San Francisco: A Fun and Cheap (Staycation) Itinerary

Finally breaking the radio silence here to announce that we’ve finally moved into our place in San Francisco! The last few weeks have been a pandemonium of apartment searches, prepping for the move, getting things ready here, and settling in. And of course we had to complicate things for ourselves by hosting two dinners, overnight guests, and scheduling a house party all within the first two and a half weeks. Luckily, one of those overnight guests was David’s lovely mother, in for the weekend from Tennesee, and we got to spend some time playing the tourist with her—enjoying our new city and taking in the sights. Here’s a rundown on what we did in the three days she was here visiting:

Powell Street Cable Car Ride

Or, well, we attempted a cable car ride. The bad news was the cable cars were all down that day due to maintenance. The good news is, the shuttle they were running to and from Fisherman’s Wharf was FREE! So we didn’t feel bad at all jumping off at Lombard Street for a quick look and a few photos.

*Pro tip: We bought the 3-Day Visitor MUNI Pass, $23 for unlimited rides on the cable car, bus, and MUNI train lines. Considering that the cable cars alone cost $6 per ride, it’s worth the money!

Escape from the Rock: Bay Cruise

David’s mom had really wanted to do a tour of Alcatraz. We scouted the booking sites for a few days while we finalized our itinerary for the weekend, but when it came to reserve, they were all booked up! Luckily we found a great alternative—the Blue and Gold Fleet offers a bay cruise that takes you around the island of Alcatraz, underneath both bridges (Golden Gate and Bay) and along the city shoreline. Normally it’s $44, but we found a deal through Goldstar for tickets that were only $18! And the views were incredible!

*Pro tip: Want to do Alcatraz? Pick your day and put down your money. All it took was one day for the seats we wanted to vanish, so be ready to act fast!

deYoung Museum

Many of San Francisco’s museums will offer free or discounted days throughout the year (and sometimes once a month!). We lucked out in that two of the museums we were interested in visiting, the deYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park, and the (newly redone) Exploratorium on the Embarcadero were offerings free days during that weekend. We hit up the deYoung for some modern and indigenous art, as well as the spectacular view from the 9th floor observatory deck. Definitely worth the long bus ride from Nob Hill!

*Pro tip: Check out this list of free SF museums to see if any free days fall during your staycation (or vacation!)

Golden Gate Park

The other benefit of being at the deYoung is that you can double-whammy Golden Gate Park right after. After wandering through the museum exhibits, we popped over to the Rose Gardens, which still had full beds of roses even this late in the year. To save our feet, we hopped aboard the free shuttle and rode it out to the far end of the park to see the Dutch windmill, then crossed the street to enjoy some of the ocean air.

There’s a ton to see and do in San Francisco—despite it only being 7 x 7—and we definitely didn’t do it all! (Gotta save some stuff for next time, right?)