Expert View: San Francisco – What Makes It So Special?

Golden Gate Bridge
March 11, 2014

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San Francisco is known as one of the cooler, edgier cities to visit in the US, despite being smaller than its more famous cousins like New York. AttractionTix asked travel blogger and local expert Andi Fisher what makes this Californian gem so special, and what she recommends you do if you visit.

 

  • AttractionTix
    1. You’ve lived all over the United States. How do you think San Fran compares to other cities in the US?
  • Andi

    San Francisco is an amazing city that people from all over the world can relate to.  It is very international, so it makes everyone feel like they are at home on some level.  It’s a foodie town, you can find something good to eat for everyone and at all budget levels. You will not leave town hungry!  It’s also a very walkable town, like many cities all over the world, with a decent mass transit system that allows you to access every corner of the 7×7 mile village.

  • AttractionTix

    World-famous landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz are obviously top of the list of things to do in San Francisco. But what else would you recommend visitors do if they have a few days there?

  • Andi

    I recommend picking one of the many unknown neighbourhoods and focus your time there.  There are less tourists and still tons of things to do.   Areas like Sunset or Mission or Richmond will keep you fed, entertained and moving for an entire day (or more).  You will meet the locals, eat where they eat, do the things they love to do while seeing interesting portions of the city.

  • AttractionTix

    Where are the best places to eat in the city & what food do you recommend people should try?

  • Andi

    In a city like San Francisco? The best places to eat are every where!  I do a series on my blog called San Francisco Profiles that spotlights individual neighborhoods and all the amazing things to eat in each section.  If you twist my arm some of my favorites are Yank Sing for dimsum (for breakfast or lunch) the Roli Roti food truck (get the porchetta sandwich) at the Ferry Build on Thursdays and Saturdays, you can eat while you wander the Farmer’s Market and Tadich Grill in the Financial District for dinner – they have a great classic martini and ciopinno, a San Francisco classic.

  • AttractionTix

    What should people pack for a city break to San Fran? We’ve heard the weather isn’t all-out Californian sunshine …

  • Andi

    Pack layers! Some of the coldest months are in the summer, people are always surprised by that.  We truly have very mild weather.  It can start out cold in the morning, but by the afternoon it is nice and warm, dressing in layers means you can peel off as you go.  Of course, we are famous for our San Francisco sweatshirts, so if you forget you can always pick one up!

  • AttractionTix

    What would you say is the best way to get around the city, particularly to the big attractions?

  • Andi

    The cable car.  It can get expensive so I recommend getting a San Francisco City Pass so that you can take multiple trips, it truly is the best way to see the sites!

San Francisco cable car

San Fran’s infamous cable car

  • AttractionTix

    You’re a bit of a travel guru, and have seen a fair bit of the world. What are your top 3 travelling tips for those who haven’t ventured far from home before?

  • Andi

    Don’t try to do everything.  Visiting a big city like San Francisco (or Paris or New York) can be intimidating, instead of trying to attack it all – you’ll end up exhausted and everything will be a blur – visit one area or two and really go deep.  Stay in one neighborhood an entire day and really explore every corner.  Eating out on the road can get expensive so I try out different restaurant strategies: eat a big breakfast and skip lunch;  visit a farmer’s market for picnic items and eat in a park; visit that famous starred restaurant for lunch instead of dinner, same great food, cheaper prices!

  • AttractionTix

    Do you organise everything before you leave for a trip, or do you like to live in the moment?

  • Andi

    I do a mix.  I research things I want to do so that I have it in my back pocket, and may plan and pay for one or two tours, the rest of the time I decide once I get there what I want to do.  I encourage doing tours the first day or two of any trip.  Tour guides and fellow travellers are great resources for other tips on places to see and do!

  • AttractionTix

    What are the top 5 items you simply cannot travel without?

  • Andi

    My camera, a notebook, scarves, digestive enzymes and a no-stress attitude.

  • AttractionTix

    Where are you planning to visit in 2014?

  • Andi

    Hawaii, Florence, Paris and Yellowstone are what I have planned thus far as bigger trips and then I am always doing day or weekend trips to explore the greater San Francisco Bay Area – there is so much to do and see here!

  • AttractionTix

    What is your absolute favourite destination in the world and why?

  • Andi

    Paris, she was sort of my first love and I never tire of exploring her.  Always full of surprises and reinventing herself – every trip is a new adventure.

About the author

Andi Fisher

Andi Fisher is author of the Misadventures With Andi blog, documenting her love of travel, food and all things French! She’s also a Local Expert for San Francisco, and an ambassador for travel guide AFAR.