I had the misfortune of booking our trip at the same time as two large conventions that were held in San Francisco and I looked right up until a couple of days before we flew out and the hotel prices never budged, I was bidding up to $125 per night on Priceline for 3.5* hotels and that didn't work, I checked Hotwire every few days and the lowest I found there was around $200 per night. I did have a 2* hotel booked for $125 per night but I booked that about a month ahead of when we were going. So check the convention calendar before booking, if you see one or more multiple thousand person convention, try booking a refundable hotel that you are OK with and then see if the rates go down on the nicer properties, don't wait until the last minute hoping the rates will go down because they probably won't.
The small shops on Fisherman's Wharf are way too expensive. My boyfriend and I were looking for a camera ----even a disposable one---and this pushy asian man got mad when we didn't want to pay $300 for a camera. He started putting us down then! I was pissed and said "let's go." Better to buy one at walgreen's or something before you head that way.
Pier 39 is a nice thing to see; shops selling tourist junk, over priced food, and expenisive entertainment. Walk around and look but, don't buy. You can find the same stuff at half the price on Market St. or Chinatown.
The rent for a business on Pier 39 is crazy and the rent reflects to the sticker price in the food and souvenirs.
One thing to see is the sun bathing seals, their free.
Leave Pier 39 to the suckers.
i don't know if this fits in this category, but you will see all these signs for $11 shuttle to the airport... they are in every little shop. DON'T do it! they were 30 minutes late to pick us up, and then they stopped at 3 other hotels... we arrived at the airport 5 minuted before our flight departed! the super shuttle is $13, and MUCH more reliable! it's worth the two dollars!