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asf5017 Jul 13th, 2009 05:29 PM

San Francisco on the CHEAP
Hello all - My boyfriend and I (22 years old), will be staying for 10 days in San Mateo house sitting for my cousin. Since we are young, and poor, we are looking for some fun stuff to do and see, while saving money at the same time. We enjoy culturally events, outdoors activities, and local foods. We will have a car, so I would appreciate some day trip suggestions! Thanks in advance!

NeoPatrick Jul 13th, 2009 05:55 PM

Great idea. Which guidebooks have you read? Which threads here have you already read for research (there are dozens)?
Which things have you already picked out that you know you want to do, and which restaurants sound good to you? When we know these things we can really help you. Otherwise it's just a stab in the dark.

DebitNM Jul 13th, 2009 06:03 PM

San Francisco Public Library has free guided tours, although a tip at the end is appreciated. There are dozens of them, all different with different interests.

Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and back. It's free and a spectacular view.

Walk Chrissie Field to Fisherman's Wharf. Free

Walk through North Beach. Free

Go to Ferry Building Sat. morning and see farmer's market - free unless you buy, but there are usually lots of free tastes available.

Go on tour of City Hall amazing architecture - free.

Take the commuter ferry [not tour] to Sausalito, walk around there. Not much $$

Ride the historic F street car from Ferry building all the way to Castro, walk around and take it back to Union Square, walk around Union Square. $1.50 per person, each way

Take the bus to Haight Ashbury and walk around, $1.50 each way for bus.

Drive to Muir Woods, north of SF. Reasonable entrance fee and great hiking among the giant redwoods.

How's that for a start?


asf5017 Jul 13th, 2009 06:13 PM

Thanks Deb, great ideas! We are definitely planning on going to the Golden Gate Bridge and Chrissie Field. I've also read about a farmers market at United Nations Plaza (any good?). We are also of thinking of springing for the Alcatraz tour, and heading over to Angel Island. I've heard about wineries outside of SF with free/cheap tours (in order to get some of the Napa crowd), do you know of any? Thanks for the link, its great help!

DebitNM Jul 13th, 2009 06:21 PM

Here are some more:

Museums often have nights where the admission is lowered.

Alcatraz is worth the splurge in my book.

There are some free winery tours, but tastings usually cost. I haven't done them as we are not big wine drinkers.

Steam Works Brewery has a free tour with free tasting [and a lot of it] one day a week, but you do need to make reservations. It was a bit tricky getting to on the bus, but we did it. I'll come back with a link for it.

SF is my favorite city and it is easy to have a great time with little $$.

DebitNM Jul 13th, 2009 06:29 PM

LOL, wrong brewery [that one is in Durango CO!] SF city gov visitor guide

Culture bus and museums:

Presidio Trail

Go up to Berkeley and walk around campus and the nearby area; also the paths

The Presidio

Parrothead Jul 13th, 2009 06:41 PM

You don't say what time of year you'll be there so my suggestions are mainly summer suggestions.

Stern Grove in Golden Gate Park has free concerts on Sundays, checkout

Beaches are free, from San Mateo you could take Highway 84 to Highway 1 and go either north or south for as far as you'd like. Many locals prefer the beaches in Santa Cruz County which is best reached by taking 101 south to 880 south which becomes 17 south

The Bay Area is loaded with weekend art and wine festivals all summer long which are almost always free. The biggest events are Gilroy Garlic and Fremont Art & Wine

Scenic drives that only cost gas, tolls and food on the road are:
*Over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin Headlands and Mt. Tamalpais
*Picnic in Portola State Park (San Mateo County) or Big Basin Redwoods (Santa Cruz County) both charge a small day fee
*Highway 92 west to Half Moon Bay
*South along Highway 9 and or Highway 35 towards Santa Cruz area
*The UC Berkeley campus is beautiful, the city of Berkeley is an "interesting" city that many young people like. It can seem like a different world there.

Search for events on the AAA website VIA magazine for the SF Bay Area, the SF Gate website and even Craigslist events.

