San Francisco is a California gem. The coastal city offers gorgeous sightseeing, historic homes, and delightfully quirky neighborhoods. It’s far from a generic city, so if you don’t want to stay in a generic room, skip the hotel chains for a northern California B&B.
Bed and breakfasts in San Francisco run the gamut from cozy cottages to elegant, restored Victorian houses. Score a B&B that’s within walking distance of the Golden State Bridge, or just a cable car away from exciting neighborhoods like Nob Hill and Union Square. San Francisco is often an outdoorsy city--hiking options include the trails in Golden State Park and the scenic routes in the Presidio--so a bed and breakfast can offer a comfortable home base for you to return to after a busy day. With a home-cooked meal to start your morning and a four-poster bed awaiting at night, you’ll have plenty to energize you as you explore all the city’s sights, from Ghiradelli Square to Alcatraz Island.
San Francisco bed and breakfasts are equipped with a range of amenities, from WiFi to free parking, individualized decor and more. Read on for more information about SF bed and breakfasts and things to know about the city itself.
The area of land that is now San Francisco was occupied by indigenous peoples for millennia before becoming a Spanish colony in the seventeenth century. After gaining independence from Spain in 1821, the area became part of Mexico, and the lands--previously colonized by a mission system--became privatized. In 1848, at the end of the Mexican-American War, the city officially became a part of California.
The next year brought the California Gold Rush; a flood of prospectors (“forty-niners”) arrived in the city, transforming it from a small settlement to a bustling city with a busy harbor. After California was granted statehood in 1850, the area also became home to Fort Point and a military fort on Alcatraz Island. Business enterprises bloomed as a result of the Gold Rush, including Wells Fargo, Levi’s, and Ghiarardelli chocolate. The city was distinctly multicultural, shaped by Chinese, Mexican, indigenous, and American cultures, and the population was mostly male.
In 1906, a major earthquake destroyed more than three-quarters of the city, making many of its inhabitants suddenly homeless. Rapid, large-scale rebuilding efforts gave the city a new economic foundation, spurred by banking and wealthy railroad barons. Much of the city’s current infrastructure was created during this time, including the streetcar system and the Hetch Hetchy reservoir which provides the city with water.
The city’s strong banking sector largely protected it from the financial effects of the Great Depression. In the 1950s and 1960s, controversial urban planning projects led to the destruction of many west-side neighborhoods and the construction of freeways, ad the economy began to rely more on tourism. In the 1960s and 1970s, the city became an iconic center for the american counterculture: hippies crowded in the Haight-Ashbury district and the 1970s saw the emergence of a vocal gay rights movement. In recent decades, San Francisco has become home to the Silicon Valley dot-com boom and tech-based economic growth.
San Francisco provides a range of outdoor and indoor activities for visitors. If you’re looking for a beach trip, visit Half Moon Bay beach for famed ocean views. For gorgeous views of the beaches and the Golden Gate Bridge, check out the Presidio, a 1,500-acre park on a former military post, which features forested areas, a golf course, miles of trails, and scenic overlooks.
Music fans can check out The Warfield, SF’s premier concert venue where a variety of bands and musical acts perform.
Other sightseeing musts include the Painted Ladies--also known as Postcard Row or The Seven Sisters--a row of colorfully painted Victorian houses. The houses have appeared in over 70 movies and TV shows, most notably in Full House. To get a glimpse of nineteenth-century luxury and privilege, visit the Nob Hill neighborhood, an area with swanky hotels and the Gothic-architecture Grace Cathedral, along with Huntington Park and a cable car museum.
Walk (or rent a scooter) to explore the Mission, a vibrant neighborhood with Latino cultural roots and plenty of street art, especially on Clarion Alley. The area features taqueria and live-music clubs, craft cocktail lounges, tattoo parlors and gourmet ice cream shops, along with Dolores Park, a popular hangout spot with scenic skyline views.
The Palace of Fine Arts is an elegant group of buildings that makes for gorgeous sightseeing. Lombard Street provides excellent views of the city, and its red-brick scenic backdrop is highly popular for visitors to the city to stop at.
Haight Street retains the offbeat, hippie vibe that made the neighborhood famous in the sixties and seventies. Its vintage thrift shops and vegan food options make the area a continued favorite, and buskers and live-music clubs persist in the area. Pacific Heights showcases San Francisco’s more posh history; check out the 1886 Haas-Lilienthal house, a Queen Anne Victorian that is open to the public.
For nightlife options, the city features a range of bars and cocktail lounges. Check out the Emporium San Francisco Arcade Bar for a soaring venue that combines music and vintage decor. Speakeasies like Bourbon & Branch and tiki bars like Smuggler’s Cove serve up drinks with style.
The city is located at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula and is bounded by the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay. It is known for its foggy weather and craggy coastal rocks, as well as the small islands near the city’s shores.
The terrain in San Francisco is hilly--many neighborhoods, such as Nob Hill, Potrero Hill, and Russian Hill, are named after these features, while less populated hills such as the Twin Peaks are popular as scenic overlooks. The city is regularly affected by minor earthquakes from the nearby San Andreas and Hayward Faults, as well as occasional smoke from forest fires in the outlying hills.
Many of the city’s natural water sources--including Islais Creek and Mission Creek--have been culverted, and the city’s shoreline has extended beyond natural limits on landfill. Other outlying natural features include redwood forests and mountains.
San Francisco is one of northern California’s most popular tourist destinations--and with all the sightseeing, outdoor beauty, and good music and food, it’s not hard to tell why.
Within the city, the Golden Gate Bridge is a historic landmark; made from red metal, it stretches across the bay and provides majestic, misty sights.
