I am travelling solo in the USA for about 7 weeks with a few set plans but plenty of time for random trips! I fly into San Fran on the 7th April and was just wondering if anyone could recommend good hostels and worthwhile things to do in the short time that i am there!!
Well, I don't know anything about hostels--but I recently put out a list of "free or cheap things" to do in SF on these threads--and a list of how to get around SF on the cheap.
Here’s the highlights from that previous post:
Exploratorium (San Francisco) - $14 for adults or $11 for students
Alcatraz ticket (San Francisco) - $24.50/day or $31.50/night
Cable Car Museum (San Francisco)--Free, Open everyday except Sundays and holidays.
Yerba Buena Rooftop Gardens (San Francisco near the Convention Center)--Free, except for the carousel, which is $3 for 2 rides. Next door is the Sony Metreon--basically a high-tech shopping mall.
Palace of Fine Arts--Well, the park and structure (the most impressive parts) are free, but if you want to go to a theatrical performance, then that will run you $19 to $100 depending on the show being performed and how good of a ticket you want. (The Palace of Fine Arts is a short walk to/from the Exploratorium)
Taking the cable car is now expensive $5 per ride--but if you get the MUNI pass, then you can ride all day on all the stuff around town including the buses for $11--and the San Francisco Citypass is good for 7 days and costs $54.
This is the best deal since it includes not only all the transportation for a week, but also covers your admission to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Legion of Honor, the Aquarium of the Bay, one bay cruise on the Blue and Gold Fleet, and a free admission to either the Asian Art Museum or else to the Exploratorium (mentioned above).
Other free stuff in San Francisco--walking through Chinatown, going to Ghiradelli Square (they even give free chocolate samples), Golden Gate Park, Coit Tower, Boudin Bread factory at Fisherman's Wharf (but the tour of this is about $3--although it includes bread samples), Fisherman's Wharf itself (although the food will cost you), Pier 39 (a large shopping mall on the water--but fun), San Francisco Pier 1 (same as Pier 39--but different shops and food stalls), and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Take away food prices vary and will be around $5 to $10 depending upon whether you are just on the street--or in a tourist area--and whether it is lunchtime (cheaper) or dinnertime (more expensive).
If you are looking to meet people, that's pretty easy to do all over SF--but especially in clubs and restaurants along Columbus Street or at one of the many pubs or out at the baseball park or even while on a sightseeing trip--where a lot of other single out-of-towners gather. I find that the beaches are also popular meeting places during the summer--but for that you'll have to go out of SF at least 60 miles--since there aren't that many beaches in town. Some good beaches in Northern California (but south of SF) are at Santa Cruz or Carmel.
For the really good beaches head south to the LA or SD area, where there are about 20 good ones--Malibu, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach--in the LA area--and Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Torrey Pines Beach, Mission Bay, Del Mar Beach, and Coronado being the primary ones in the SD area.
I was there as a tourist in Aug 2006 and have been a number of times for work since then.
Aslong as the weather is decent the best thing that I have done there is ride a push bike over the Golden Gate bridge. You can rent them from Blazing Saddles near the water front. It's not too taxing and it's very pretty. Most of it is off the rode on bike tracks. I don't ride a bike in general but this was a great way to see it. Take the ferry back.
If your a keen rider or if your fit head left from the other side of the bridge. (you have to head left anyway, but instead of going under the bridge to Salsulido head up the road for the look out) There is a look out over the bridge which is spectacular in the afternoon. We were driven there by a friend.
Alcatraz was great. Book ahead if you want to go on a certain day or if you are not in SF for very long. I night time one is supposedly spooky but book well ahead. The head sets are a good investment and make sure you make it to the talk in the mess hall.
I stayed in the HI in the downtown. A bit disappionting. You don't really get to meet anyone. I heard the Green Tortoise has a bar and is better if your traveling on your own.