San Francisco is one of the most interesting cities in the United States for a reason: the iconic Golden Gate Bridge greets you; Alcatraz Island intrigues you and the culture that surrounds you makes you wish you could extend your trip by even just one day. There’s no shortage of activities or landmarks to take in. However, since the city is also one of the most expensive places in America, it can take some planning to keep your costs down. Here’s how you can enjoy your time in the City by the Bay without breaking the bank:
Do your research
Going anywhere without planning in advance is going to cost you more. To avoid pricey last minute decisions and purchases, take the time before you travel to thoroughly plan your trip. Talk to friends and family members who have visited the Bay Area before and get their recommendations on accommodation, dining out and which tourist attractions are truly must-see sites (and which ones aren’t!). Read online reviews and find out what other people who have visited San Francisco recently thought about. That way, you’ll know whether to hang on to your dollars or not.
Pick free activities
Some of San Francisco’s tourist attractions are simply not to be missed. The Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco and Alcatraz Island, for example, are well worth the cost of a ticket. Choose the attractions that you know you’d like to see and budget for them in advance. For the rest of your time, pick cheap or even free activities. Plan a walking tour around this architecturally interesting city to witness the sights and smells of Chinatown, the maritime views of Fisherman’s Wharf and the crookedness of Lombard Street. You can even cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge and take in the view for free.
Stay in a budget hotel
Accommodation is one of the costliest parts of any getaway, so consider staying at a budget hotel or hostel. Some will be slightly off the beaten path but others are right in the heart of San Francisco’s most popular neighborhoods. Booking in advance will help secure you a room at one of these quaint, often Victorian establishments. Staying here will also give you the opportunity to meet other cost-conscious travelers, who will no doubt share their own tips for seeing the city on a budget.
Choose restaurants wisely
Finally, gather some ideas on where to eat before you hop on the plane. San Francisco has an extremely wide range of places to eat: fine dining restaurants, trendy cafes, bustling bars and the current craze — food trucks. These will all vary in price, so it’s best to decide where to eat before your stomach starts to rumble. Otherwise, it will make a hasty decision— not to mention a costly one.
San Francisco, it’s a beautiful place and all it takes to revel in this beauty is a bit of thoughtful planning. You know what you want to do, where you want to stay and where you want to eat, so now you can just enjoy your trip!
Image by Roger Wallstadt, used under Creative Commons license.