This place is idyllic, steep roads & beautiful colourful houses, just like you saw in movies. And btw the famous tram exists as well. It surprised me with the fancy neighbourhoods where the rich people are leaving, where the houses are not houses anymore, but like small palaces where any moment you can expect a man wearing suit & tie to come out in a vintage black Porsche from the interior yard. Wandering on those streets is simply mesmerising & it makes you wonder what is really behind those walls and what you can do for a living to actually afford that?
On the other hand, the less fashionable districts with the not so expensive but beautiful houses have their charm. The peeled blue paint on the house, the worn out curtains at the windows, the shabby window at the attic & the vintage well maintained american car in front of the house gives you an odd, but good feeling and the same question arises – who could leave there? You would probably expect a grey haired lady, taking out her small dog out for a walk, but also a young non conformist man, who inherited the house from his family.
Not to forget that you are in US, there are also sky scrappers & glass buildings, mostly for offices, but also for living in. But these are not that interesting anymore compared to what I have just described before.
What you would definitely need to explore all of these is a car. Renting a car in US is much cheaper compared to Europe (gas is cheaper too) and it gives you the freedom to effortlessly travel around, wherever and whenever you may want. It’s simple, comfortable and much faster than using the public transportation which is not that well developed in SF. And because of the hilly streets, walking around will not be always a pleasure, even with the most comfortable shoes in the world.
Make your stay authentic and choose the Airbnb, to the detriment of the usual hotel, which anyway is expensive in SF due to an additional tax the owner has to pay to the state. Nice, clean & cozy 2 rooms (living room & bedroom) in a separated area of the house, which can accommodate up to 4 people, located in Bernal Heights, a delightful houses neighbourhood. I fully recommended.
The host, Deena, is very friendly and ready to help with recommendations of things to see and restaurants to try. I must confess that I have tried 4 of her recos and all of them were a great surprise – one fish restaurant (Red Hill station) & one Italian restaurant (Vega) and 2 places for breakfast where you can have coffee and pastries (Pinhole and Sandbox Bakery), all of them on Cortland street.
The neighbourhood is really safe and parking on the street is free.
It was the perfect place to lodge in San Francisco, love at first sight because of the colourful houses and blooming trees. Like in a fairytale.
There are some other nice places to enjoy your meal in the city. Go for the Ferry building market with a lot of places to stop, depending on your taste (italian food, good steak, seafood or just to grab a sandwich). My favourite (I am a big fan of fish & seafood) was the Hog Island Oyster Co. Make sure you go for the classic dozen of oysters and after you can try the Rustic Seafood Stew (which is not at all a stew, but more like a seafood soup with toasted bread with butter). Simply delicious, my mouth waters when I think about it. And as after lunch you need a coffee, don’t bother to stop anywhere but at the Blue bottle stand – the coffee here is the best I had in US. so wherever you go around US look for the blue bottle – it’s definitely the good sign.
One more place you should try for dinner, firstly for the experience itself and for the atmosphere, but also for the good food is Foreign Cinema. The neighbourhood looks weird and dirty and you would never believe that such a place can exist right there, but after the door opens a new world is revealed. Make sure you ask for a table on the terrace (is the nicest), but check also the forecast before to make sure you will not be freezing. In the evenings, they are projecting movies, you can only watch them if you would like to, as it is too noisy to actually hear something. I loved the atmosphere there, you should definitely give a try if around. the case you decide to go, book in advance, otherwise I do not guarantee you will find a table, as the place seemed to be quite popular.
You can read more about the restaurants & airbnb on the following links. The rest you can just google them. I hope you will enjoy the city as much as I did and do not forget, if in town definitely take a tour to Alcatraz, it’s a unique & amazing experience.