Explore the city’s famous neighborhoods, from Nob Hill and Pacific Heights to the Mission and the Presidio--where the Monte Cristo bed and breakfast is located. In downtown San Francisco, visitors can sample sourdough bread and clam chowder, shop at Levi’s, and rent scooters.
For historical insight, check out the San Francisco City Hall, a Beaux-Arts monument to the City Beautiful movement that found a Progressive Era epitome in San Francisco, from the 1880s to WWI. Stroll around the Financial District--the business center of San Francisco--which features skyscrapers and the distinctive Transamerica Pyramid building. The district is also home to happy-hour lounges and restaurants, including the Tadich Grill--the oldest restaurant in the city--and the Jackson Square Historic section, where remnants of the Barbary Coast (a nineteenth-century red-light district) can be found.
On the northern waterfront, more touring and sightseeing awaits--including Fisherman’s Wharf, a busy area with souvenir shops and postcard views of Alcatraz and the bay. Visitors will spot sea lions and historic ships in the water, and they can sample Ghirardelli chocolates inside the famed former chocolate factory. More shopping, hotel, and theater options await in the city’s Union Square.
Take a ferry trip to Alcatraz Island for a tour and a stroll around the famed site of a former prison, where gangsters including Al Capone served time. You might pass sea lions and other marine life on the way out. The city’s Chinatown is also a bustling area filled with restaurants, shops, and music, making it a vibrant place to spend an afternoon.
San Francisco experiences coastal weather common to Northern California--moist, mild winters and long, dry summers. Its day-to-day weather is largely influenced by the Pacific Ocean, producing a mild and very stable climate with little temperature variation by season.
When compared to other major U.S. cities, San Francisco has the coolest daily mean, maximum, and minimum temperatures in the summer months. Its temperature is shaped by the level of fog that rolls in from the coast each day. Statistically, in San Francisco the warmest month of the year is September, and fall weather is often warmer than summer weather in the daytime.
One of San Francisco’s most famous dishes is clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Sourdough bread dates back to mining days as a San Francisco staple, while fresh clams are harvested from the bay area. This dish can be sampled at many restaurants throughout the city, and is a popular choice for sightseers exploring the city’s parks, where outdoor dining provides views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
San Francisco is also famed for its chocolate factories, particularly the Ghirardelli Square, where milkshakes and wrapped chocolates are popular options.
All Good Pizza, a hit local pizza shop, serves up slices in the Bayview region of the city. Seafood and Greek cuisine can be found throughout the city; NOVY Restaurant, Mersea Restaurant & Bar, and Kokkari Estiatorio are some of the city’s most popular eateries.
The city also has a vibrant nightlife scene with cocktails on tap. The Tadich Grill--the oldest restaurant in California--serves classics like Manhattans and martinis. In Chinatown, the Li Po Cocktail Lounge features cave decor with secluded crannies to enjoy a drink in. Trick Dog and Verjus are additional fun options for drinks.
San Francisco is a city of neighborhoods; its smaller areas carry distinctive recreation, sights, and even climates. A bed and breakfast is a great option to fully explore one of the city’s vibrant neighborhoods, keeping the comfort of a hotel chain without its impersonal feel.
Bed and breakfasts in the city provide a range of amenities that make them perfect for romantic getaways or family trips. Look forward to Free Wif and complimentary breakfasts, prepared fresh by friendly hosts. Each of the city’s bed and breakfasts are carefully decorated to provide an individual, unique atmosphere and a taste of the city’s aesthetics. Enjoy everything from fresh fruits to oceanside views among the varied B&B options in the city.
No two bed and breakfasts in the city are the same: some are boutique cottages, others large Victorians. Regardless, all bed and breakfasts in San Francisco come with a full variety of amenities to enjoy during your stay.
Extended check-ins, free parking, and host recommendations are to be expected at bed and breakfasts throughout the city. Some B&Bs in San Francisco offer afternoon teas as well as morning meals--a perfect, warm pick-me-up for days when the city is particularly foggy.
Other amenities include private rooms and bathrooms, Jacuzzi tubs, fresh linens, and handcrafted San Francisco products. Check out B&B special packages for chocolate, sourdough bread, romantic deals, cocktail recipes and more.
The San Francisco International Airport (SFO) makes it easy to arrive and depart from the city no matter what city you’re traveling from.
Car rentals, bike rentals, and scooter and Segway rentals are all available in San Francisco. The streetcar system is a famous feature of the city that provides public transportation throughout--enjoy the experience of taking a cable car up some of the city’s steepest hills. San Francisco is also a great city for walking around and exploring scenic sights on foot.
Bed and breakfasts in and near San Francisco come in a range of architectural styles--explore the options to see which one is the most appealing.
The Chateau Tivoli is one of San Francisco’s best bed and breakfasts; its charming architecture is a classic example of the city’s iconic late-nineteenth century aesthetic. Located in the Alamo Square Historic District, this 1892 structure has been restored and furnished with Victorian antiques, and is surrounded by vibrant neighborhoods.
The Parker Guest House is one of the best boutique stays in the city. The home offers ocean views, rolling hills, access to historic neighborhoods, and proximity to the Golden Gate Bridge. For an excellent San Francisco option, check out the Washington Square Inn, located in the heart of the North Beach neighborhood--the city’s “Little Italy”--and decorated to provide European-style charm. The Inn faces the park, which includes Saints Peter and Paul Church, and offers 15 inviting rooms, including views of the landmark Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill and downtown San Francisco.
The White Swan Inn is a quirky boutique bed and breakfast located in the Nob Hill Neighborhood. The inn describes itself as a “homage to all-things mod-meets English Country glam,” decorated with both a 1960s and Cotswolds aesthetic combined. The Willows Inn is a quintessential San Francisco bed and breakfast located in the Castro neighborhood, and the Hayes Valley Inn is a homey and walkable option.