San Francisco on a Budget



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Trying to see San Francisco on a budget? Luckily there are many fantastic attractions and activities that hardly—or don’t at all—cost a thing! Whether you’re exploring the great outdoors, taking advantage of affordable cultural attractions, or sampling the city’s best cheap eats, you’re guaranteed to have a top-notch visit that rivals any luxury vacation.

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Author: Jessica Mordo


Day 1 - San Francisco


Start out with some fun, free activities in the urban wonderland of Golden Gate Park. Check out the gratis Strybing Arboretum & Botanical Garden for a horticultural trip around the world and the inspired greenhouse genius of the Conservatory of Flowers, where admission runs a mere $5 for adults, $3 for children 5 and up and for seniors, and is free for kids under 5. If the weather is nice, pack a picnic for a more affordable take on lunch and lounge on the lawn in front of the Conservatory for sun, people-watching, and beautifully landscaped flowers. Alternatively, you can walk to nearby Haight Street and grab a burrito at El Balazo, which serves the best Mexican eats in the hood. Then spend the rest of the afternoon window-shopping and exploring the hippie legacy of Haight-Ashbury. Did you know that The Grateful Dead lived at 710 Ashbury Street back in the day? You can see the edifice of the preserved Victorian home—and even snap a pic—for free, but be respectful of the current tenants, of course. For a deliciously affordable dinner in the Haight, grab a bowl of pho or savory noodles at pan-Asian neighborhood favorite, The Citrus Club, or chow down on gastropub fare and house-brewed beers at Magnolia Pub and Brewery.


1

Golden Gate Park

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expert pick

Location:

Stanyan & Fulton Sts
(Great Highway at Fulton St)
San Francisco, CA 94118

Contact:

tel: (415) 831-2700
fax: +1 415 581 2540


2

Strybing Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

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Location:

9th Avenue at Lincoln Way
San Francisco, CA 94122

Contact:

tel: (415) 661-1316
fax: +1 415 661 7427


3

Conservatory of Flowers

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Location:

JFK Drive, Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94117

Contact:

tel: (415) 666-7001


4

Haight-Ashbury

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Location:

Haight and Ashbury Streets
San Francisco, CA 94117

Contact:

tel: +1 415 391 2000 (Tourist Information)


5

El Balazo

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Location:

1654 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

Contact:

tel: (415) 864-8608
fax: +1 415 864 2180


6

Citrus Club

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Location:

1790 Haight St
At Shrader St
San Francisco, CA 94117

Contact:

tel: 415/387-6366


7

Magnolia Pub and Brewery

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Location:

1398 Haight Street
At corner of Masonic
San Francisco, CA 94117

Contact:

tel: (415) 864 7468


Day 2 - San Francisco


Now it’s time to see more of SF’s cultural riches. Start off your day with a hearty American breakfast at Mama’s on Washington Square in the Italo-American and former Beat Poet enclave of North Beach. Walk off the meal by trekking up to Coit Tower, where you can take in gorgeous views of the city and the bay, as well as the impressive interior mural. Then make your way east to walk around Chinatown, where the neighborhood itself is the attraction. In addition, the Chinese Cultural Center is free and an enriching respite from walking up and down the city’s hills. Head back into North Beach and assemble a sublime Italian-style picnic from Molinari’s Delicatessen on Columbus Avenue. Eat on the grass in Washington Square and if you’re feeling a bit peckish, grab a cappuccino at neighborhood mainstay Café Trieste, on the corner of Grant Ave. and Vallejo St. Then it’s back on your feet to nearby Lombard Street, where you can snap some fabulous pics of the city and take a walk on the famously crooked switchbacks. The nearby Cable Car Museum has free admission and offers a unique take on the iconic red streetcars. And what better way to follow that than with a ride on a Cable Car? Fare is only $1.50 for adults.


1

Mama's on Washington Square

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Location:

1701 Stockton Street
(cross street: Filbert)
San Francisco, CA 94133

Contact:

tel: (415) 362-6421


2

Coit Tower

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Location:

1 Telegraph Hill Boulevard
Telegraph Hill
San Francisco, CA 94133

Contact:

tel: (415) 362-0808


3

Lombard Street

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Location:

Between Hyde & Leavenworth streets
Above Ghirardelli Square
San Francisco, CA 94133

Contact:

tel: (415) 391-2000


4

Chinatown

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expert pick

Location:

Bush St. and Kearny St.
San Francisco, CA 94108

Contact:

tel: +1 415 391 2000


5

Cable Car Museum

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Location:

1201 Mason St
(at the corner of Washington Street)
San Francisco, CA 94108

Contact:

tel: (415) 474-1887


6

Cable Cars

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Location:

401 Van Ness
(between Golden Gate and Grove Sts) Admin Offices
San Francisco, CA 94102

Contact:

tel: (415) 673-6864


Day 3 - Mill Valley, Point Reyes Station


Some of the best complimentary pleasures of the Bay Area lie in Marin County. There are many to choose from, but each merits its own full-day experience, so we recommend either a hike in Mount Tamalpais State Park or exploring the natural preserve of Point Reyes National Seashore. Either way, the nature lover in you will be blown away.


1

Mount Tamalpais State Park

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expert pick

Location:

7665 Redwood Blvd, Suite 150
Mill Valley, CA 94941

Contact:

tel: 415-388-2070
fax: (415) 893-1583


2

Point Reyes Lighthouse Visitor Center

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Location:

Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

Contact:

tel: (415) 464-5100
fax: (415) 663-8132


Day 4 - San Francisco


Back on the cultural side of things, a visit to San Francisco would be incomplete without exploring the Mission District. Start off with a delicious bite at Tartine Bakery. Then window-shop your way up Valencia Street, which is chockablock with boutiques and art galleries. Make your way to Balmy Alley, which is entirely lined with amazing murals produced by local artists. For lunch, don’t pass up authentic Mission Mexican fare at Pancho Villa Taqueria. In the afternoon, take a free, guided tour of various urban points of interest with a healthy serving of history via San Francisco City Guides.


1

Tartine Bakery

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Location:

600 Guerrero Street
At 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Contact:

tel: (415) 487 2600
fax: (415) 487-2605


2

Mission Dolores

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Location:

332, 16th Street
(at the corner of Dolores Street)
San Francisco, CA 94114

Contact:

tel: (415) 621-8203
fax: (415) 621-2294


3

Pancho Villa Taqueria

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Location:

3071 16th Street
(At the corner of Valencia Street)
San Francisco, CA 94103

Contact:

tel: +1 415 864 8840
fax: (415) 864-3484


4

San Francisco City Guides

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Location:

100 Larkin Street
San Francisco Public Library
San Francisco, CA 94102

Contact:

tel: (415) 557-4266


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