Cheap flights to San Francisco are available from both Perth and Adelaide, typically stopping in Dubai on carrier Emirates. Some flights exiting Perth also transfer in Hong Kong. Direct flights are available from Sydney on United Air Lines with a flight time slightly over 13 hours. Air New Zealand offers cheap flights exiting Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide that include a connection in Auckland. Cheap flights transferring through Los Angeles are available for Brisbane and Melbourne departures on American Airlines. Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) operate frequent services downtown for under $10 one-way. The Pittsburg/Bay Point train will take you to the Civic Centre, Powell Street, Montgomery Street and Embarcadero stops in less than 30 minutes. Board the AirTrain to the BART Station (located in the international terminal) or to the Rental Car Centre to organise onsite car hire.
San Francisco is an easy city to navigate. Purchase a Multi-Ride Pass for unlimited travel on the Muni Metro street cars (light rail) and buses. Without this, exact change is required for one-off ticketing. It’s not all hills – explore the city on foot or on a bicycle. Taxis are cheap and operate on a cash only basis. The city is easily negotiated by car and while parking can be expensive within the central business district, crossing the iconic Golden Gate Bridge behind the wheel is a brilliant, uniquely San Francisco experience.
Book Alcatraz tours in advance and see the Golden Gate Bridge with a beautiful cruise on the bay. Climb the 284 Filbert Street Steps to Telegraph Hill and check out the extensive view from Coit Tower. For a cheap afternoon, picnic at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park or of an evening at Alamo Square with the gorgeous backdrop of the Painted Ladies. Visit the San Francisco Railway Museum, de Young Museum and the sweet antique arcade gaming machines at Musee Mecanique. Explore Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze, trampoline park House of Air and science centre, The Exploratorium. See a Grizzly Bear at the San Francisco Zoo or the marine life of northern California at the Steinhart Aquarium. Fisherman’s Wharf is crowded, but cool - use it as a point to get on or off one of San Francisco’s iconic cable cars.
Stonestown Galleria is the perfect place for high-end fashion and boutique shopping. Spend a day roaming around the Gilroy or Pataluma Village premium Outlets for discount buys on big names such as Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren and Guess. Union Square, Westfield San Francisco Centre and the majestic Crocker Galleria are the best mall offerings with speciality, chain and department stores. The 5-course tasting menu at Gary Danko is an essential fine dining experience or try the French cuisine at oddly chic, Masa’s. Sit down to local cuisine at swanky First Crush. For a cheap meal to keep you going, head to Ike’s Place and gorge a Heath Ledger, Jessica Rabbit or Kryptonite sandwich. Sip cheeky cocktails at Slanted Door or ultra cool Smuggler’s Cove. Party at Ruby Skye, Mr Smith’s and Mighty or tone it down with a romantic wine at Amelie and casual evening at Jasper’s Corner Tap.