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San Francisco on a Budget

Here are 5 ways to enjoy San Francisco comfortably on a budget

San Francisco 800x484

San Francisco has been named one of the top ten destinations by Trip Advisor’s 2015 Travelers’ Choice Awards. That’s no surprise, since this diverse and bustling city is a favorite for travelers throughout the year. With a reputation as one of the most expensive cities to live in in the United States, can visitors come to San Francisco without breaking the bank? Absolutely. Here are five ways to enjoy San Francisco on a budget.


 fisherman's wharf

  1. Fisherman’s Wharf

A visit to this iconic section of San Francisco is a must for most first-timers, and if you can manage to arrive via trolley car, you can cross another San Francisco icon off your list. Avoid expensive tourist traps and enjoy the scenery. Perhaps play an old-fashioned arcade game at Musee Mecanique or stop in the Boudin Sourdough Factory for a filling bite to eat.


Here you can also board the historic Red and White Fleet for a tour of the San Francisco Bay by boat, with an audio tour available in 16 languages.


Flea Market Parasols

  1. Treasure Island Flea Market

Perfect for shoppers on a budget, at the Treasure Island Flea Market, you can find any type of curio or clothing accessory – or useless piece of junk – to treasure. This flea market is very popular with visitors from around the world, and you may meet fellow shoppers from other states who have traveled just for this market. Score a great, budget-friendly deal and enjoy some people-watching while you eat delicacies purchased from popular food trucks.


Lombard Street

  1. Lombard Street

Also known as the world’s most crooked street, Lombard Street a beautiful scenic route to walk. It is very popular with tourists who come to San Francisco to see the eight tight hairpin turns. This one-way street was designed in this seemingly odd manner to compensate for its steep, 27-degree incline. The street has received much attention in pop culture, as it was featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo,” “The Simpsons” and an episode of “Myth Busters,” among others. A great place to walk off all of your San Francisco treats.


  1. The Golden Gate Bridge

No list of San Francisco landmarks can be complete without the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Considered one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the World, crossing by bicycle or on foot is free of charge. Just be sure to pack layers; it can get windy and cold on the bridge.


San Francisco Mural

  1. Mission District Murals

The Mission District is an iconic neighborhood in San Francisco. Home to Mission Dolores, Dolores Park, plenty of affordable taquerias and street vendors, you may not know where to start exploring. The beautiful murals of the Mission District offer essentially a colorful outdoor art gallery free of charge. This list of outdoor murals can help guide your explorations.


  1. Splurge on Sleep

The fun activities listed above are either free or low cost, but regular visitors will tell you to choose your hotel wisely. You’ll be able to experience much more of the city if you select a hotel in a convenient location and popular neighborhood. With so much to see, why not splurge on a hotel that offers a breathtaking view of the city? Pro tip: Parc 55 has a fabulous view if you book a room in the upper levels. With all that walking, you’ll want a comfortable place to lay your head. After all, you’ll need a good night’s rest if you want to tour an entire city.


Visiting San Francisco on a budget is absolutely doable. It just takes some planning, a good pair of walking shoes and a comfortable, well-situated hotel. Get ready to leave your heart in San Francisco, like so many have before you.



About the Author: Anum Yoon is a personal finance writer who enjoys sharing her travel experiences even more than writing about money management. Her favorite city in the world is her hometown of Hong Kong, but in her honest opinion, San Francisco is the next best thing.