San Francisco's near-perfect, though often-foggy, weather draws in people from all over the world. Visitors seeking culture, outdoor adventures and top-notch restaurants can all find what they're looking for within city limits. Young and old alike will appreciate the beaches, museums and large parks this welcoming city offers.
Must see in San Francisco
Every first-time San Francisco visitor makes a beeline to the Golden Gate Bridge, and they're never disappointed. Golden Gate Park is another city-must see thanks to gardens, museums, and a tower with the perfect city view at the de Young Museum. Of course, no visitor should leave the city without taking a short boat ride to Alcatraz Island and enjoying an audio tour of the former federal penitentiary.
Where to stay in San Francisco
Families visiting San Francisco will find the attractions they want to visit are all over the city, so staying in a central neighborhood like Ashbury Heights or Mission Dolores is a good bet for both access to public transportation and cutting down on transportation time. Those interested in checking out the city's nightlife should consider Lower Haight, with the ever-popular Milk Bar, or the Castro, known for its abundance of LGBT-friendly bars. There's no doubt San Francisco is an expensive city, but it's still possible to find a deal, especially in Union Square, where visitors will have easy access to restaurants and theater.
Best and worst time to go to San Francisco
The best months to visit San Francisco are March through May, when the weather is pleasant and the tourists haven't yet made their way to the city. The most months are December and January, the area's rainy season.
Where to get lost in San Francisco
The Presidio of San Francisco is a 1,500-acre park with beaches, museums and killer Golden Gate Bridge views. Don't miss the Walt Disney Family Museum, Baker Beach and Crissy Field.
The best deal in San Francisco
Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge costs $7-$21 one way, but walking or biking across this iconic landmark is absolutely free.
Transportation in San Francisco
San Francisco travelers can easily rent a car (though be prepared for long lines if renting at the airport), though parking is not easy to find and public transportation is plentiful. The city's MUNI buses and streetcars, CALTRAIN and BART trains, ferries, cable cars and free shuttles take locals and visitors anywhere they need to go, including other cities in the Bay Area like Palo Alto, Mountain View and San Jose.
Getting in from San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport is the largest in the area, and closest to the city. Visitors who arrive here can get to the city using BART or CALTRAIN trains.
Local tip for visitors to San Francisco
The city's grittiest neighborhood is the Tenderloin. Though some tech companies like Twitter call it home, it's best to be vigilant at all times due to the prevalence of crime there.
Author's bio: Elizabeth Xu is a freelance travel writer who calls the San Francisco Bay Area home, though she's also had the opportunity to live in Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota. Follow her travels @ElizabethMXu.