Any holiday is likely to get expensive, especially when you are eating out all the time and doing things. But San Francisco has a number of things to keep the budget down.
Cable Car Museum
Whilst the cable cars themselves are expensive, at $7 per ride, the museum on Washington and Mason is free. This is the nerve-centre of the world’s only working cable car system. All of the cable cars across the entire city are running on cables that pass through and are powered by the motors in the building. Several informative displays give you all the detail you need about how this iconic mode of transport operated.
San Francisco Railway Museum
Also free, this is meant to be very good. Except that it is closed on Mondays which is when I tried to go.
Wells Fargo History Museum
On Montgomery Street, there is a very interesting little museum about one of the American West’s major banks. Starting off as a stagecoach company delivering people and mail, in grew and grew. The exhibit is small, but interactive and well throughout out. I spent a thoroughly engaged 45 minutes here.
Whilst not free, they are very cheap. Buy a Clipper Card from Walgreens and a ride is only $2.25 which includes a transfer within 90 minutes. Get on at Fisherman’s Wharf and go all the way to the Castro in a vintage street car, and imagine you are in 1950.
Ferry from Sausalito
The best way to get there is by bike over the Golden Gate Bridge (bike hire for a tandem for the day was $53 from Blazing Saddles). Use your Clipper Card to get a discounted rate on the ferry and pay only $6 instead of the standard $10 which will include amazing views of the Bridge and Alcatraz.
It can be expensive to eat out all the time, so finding where to go on the cheap can help. The Mission District, to the south of the centre is really easy to get to on the BART and metro, and is home to loads of Mexican restaurants. Walk down Mission and stop in any of the Tacquerias to pick up a burrito and beer for less than $10.
San Francisco is the home of sour dough, one of my favourite types of bread. Boudin is the master, and has several outlets across the city. A speciality is serving soup in a bread bowl – try the clam chowder for $8.
Coffee is available all over the place. Peets is a local ‘Starbucks’ style chain, but go upmarket on Market Street to Mazarine and pick up a ‘pour-over’ for $5 and sit outside to watch the world go by. You wont find a more lovingly produced coffee in the city.