"Local foods" is pretty generic, but generally Mexican taquerias are very inexpensive and serve large portions, they are everywhere but Redwood City just south of San Mateo has some of the best Mexican food in the area. Chinese restaurants usually have good lunch plate specials in the $8-$12 range. There are tons of ethnic options also, which is as much a local cuisine as any other. The Bay Area is known as an expensive place to dine out, sales tax is hovering around 9% so it can easily cost $40 for 2 at a place like Chili's, so beware of the more expensive places.

asf5017 Jul 13th, 2009 06:48 PM

Deb, the links are great I'm finding some good stuff! Thanks for the tips parrothead, we will be visiting the first week of August.

DebitNM Jul 13th, 2009 06:57 PM

Hey, it's the least I can do for the daughter of my long lost twin! Ask you mom... <wink> Isn't the internet amazing?? That and being on 2 sites at once!


Parrothead Jul 13th, 2009 10:20 PM

Here is a link for San Mateo county wineries. If they have a tasting room it is probably free:

This link is for most of the wine regions in Northern California with even more options:

In general, most of the wineries with tasting rooms are free unless they are in Napa County. Some of the Sonoma and Monterey area wineries charge, some don't. Almost none of the Livermore, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz mountain wineries charge for tasting. Probably best to check their websites to verify, but that has been my experience in the past. With this economy, I can't be sure.

Parrothead Jul 13th, 2009 11:56 PM

Deb, could I ask what your last post means? I'm confused. Nothing negative intended, I honestly don't get what you mean.

DebitNM Jul 14th, 2009 05:32 AM

Sorry, it was an "inside" joke between asf and me. Unbeknownst to be, she is the daughter of an acquaintance of mine. Only after I gave all the info, did her mom tell me who she was.


Kailani Jul 14th, 2009 06:30 AM

Here is a link for free activities in SF.

janisj Jul 14th, 2009 10:45 AM

somehow I posted this on the wrong thread so I'll re-post it . . .

janisj on Jul 14, 09 at 10:09 AM
Definitely the wineries in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties over Napa/Sonoma -- closer to where you are staying, mostly free tasting, and MUCH less crowded than. Also Big Basin over Muir Woods. A bigger park and less crowded.

Big yes for Angel Island.

Dayenu Jul 14th, 2009 12:34 PM

Deb, buses are now $2. All prices went up.

DebitNM Jul 14th, 2009 12:36 PM

Oy, I better start saving extra for the next trip to SF!
Thanks for the heads up, Dayenu :)

asf5017 Jul 14th, 2009 06:01 PM

Parrothead, thanks for the suggestions on the wineries. We saw that the Scotts Valley Annual Art and Wine Festival is going on while we are there. Have you ever been? Looks like it could be fun.

Janisj, Big Basin looks great, a lot of trails! The waterfalls sound cool too. Do you know of any trails that aren't as big as Berry Creek Falls trail, but you still get to see some waterfalls?

Everyone has been really great with the info, this is shaping up to be a great/cheap trip!

Kailani Jul 14th, 2009 07:45 PM

Here are some of my favorite free or cheap things to do in SF or the Bay Area.

The Columbarium Tour

Balmy Alley Murals

Cayuga Playground Sculptures

Yerba Buena Center for free performances and people watching

Free Giant's games from outfield (standing), and walking along the bay.

Murals and gardens at the Beach Chalet

Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista

City Lights Bookstore Spec's Twelve Adler Museum Café in North Beach

Golden Gate Park for buffalo herds, swan shaped paddle boats, Japanese garden, glass houses, an old carousel, a windmill and tulip garden. The roads are closed to cars on Sunday. Museums cost money, but sometimes the roof views and gift shops and cafés are free.

Sea Chantey Sing along

Lots of atmosphere and fun programming at the Castro Theatre. I'm looking forward to seeing Patty Duke in person in Sparkle Patty Sparkle.

Come down to Palo Alto for the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Gardens, Cantor Museum, and exploring University Ave.

The Stanford Theatre is beautifully restored, and shows double features with an organist between films. $7 admission and affordable refreshments.

Also the Palo Alto Baylands.

The Santa Cruz Boardwalk is a lot of fun, and it's free to go there, although you pay for the rides.

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