Being in San Francisco is an experience like no other. Whether it's the tech scene, the foodie culture, or the inescapable traffic — this city has a bit of everything (pun intended). Below, we'll go over some tips for getting around cheaply, some of our favorite things to do for free, and a few of our favorite restaurants whether you're on a budget or not. Let's start with transportation since it can be incredibly frustrating trying to get around the city.
The biggest key to not spending a fortune on lavish hotels and transportation in San Francisco. The city is broken up into neighborhoods, each with its own unique flavor and attractions. If you're looking to explore different areas, we recommend using the Muni system. Muni is the public transportation system in San Francisco and it can get you anywhere in the city for just $2.75 per ride. You can also buy a day pass for $7.00 or a week pass for $21.00 which will give you unlimited rides on all of Muni's buses, streetcars, and cable cars. And if you're planning on doing a lot of sightseeing, we recommend picking up the San Francisco CityPASS. The CityPASS gives you access to six of the city's top attractions including Alcatraz Island, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Exploratorium for just $89.00.
If you have a specific destination in mind, use public transportation or ride-sharing apps to get there instead of driving. If you're just exploring the city, stick to walking or biking — it's the best way to see everything and you won't have to worry about finding (and paying for) parking.
Now that we've covered how to get around, let's talk about some of our favorite things to do in San Francisco that won't cost you a dime. One of our favorites is taking a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. Not only is it a great workout, but the views are unbeatable. Another great option is exploring one of the many parks in the city — our personal favorites are Alamo Square Park and Dolores Park.
10 Affordable Attractions in San Francisco
- The Golden Gate Bridge is a great place to walk, bike, or drive across and offers some of the best views of the city.
- Alamo Square Park is a beautiful park with plenty of green space to relax in.
- Dolores Park is perfect for people watching and spending time outdoors.
- The Mill is our favorite place for breakfast in San Francisco. They have delicious coffee and pastries.
- Burma Superstar is one of the best places for lunch or dinner if you're looking for something hearty and filling. Plus, it's very reasonably priced.
- Ghirardelli Square is a must-visit for anyone with a sweet tooth. They offer free samples of their chocolate and there are plenty of great photo ops.
- Lombard Street is one of the most iconic streets in San Francisco and it's definitely worth checking out. Just be prepared to walk up a lot of hills!
- The Presidio is a large park with plenty of trails to explore. It's a great place to get some fresh air and take in the views.
- Fisherman's Wharf is a popular tourist destination, but it's still worth visiting if you're looking for some good seafood. Just be sure to bargain with the vendors for the best prices.
- San Francisco is home to some of the best museums in the world, many of which offer free admission days or discounted rates for students. Some of our favorites include the Museum of Modern Art, the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, and the Asian Art Museum.
How To Optimize Your San Francisco Budget
Now that you know a few tips for getting around and saving money, let's go over some of our favorite ways to save even more.
Finally, let's talk about food. San Francisco is home to some of the best restaurants in the country, but that doesn't mean they're all expensive. If you're on a budget, there are plenty of great places to eat — you just have to know where to look.
- Glazier is a cafe in San Francisco that is perfect for those on a budget. They have a wide variety of sandwiches, salads, and pastries that are all very reasonably priced. Plus, the atmosphere is cozy and inviting, making it the perfect place to relax and unwind.
- Cafe De Casa is another great option for budget-minded travelers. They offer a wide variety of Spanish-inspired dishes that are all very affordable. Plus, the food is absolutely delicious.
- Acme Bread is the perfect place to go if you're looking for fresh, handmade bread. The prices are very reasonable and the bread is absolutely delicious.
- The Baked Bear is a great place to get your sweet fix without spending a lot of money. They offer a wide variety of ice cream sandwiches that are all very reasonably priced. Plus, the ice cream is made with top-quality ingredients and the sandwiches are always fresh and warm.
- Mo's Grill is a great place to get a quick and affordable meal. They offer a wide variety of sandwiches, burgers, and salads that are all very reasonably priced. Plus, the food is always fresh and delicious.
- Golden Boy Pizza is one of our favorite places for pizza in San Francisco. The prices are very reasonable and the pizzas are always fresh and delicious. Plus, they offer a wide variety of toppings to choose from, so you can customize your pizza to your liking.
Hopefully, these tips will help you make the most of your time (and money) in San Francisco. Remember, this city has a lot to offer so get out there and explore it!