San Francisco is my favorite city along the west coast. It is also one of the most expensive especially for hotels. Luckily for the frugal traveler, many of the sights are free.

Note: When I first went to San Francisco (driving from Los Angeles), I was very surprised by the drop in temperature. Check the weather before you arrive.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, and Ghirardelli Square cover approximately 6 blocks along the boardwalk. This tourist destination offers great views of the famous Alcatraz, souvenir shops, seafood vendors, and street performers. Some of the local “residents” include pelicans and sea lions. Souvenir for chocolate loving moms? Ghirardelli Chocolate. This is where it all started.

Cable cars

While in Ghirardelli Square, take some photos on the Turnaround cable car (the end of one of the lines). The cable cars, which they call the living monument of San Francisco, are a good rest for the weary.

Note: There are no cable car transfers. Each trip requires a new ticket.


San Francisco’s Chinatown ranks second in size in the US only after New York City. It’s a great place to get inexpensive supplies and an inexpensive meal.

Lombard Street

Lombard, known as the steepest street, is another one of those photographs that tourists adore. Walking is free.

The golden gate bridge

Another famous and scenic walk is the Golden Gate Bridge. On a clear day, the views are fantastic (and will work with all that great Chinese food you’ll be eating). This suspension bridge is just under 9,000 feet long, so plan your round trip accordingly.

Cable car museum

Do you love cable cars? Then visit the Cable Car Museum on Mason Street. Admission is free, and the museum’s deck overlooks the massive motors and wheels that pull the cables. Great photos can be taken on the old cable cars.

A city of different cultures, bordered by the sea, San Francisco has a perfect mix of historical attractions and modern attractions. Many of them free.

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