San Francisco is known for a lot of things: the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Northern California weather — and the endless hills. It’s definitely true that, to the uninitiated, the San Francisco hills can be killer. If you’re planning a short trip to the city, you might be wondering what’s the best way to navigate the city without those dreaded hills getting in the way.
The good news is you don’t have to do extensive training to see the best of San Francisco. In this guide, we’ll share the best ways to see the city of San Fran without worrying about exhausting yourself:
1. Electric Scooter
The best way to see the city on your own terms is with an electric bike rental. You can rent an e-bike for a reasonable daily fee from Blazing Saddles (blazingsaddles.com). Not only are e-bikes easy to use, but they’re perfect for small groups, couples, and even families who want to see more of the city without worrying about sticking to a specific tour. The hills don’t stand a chance against these bikes!
2. Use Public Transportation
A lot of San Fran newbies think they can get away with bringing a car or renting a car in the city. It doesn’t matter how skilled of a driver you are, you’ll soon get blue in the face looking for a parking spot. It’s impossible to find parking in most popular areas, and the prices you’ll pay for said parking are outrageous.
How do you get around this? Public transportation is your new best friend. The best way to find public transportation near you is with the Google maps app transit option. You can use buses, cable cars, or the trolley to get around without any of the parking stress. To save money, opt for a Muni Passport that will give you unlimited rides during your stay.
3. Bus Tours
While you’ll be stuck with whatever itinerary they have prepared, there’s something to be said for the well-known San Francisco bus tours. These stop at a lot of famous sites in the city, and you’ll get to see most everything in a single day.
This is definitely a great option if you only have a day in the city, and you’re in a crunch for time, but it’s better to strike out on your own if you have a more flexible schedule.
4. Water Ferry
San Francisco is a city on the water, so why not take advantage of that? While they might not be the fastest way to get around, the water ferries are a sightseeing trip in their own right. Seeing San Fran by the water is definitely a must-do during your trip.
You can find a few different ferry services throughout the city including the Blue and Gold Ferry and the Golden Gate Ferries. Some will take you across the bay into nearby Sausalito or Angel Island. If you want to go to Alcatraz Island, Alcatraz Cruise is the only ferry service that goes there.
Finally, you can always see the city on foot. This is the most inexpensive option for getting around San Francisco, though you’ll have to navigate some hills from time to time. This is a chance to break in your favorite pair of sneakers. If you want to avoid the hills, stick to the waterfront area which is mostly flat. You’ll also find fewer hills in Chinatown and North Beach.
My advice? Save your heels for LA. Let San Francisco be the place where you wear your favorite pair of sneakers. After all, athleisure is the number one trend in this beautiful city.
There’s so much to see and do in San Francisco, California that it’s hard to fit all of the sights into a single trip. When you add the rising and falling hills into the mix, it can seem downright intimidating to tackle the city on your own.
Luckily, you have more options than you think to navigate the city on your own terms or with a tour. From electric bikes that propel you down the gorgeous streets of San Fran to watching the city pass you by on a ferry, you really can do it all here without worrying about ruining your knees and your shoes.
Have you ever been to San Francisco? Let us know in the comments below!