Travelling less than US$ nine, seems impossible at San Francisco. But the city has some fun in store for the budget-conscious traveller. Here’s nine fun ways to experience San Francisco city without breaking the bank. Priceless memories within budget prices attract visitors towards San Francisco.
Visitors never tire of watching the sea lions at Pier 39. Overlooking the hangout of these charismatic mammals, the Sea Lion Center features interactive displays, educational videos, fascinating presentations, and one-on-one interactions with naturalists. Touch a sea lion pelt, compare your size to a real sea lion skeleton (they can be up to eight feet long) and more.
San Francisco is one of the few places in the world people can ride on a national historic landmark. The cable cars are the world’s last permanently operational manually operated cable car system, in the US sense of a tramway whose cars are pulled along by cables embedded in the street. It only takes US$ six to ride San Francisco’s iconic cable cars.
Whether or not you’ve got a green thumb, it’s easy to appreciate the art of nature at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Situated in Golden Gate Park, the 55-acre spread is home to more than 50,000 plants from around the world. If you want to stop and smell the roses (or the orchids, lilies and irises), head to the Conservatory of Flowers in the northeast corner of the park. Tickets for the Botanical Garden are US$ seven and admission to the Conservatory of Flowers is US$ eight for adults and US$ five for kids.
During the summer and fall, San Francisco’s cultural calendar is packed with cultural events- many of which are free. For music fans, People in Plazas, the perfect pick-me-up at lunchtime, presents 130 free concerts featuring all local performers, July-October. Locations are in downtown plazas on or near San Francisco’s main stem, Market Street. There’s also the Stern Grove Festival, which includes free concerts every Sunday from mid-June through mid-August.
There’s a toll if you’re driving into the city, but for cyclists and pedestrians, the Golden Gate Bridge is free. It’s one of the most photographed structures in the world, so be sure to bring a camera to capture shots of both the bridge and the views of the city. Wander down to Fort Point, which offers more great views of the bridge. With the completion of the new East Span of the Bay Bridge, cyclists and pedestrians also now have access to the mid-point of the span from Oakland and Emeryville.
Ghirardelli Square in Fisherman’s Wharf is anything but square. Considered the first successful adaptive reuse project in the US the building was originally a chocolate factory established by Domenico ‘Domingo’ Ghirardelli. Be sure to visit the Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop, where you can view chocolate manufacturing equipment, indulge in hot fudge sundaes, and sample one of their famous Squares chocolates. Order a Lombard Street Hot Cocoa (US$ 4.25) or sip a Nob Hill Chill (US$7.95) which is like a sundae in a glass.
Treasure Island Flea
Admission here is just US$ three (kids under 12 are free). This monthly event held on the last weekend of every month (except December) is considered one of Northern California’s largest monthly gatherings of artists, collectors, designers, crafters and food trucks. The market also features local musicians and entertainers. It is often called the“the Festival of the Bay.”
The former military outpost has plenty of free fun to be found, including hiking trails, special explorer guides for kids, bike paths, picnic sites and military artifacts.
The de Young Museum’s Hamon Education Tower offers an unobstructed, 360-degree view of San Francisco’s western neighborhoods and beyond. It is a view that isn’t often experienced by visitors who tend to gravitate towards more famous elevations such as Coit Tower and Twin Peaks. Access is free; however, the tower closes one hour before museum closing. From the last Friday in March through the last Friday in November (subject to change) the de Young Museum’s popular Friday Night series offers an opportunity to enjoy art, live performances and hands-on arts activities during extended hours at the museum.