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Exploring San Francisco By Foot (Sample Route Available)

Susan Laurent
Last Updated on
by Susan Laurent

San Francisco is a lovely city that offers an interesting culture, a rich history, remarkable scenic spots, and exciting activities for both local residents and tourists looking to explore The Golden Gate City. Aside from friendly people and sumptuous food choices, SanFo boasts a wide array of destinations that you and your family can visit on your next travel.

Can I Explore San Francisco by Foot?

With a total land area of 46.9 square miles or 121 square kilometers, it may be difficult to explore the entire city without public or private transportation. However, if you truly want to navigate the area by foot, what you can do is prepare an itinerary of destinations that are close to each other. Moreover, make sure that you are prepared for this challenging journey, considering that San Francisco has diverse neighborhoods, hilly terrain, and unpredictable weather.

The best way to explore this vibrant city is still to have your own private transportation. Rental cars SFO, for instance, are readily available at San Francisco Airport, allowing you to have a smooth, comfortable, and convenient ride going to your hotel or any destination you’d like to visit. Other modes of transportation that can help you navigate the city include private cars, taxis, ride-sharing vehicles, and public transportation, such as buses and trains.

Do not be discouraged though. Visiting famous SanFo spots on foot will enable you to immerse yourself in the city’s unique charm, discover hidden gems, and experience the vibrant culture up close and personal.

Sample Route When Exploring San Francisco By Foot

Exploring “The City” without a vehicle is possible if you have a strategically planned itinerary. Here is a sample route you can take if you wish to discover San Francisco’s rich culture, beautiful landmarks, and diverse neighborhoods on foot.

Start at Union Square, a busy but popular shopping area where you can admire and appreciate the surrounding architecture and perhaps grab some snacks or coffee for the walk ahead.

Union Square San Franscisco
Union Square San Franscisco

Head towards Chinatown, where you can stroll through Grant Avenue and Stockton Street and visit various kinds of shops, marketplaces, and traditional architecture.

Next, go to the adjacent North Beach or—as others would call it—San Francisco’s “Little Italy.” Here, you can visit Washington Square Park, enjoy the European atmosphere, and try some local Italian cuisine.

Hike up to Coit Tower for a panoramic view of San Francisco Bay and the city. You will also get to see the Telegraph Hill neighborhood, its charming staircases, and historic homes.

If the walk makes you hungry, you can descend to Fisherman’s Wharf for a sumptuous seafood lunch. But that isn’t only what you can do here. You can also visit the historic piers, explore Ghirardelli Square, and enjoy the lively waterfront events and activities.

Afterwards, walk to Pier 39 to witness the famous sea lions of SanFo. This also offers an excellent view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Alcatraz Island. Visit several shops and buy souvenirs if it pleases you.

If you follow the direction of the waterfront, you will see the Embarcadero Promenade where you can enjoy views of the Bay Bridge, Ferry Building Marketplace, and some art installations.

In the Ferry Building Marketplace, you will find interesting shops and artisanal food vendors. Consider trying some local delicacies or grabbing a snack for later.

If you have some more energy left, navigate through the Financial District and marvel at the iconic Transamerica Pyramid. This is where you can observe the bustling business atmosphere of the city.

Finally, complete your journey at the Embarcadero BART Station, where you can easily access public transportation as you return to your hotel or continue your exploration of the city.

Helpful Tips for Your San Francisco Walking Tour

If you’ve decided to try a walking tour to explore the beautiful city of San Francisco, here are a few tips that can make this experience a success.

If you are traveling with a group, make sure all the members have the strength and energy to tolerate the long walk. Skip this plan if you are traveling with young children and senior adults.

Group Walking San Francisco
Group Walking San Francisco

Wear comfortable shoes and clothing. Bring an umbrella, too, in case it’s too hot or it starts to rain.

Bring your own water bottle to keep you hydrated. If you don’t have one, make sure to buy a bottle of water whenever necessary.

Bring enough cash, especially if you plan to shop, buy souvenirs, or try out many food choices. Prepare other modes of payment, too, such as credit cards or e-wallets for convenience.

If you’re bringing a back, pack it lightly with only the basic things you need. 

Finally, if all else fails and you think that a walking tour of the city is not your cup of tea, don’t hesitate to choose the best transportation that will enable you to complete your exploration. Hiring a Dollar rental car may cost you some money, but it sure is more convenient and more comfortable than visiting one place to another by foot. 

No matter how you choose to explore the city of San Francisco, the important thing is to embrace the unique experiences that come with it and create lasting memories with yourself or your family.

About Susan Laurent
Susan Laurent
I'm passionate about world cultures, travel, and discovering amazing new places. I've spent years traveling the globe, very often alone, so I focus on providing important information about travel safety to travelers that I've gathered from first-hand experience.
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