Walking, I can't say enough about getting around on your own two feet. But a city like San Francisco can wear you out faster than most because of its hills. Pace yourself when you wander around the many neighborhoods.
I recall on my first visit after so many years I wanted to see it all. Walking is the only way you can do that and boy were we tired.
We decided to walk from our hotel at Union Square through China Town to North Beach then to Coit Tower, down to Pier 39 along Jefferson Street, through Fort Mason across Marina Blvd to the Palace of Fine Arts.
What a walk, we were so exhausted and late for a night out to celebrate a birthday that we decided to take the Muni back to the hotel.
Was a wonderful walk, one I doubt I will ever repeat :)
San Francisco is a great place to explore on foot desite all the hills. Thre are so many things to discover on foot that you would miss if you were on a train or bus. Personally we have found some interesting places, cool shops and even some good places to eat that we would have missed if we were not walking.
Word to the wise: wear comfortable shoes when walking in San Francisco; you will be glad you did.
Like many other cities, San Francisco is best visited on foot - this is the only way you'll truly get to appreciate its one-of-a-kind architecture. However, all those hills do make it a bit of a challenge to tour around the city on foot; I mean, you know you're in trouble when the sidewalk suddenly turns into steps!! You also have to keep in mind that maps can be pretty deceptive: what doesn't look really far can actually involve walking up and down a couple of pretty steep hills. If you don't think you can handle it, it might be a good idea to get a muni pass for the duration of your stay (http://www.sfmta.com/cms/mfares/passports.htm). Otherwise, as I was telling one of my friends, the good thing is that this is probably the one trip you'll come back from not having gained any weight!!
You have many choices when getting around San Francisco but in my opinion, the best way to get around and see this city is to walk. The city for the most part is safe, and with a good map you can't get too lost and even if you do just ask someone on the street for directions. Walking allows you to admire the architecture and the neighborhoods you are passing through.
San Francisco is a walkable city and most enjoyable this way. Most places in the city can be easily reached by public transportation. These two are the major ones.
There are also a web of bus routes spanning the city.
San Francisco is an amazing place to walk around, I walked everywhere! No two streets are the same. I never felt uncomfortable or unsafe walking around on my own.
I honestly walked miles and miles everyday, you see so much more than getting a taxi or a bus. My personal favorites to walk to are Fishermans Warf, The coit tower, the Golden gate bridge, down town and China town. If you plan your route you can take in a couple of these in a day walking. The only problem is if it rains.
Whether you want an urban hike or a walk in the woods, San Francisco has plenty of locations to please you. Most of them will have beautiful views. Many involve climbing hills.
We had several hikes, but maybe the most interesting urban hike was one that was with a steep climb, but also good for photographers. We started near Chirardelli Square at the cable turnaround. We followed the cable car line up the hill on Hyde STreet. We stopped at Lombard Street to watch the craziness on the crookedest street. We walked down and up Lombard and returned the way we came. Time to explore Ghirardelli Square itself.
Before we visited San Francisco we already paid a visit to other American cities. We found out that these cities are so huge and everything is so spread out that exploring a city by footh is impossible.
As we (from The Netherlands) are used to doing a lot by footh we were pleasantly surprised by the fact that San Francisco is a city in which everybody walks and you're truly able to explore some sights by footh. Besides that, it's good to know that whenever you stay within the city limits a car is unnecessary and navigating the unmarked one-way streets, congested traffic and parking may turn out to be more a hassle than it's worth.
Of course we also took the cable car and other various ways of getting around, by our feet were our best friend! The huge advantage is that whenever you're walking you're always able to stop at any time and enjoy the fascinating scenery San Fransico has to offer.
When in the city, especially in the dense, main touristy areas like downtown, Chinatown, etc., walking is the best primary mode of transport. One can fit in the muni, cable cars, and the recently restored street car lines on Market and the Embarcadero, too, but usually these are not necessary. San Francisco is the second-most densely populated city in the United States and it is actually quite small in terms of land area. It is almost exactly a square 7 miles by 7 miles. I've walked quite easily from Nob Hill to Civic Center, then back up to Chinatown, the Financial District, North Beach, and over to the the Ferry Building, and back all in one day. Most things area really quite close and I think that actually trying to drive a car from, say Union Square to Chinatown, would in fact be slower than walking.
Moreover, walking, as always, provides a more tangible feel for, and interaction with, the city than any other mode of transport.
Want to spend 3 hours moving about SF (primarily the Wharf area) and not have to walk? Check out the Segue Tours. From the tours website, you will see:
*Fisherman's Wharf and the picturesque fishing harbor
*Cable Car turnaround
*Ghirardelli Square (home of delicious chocolate!)
*National Maritime Museum and the historic sailing ships
*Fort Mason (former military base, now a historic landmark)
*Marina Green (where the locals sunbathe and fly kites)
*Palace of Fine Arts (once the site of the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition)
*St Francis and Golden Gate Yacht Clubs
*Views of Alcatraz
The tour is $65 and participants must be a minimum of 12 years of age.
My personal advice is get a bike. You'll save money and enjoy yourself more.
Walking in San Francisco is fun, but BEWARE THE HILLS! It sometimes feels like they've paved the Matterhorn here. You may have a problem navigating some of them, but there's plenty of buses, cabs, and don't forget the cable cars-getting around is pretty easy, even if you don't walk.
although the muni system is really good and efficient, i felt that the best way to get around is still to walk! even with all the slopes! especially along market street, around financial district, union square, chinatown all are easily acessible by foot! plus with the fantastic cool weather, the feeling of walking along the streets is so great!
If you are downtown or on Fisherman's Wharf walking is relatively easy. Rely on maps instead of directions from locals. Too often I have asked where something is and they tell me oh it is just around the corner or just 2 blocks down. It ends up being 8 blocks. Another thing is they do not have hills it is a mountain that you are climbing. They need to stop the nonsense. If you have heart conditions or breathing problems do not walk up any mountain just take a bus or trolley to where you need to go. It is worth it. These so called hills are steep as all hell and are not short they are like a mile long.
SF is a nice place to visit by foot. I walked all day long around the city and it was great. Hope onto the Trolley cars to get a ride around some parts. The line ups for the trolley at the base of the wharf can be looooong.
Driving aroind the city can be annoying with all the hills and stuff, so I recommend you walk it! WOOO!
I highly recommend walking the streets of San Francisco. I was surprised at all the interesting things you could discover on a nice walk.
I found this mural in an alleyway behind City Lights Bookstore. There was another on the other side, but because it was evening it was hard to get a picture of that one.