Back before Bill Cosby became a dirty word, he had a comedy routine about driving in San Francisco that should be required listening for every driver who wants to drive in San Francisco. They should have a kiosk at the airport with his album “Why is there Air?” playing and then you should have to sign an affidavit that you have listened to it before they let you rent a car. There should also be large billboards at the outskirts of town that simply prohibit driving in San Francisco with a manual transmission.
Sweatshirt or Jacket
You see a lot of tourists around San Francisco wearing sweatshirts they just bought on Fisherman’s Wharf. Many of them did not pack a sweatshirt because it was summer and they were heading to California. Clearly they don’t recall that Mark Twain quote that the coldest winter he ever spent was that summer he spent in San Francisco. While in the summer it can easily be over one hundred degrees in Sacramento or 90 degrees in San Jose, it might not get out of the 50s or 60s in San Francisco during many days. The best weather in San Francisco is often September. TravelSavyMom recommends a cashmere sweater instead, but my guess is that she dresses better than me. Long pants are also recommended.
San Francisco is built on hills but for someone in decent shape I still think that the best way to experience San Francisco is to get out and walk. While it is fun to drive down the “crookedest street in the world” Lombard street (and more than a little scary to drive up to it), you get a better view of Lombard street as a pedestrian. My mother-in-law broke a set of heels trying to do just a little walking in San Francisco. This is not a city for heels. This is a city for sensible shoes. So bring some good walking shoes and then walk out on the Golden Gate bridge to get great views of the city (don’t forget that sweatshirt).
The Amateur Traveler has done 3 episodes on San Francisco and all three advised a fair amount of walking:
- Soundseeing Tour 1 – San Francisco (part 1)
- Soundseeing Tour 1 – San Francisco (part 2)
- San Francisco, California – Episode 159
- Travel to San Francisco, California â€“ Episode 622
This city is a wonderful place for photographers no matter what the weather. There is no photo that cannot be improved by a cable car riding by. Besides, taking a picture gives you an excuse to stop walking so that people don’t know you are really out of breath from walking the hills.
This is the home of Levi Strauss and in many local businesses (high tech not banking) what the east coast thinks is business casual here is considered as dressing up. You can dress nicer for dinner or the theatre but do it because you want to not because you think it is expected.
A Roll of Quarters
San Francisco is a great city to ride public transportation. If all the cars in San Francisco were to stop and try and find parking at the same time there would not be enough places to park. The system only works at all because some people are driving at any time. So kellieparker recommends “a roll of quarters for exact change on the bus (fare is $1.50)”. Cable car fares are $5.00 one way for adults and youth.
MikeTRose says “Allergy medications. For some reason, East Coasters like me get the sniffles in SF.” It is quite possible that Mike has an allergy to mold or mildew. San Francisco gets wrapped in a blanket of fog most nights and so it can stay pretty damp which can be refreshing or vexing, depending on your expectations. But it is a paradise for molds and people with allergies should take note.