a true Bay area experience that you do not want to miss out on. Parking at Millbrae Station is free from Friday to Sunday, and the ride in takes less than 30 minutes. It’s definitely worth the $$.
2. Watch a Giants game at AT&T Park
Cost: $36+ depending on the time of the season and the opposing team
First, it must be mentioned that this is rated by many as the most beautiful stadium in America. Looking out over the bay, the view from even the cheap seats is still incredible. This is a city very proud of their stadium and their team. Everywhere we went everyone was proudly sporting their Giants gear. So when in San Francisco, do as the San Franciscans… go to a Giants game! If you feel like a ticket isn’t in your budget, or you really don’t want to sit through a whole game, you can also watch from outside the fence in right field. They allow 75 people in for 3 innings at a time, and it’s free!
3. Go back to a “far out” time at Haight-Ashbury
This cross street is a historic landmark, know for being one of the foundational places of the hippie movement. It still maintains that 60’s flair with head shops, record stores, and free-lovin’ wearers of tie dye t-shirts. Take a picture of the street sign…everyone else will too.
4. Visit the Grateful Dead house
Located right off of Haight-Ashbury at 710 Ashbury St., this Victorian row house was home to the Grateful Dead and is also said to be the birthplace of their sound. In the time of the Hippie Movement, it was know for being a safe-haven to any passer by who needed food or a place to stay. If you stop by now, there will definitely be some Dead Heads hanging out front and taking pictures.
5. Take a cable car ride to Fisherman’s Wharf
This is the place “Where little cable cars, reach halfway to the stars”… so why not take one? As the last manual cable car system in the world,this is a bona fide symbol of San Francisco, and the experience of riding through the rolling hills of the city is unforgettable. It’s also really fun! If you take the Powell-Mason line, you can ride it all the way from the Powell Market turntable to Fisherman’s Wharf. Just try to have exact change, it’ll make it easier for the operator, and faster for the people waiting behind you in line.
6. Visit the Sea-Lions at Pier 39
Okay…this is SUPER COOL!!! This pier is the comfortable lounging area for hundreds of sea-lions. They are absolutely beautiful, and you can just watch them sunbathing while also getting an incredible view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. This is also the home to some great bars, restaurants, street performers and souvenir shops. At the low cost of… FREE, this is a cannot miss for anyone wanting to see some memorable sites.
7. Have a picnic at Golden Gate Park
The legendary Golden Gate Park. With botanical gardens, a japanese tea garden, an aquarium, museums, and even a carousel, this is a great place to spend your afternoon and get in some excellent people watching. Bring a blanket, frisbee, and pack for a picnic… just don’t forget a sweater because it’s sure to get chilly at some point.
Happy travels & enjoy your trip!