If you’re visiting San Francisco chances are you want to explore the city every way possible. Yeah, you can walk, but some of those hills are pre-ee-tt-y steep. If you’re planning on seeing it all you may as well save some money and get some additional perks, right? CityPASS San Francisco is your answer. It’s a small booklet that’s valid for nine whole days, so there’s no urgency to cram everything into one day. You can travel about at your own pace. Aside from that, it also gives you access to some of the sights you’ll probably want to see when you’re in the city, as well as the ability to skip the line…all included in the price.
Seven-Days of Cable Car Travel
One of things that most people want to do when they’re in San Francisco is to ride a cable car up and down the legendary hills of the city. It’s a bit of a novelty experience, but even so, it’s really fun! Jumping on and then perfecting your stance as you hang on takes skills and practice. You can always sit down and enjoy watching others get to grips with it if you’re lucky enough to get a seat. The driver controls the car with a big lever, causing it to squeak when they brake and for some reason, wafting the smell of charred wood in the air (or perhaps he just pulled the brake a little too hard on that occasion!). It’s such a laugh coasting down the hills with the wind rushing through your hair.
Seven-Days of Muni Travel
Travelling on the Muni (a retro tram) is also a big must when you’re in San Francisco. For some, it’s just part of their everyday commute, but for overseas visitors like me, it’s super exciting. From the outside they look adorable – painted in different pastel colours and during December, even dressed in Christmas decorations. Inside it’s a vintage-lovers dream, with retro leather seats (at least on the majority of them in the city). You’ll often find them crammed with locals, so be prepared to wedge yourself in or to wait for the next one. They’re usually frequent, with many of the routes interlacing with one another. Admittedly during my visit I was never asked for a ticket, but you know if you didn’t bother with one you’d be asked for it!
A Bay Area Cruise
If you’re in the city you’ll also want to hop onto one of the ferries for a cruise around San Francisco Bay, checking out the iconic Alcatraz, as well as the equally iconic, Golden Gate Bridge. Go for one early in the day or late afternoon so that you can enjoy the sunrise/set views. Just make sure you wrap up because it can get very chilly out on the water. Also, if you suffer with seasickness (even in the slightest) take some tablets with you. Apparently it’s very rare that the water is still, especially with other boats whizzing past.
California Academy of Sciences
It’s a huge site showcasing loads of interactive and interesting things like an indoor rainforest, a rooftop garden, sharks, rays and more. Children especially love it, though even if you’re supposed to be the mature one you can easily spend a few hours here. Pair it with the nearby de Young Museum (just a five/ten minute walk).
de Young Museum
This is one of those amazing museums that actually manages to keep you awake, rather than sending you to sleep. You’ll find a complete mixture of collections and exhibitions, all displayed in a super modern building. Head up to the de Young’s Hamon Tower Observatory to see great views of the Golden Gate Park and the California Academy of Sciences. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea you can visit the Exploratorium instead – you can use your CityPASS for one or the other.
With your CityPASS you can also either go to the Aquarium of the Bay or Montery Bay Aquarium. As I’m not a fan of the ocean I skipped both of these, but I’ve heard great things.
If you were to do all of those things separately it would cost you a lot more (around £50 more). The CityPASS costs about £53. You can order it online and have it delivered to your hotel for when you arrive. Simply then write the date on it and show the booklet wherever you visit. You can skip the lines and you’ll find one or two discount vouchers in the back of it as well. Good times! You can find out more and up to date prices here.
Big thanks to CityPASS for providing my booklet.