San Francisco was founded in 1776 Spanish colonists who named the area after St. Francis of Assisi. The population boomed during the gold rush of 1849 when people from across the country headed west to try to find their fortune. Throughout its history, San Francisco has been home to activism, whether it was protesting Vietnam, fighting for gay rights, or leading the Summer of Love. San Francisco is a beautiful city with a progressive spirit that still thrives today.
With its cool summers, rolling hills, and proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay, it’s no wonder San Francisco is such a popular tourist spot. The city has more than 40 hills with heights as high as 1,000 feet. The temperature is perfect all year round, ranging between 45F and 75F.
The Financial District is located in the northeast part of the city between Market Street and the water. Here you’ll find the big shopping district and upscale hotels. From downtown, you can take the city’s famous cable cars to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 where fishing for Dungeness crab is the norm. You can also access the famous Lombard Street from here, as well as Little Italy, Telegraph Hill, and the oldest Chinatown in North America.
In the south lies Haight-Ashbury, the center of the hippie movement which now retains some of its counterculture vibe, while also being home to upscale boutiques and even some national chain stores.
If you’re looking for some outdoor adventures, head to the Muir Wood National Monument and hike through a landscape of giant redwoods. Or spend some time at Baker Beach soaking up the sun next to the Golden Gate Bridge.
There are so many things to do in San Francisco that you’ll find something no matter what your taste. Spend the day exploring the three miles stretch of Golden Gate Park. Book a tour of Alcatraz Island, or visit one of their many world class museums, restaurants, and bars.
When flying to San Francisco, you’ll be arriving at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). There are four terminals here: terminals 1 through 3 and an international terminal. Because of the fog in the area, flight delays are not uncommon.
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From the International terminal, you can take the Bay Area Rapid Transit Rapid Rail (BART) to the city. Total travel time is about 40 minutes.
If you prefer a taxi, they are available at every baggage claim. It will take about a half hour to get to the city via cab. SFO is also very accommodating to services like Uber and Lyft. If you’re interested in ride sharing, there are several companies that offer van rides to and from the city. You don’t need to pre-book for rides to San Francisco but if you’re going to use this service to return to the airport, you’ll need to schedule a pickup ahead of time.
As for buses, SamTrans provides 24-hour service between the airport and various areas in and around San Francisco. You can also get one from the terminal to the rental car center or the Airport Business Center. Most nearby hotels will also offer free shuttle service to and from the airport.
The rental car center is home to at least seven different car rental agencies or you can get a free shuttle to those located away from the airport.
AirTrain is a free 24-hour train service that goes around the airport with stops at the Rental Car Center, short term parking, and the BART station.
There are several airport lounges that you can pay to use if you’re flying economy class. If you have time to spare, there are also three nap rooms available in the international terminal. The rates vary depending on how long you want to use the room, and there are showers available for an additional fee.
Free unlimited Wi-Fi is available throughout the airport. There are also interactive Flight Deck kiosks in Terminal 3 near Boarding Area E where you can get information about the airport and the city itself. If you need to charge your smartphone, you’ll find mobile charging stations available for a fee in Terminal 1 and Terminal 3.
There are a lot of interesting things to do at SFO if you need to pass some time. There’s an aquarium inside of Terminal 1 that’s open 24 hours a day. In the international terminal, you’ll find the Aviation Museum. Permanent and rotating art exhibits are spread throughout all terminals. There’s also a museum with 40 exhibits that’s open 24 hours a day.
If you’re traveling with children, you’ll appreciate the SFO Kids’ Spot areas. One is located in Terminal 2 and there are two in Terminal 3. All are accessible 24 hours a day. You’ll also easily find nursing rooms and family restrooms.
There’s a spa for when you need to unwind, a reading room, reflection room, and yoga room for when you need to find some peace and quiet, and work stations where you can charge your phone and laptop for free. If you’re missing your furry friend, keep an eye out for the Wag Brigade, dogs wearing vests that read “Pet me!” that are trained to help travelers de-stress.
If you want to shop, there are four duty free gallerias throughout SFO. Food concessions vary, but there are a few 24-hour options.