San Francisco Tourism Tips and Information
San Francisco Tourism Information
You can get San Francisco tourism information from the San Francisco Visitor Information Center at Market and Powell streets, on the lower level of Hallidie Plaza, near the Powell Street BART station. Call 415-391-2000 for information, 415-391-2001 for recorded events information.
Arriving soon? Check out our local airport guide for info on how to get into San Francisco.
If you're driving, it's a good idea to keep an eye on the traffic reports, as things tend to get hectic around rush hour. When parking, look out for permit-only areas, bus zones, colored curbs and street-cleaning hours, and remember to curb your wheels on hills -- our Parking & Driving page has more info. In the city, it may be better to take Muni, BART or a cable car.
Helpful Phones and Area Codes for San Francisco Tourism
The area code for San Francisco and Marin county is 415, Peninsula cities use 650, the East Bay is 510, eastern Contra Costa County is 925, and San Jose is 408. Local payphone calls are 50 cents.
Drinking and Smoking
Liquor laws allow sale of beer, wine and liquor from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, although some places are only licensed to sell beer and wine (including sake). It's illegal to smoke in bars in California. You may find some exceptions, since there are loopholes (and lawbreakers), but be prepared to smoke outside.
Some San Francisco Tourism Pointers
It used to be that if you referred to the City (the preferred term for San Francisco) as Frisco, it signalled you as an ignorant rube. In the last few years, though, there's been a small and quiet revolution underfoot to liberate it as a term of endearment, much like gay people have taken ownership of the formerly pejorative "queer." However, saying "Frisco" when referring to San Francisco has not yet achieved mainstream status, so a good bit of advice is this: don't use "Frisco" unless you live here, lest you risk the scorn of the unenlightened local.
San Francisco Tourism Top Seasons- Arts and Events
In keeping with San Francisco's colorful reputation, there is an interesting mixture of festivals and exhibitions almost all year round in the city. There is everything from a Cable Car Bell-Ringing Championship in June and July through to Halloween night in Castro Street as well as Shakespeare performances and Opera and Blues in the parks during the summer.
San Francisco Dining
For a city graced with rich cultural diversity and a wildly imaginative spirit, it comes as no surprise to find the cuisine available in San Francisco echoes its innovative cosmopolitan air. Experience superb examples of the finest global fare from authentic Asian menus in China Town to the ever-changing thoroughly modern Californian seafood specialties. Spanish/Mexican classics, with all you can eat tariffs and the traditional USA 'surf and turf' grills are in abundance in the city that rarely sleeps. Many café bars stay open for twenty-four hours. Sometimes choosing what to eat is not as difficult as deciding where to eat. Many restaurants boast spectacular views of the bay and beyond. With impeccable, seamless service the norm, every San Francisco eating experience should be as pleasing as the city itself.
San Francisco Tipping Advice
Service charges are not included on restaurant bills throughout San Francisco. A standard gratuity of between 10 and 20 percent tends to be the norm. For other service personnel such as doormen, valets and baggage handlers, a tip of one US dollar per service is recommended. As a guide, adding 10 percent onto taxi fares is acceptable.