ESL's San Francisco tips - Don't miss out on what the city has to offer!
Here are some ways to get the most out of your time in San Francisco:
Pick up a Clipper Card
If you plan to stay in the city for more than four weeks, it could be an excellent idea to purchase a Clipper Card (clippercard.com). This monthly transportation pass allows you to pay one set fee at the beginning of the month to use San Francisco’s many forms of public transportation (BART, Muni, and bus) as many times as you want for the whole month with the simple tap of the card. For those residing in the city or planning on exploring the various neighbourhoods in San Francisco, this card will save you a great deal of money and provide you with unlimited rides to get you anywhere your heart desires all month long.
Volunteering in San Francisco: make a difference and meet locals
From working with animals to delivering flowers to the elderly, helping plant and maintain lush gardens in Golden Gate Park, or spending an afternoon creating food boxes for the homeless, volunteering will immerse you in the community of San Francisco. It’s a great way to feel connected to the city and the wonderful people who fill it. Plus, you can practice your English with fellow volunteers and the community you serve, all while engaged in an activity that will make you feel great about giving back!
Practise your English at the farmers’ markets
The Farmers’ Markets are ideal places to ask questions to knowledgeable and friendly farmers. The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is the most popular in the city and attracts nearly 25,000 visitors per week. Farmers from all over the region set up stalls each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday offering fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, meats and eggs. There is plenty of cooked food too, for when your mouth starts watering.
Get cheap sports tickets, museum entry, food…
The ticketing site StubHub (stubhub.com) often has tickets for SF Giants Games as low as $6, but you need to keep your eyes open for the real bargains. There are also Free Museum days (usually the first Tuesday of the month) and the many farmers’ markets in the city always offer free samples or delicious fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses. To see a classic part of the city, a free City Hall tour (given 3 times daily) is highly recommended.
To watch, read, listen
Watch Vertigo (1958) Director: Alfred Hitchcock Bullitt (1968) Director: Peter Yates Dirty Harry (1971) Director: Don Siegel
San Francisco cinemas
It should be no surprise that there are cinemas for all tastes in San Francisco. The CastroTheatre (429 Castro Street, castrotheatre.com) is almost a century old and hosts some of the USA’s finest film festivals. It is home to a beautiful Mighty Wurlitzer organ, which was originally installed to accompany silent movies and is still played each evening. The BalboaTheater (3630 Balboa Street, cinemasf.com) is another classic, offering cheaper tickets and authentic surroundings. The Embarcadero (Embarcadero Center, landmarktheaters.com) and Roxie (3117 16th Street, roxie.com) are the places to go for art-house cinema. For blockbusters, try the Cinemark (845 Market St., cinemark.com) or the AMC Van Ness (1000 Van Ness Ave, amctheaters.com) which has an IMAX screen.
Read The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett Golden Gate by Vikram Seth Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
Listen Stand! by Sly and the Family Stone American Beauty by The Grateful Dead Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables by The Dead Kennedys
San Francisco Music venues Rickshaw Stop (155 Fell St., rickshawstop.com) hosts up-and-coming live bands and club nights while The Independent (628 Divisadero Street, theindependentsf.com) is a lovely venue for diverse live music. The Great American Music Hall (859 O'Farrell Street, slimspresents.com) has an eclectic booking policy and is worth visiting for the venue alone – something straight out of an old movie. For electronic music, the venues come and go but Ruby Skye (420 Mason Street, rubyskye.com) and Vessel (85 Campton Pl, vesselsf.com) are consistently strong. For some dub and reggae, Elbo Room (647 Valencia Street, elbo.com) is a good place to start, or for a cosy cocktail and some live bluegrass, try Rickhouse (rickhousebar.com).
Catching an open-air gig at UC Berkeley’s Greek Theatre is also highly recommended.