How to Live Like a Local in San Francisco

How to Live Like a Local in San Francisco

Whether you’re moving to the Bay Area for work, school, or as a stopover in your remote work adventures, you’re probably wondering what life in San Francisco will be like.

You’re not alone; people travel from all over the world to San Francisco. The city is globally recognized as one of the top tourist destinations in the world, and it recently dethroned New York as the “best city” in the world in 2021.

So if you’re new to the area and trying to get a “real” SF experience, we’ve got some recommendations to help you live like a local in San Francisco as soon as you unpack your boxes.

Living in San Francisco: What the locals do

Very quickly, you’ll find that most Bay Area residents are active, spend a lot of time outdoors, and frequently take advantage of the number of kitchens available to them.

With a huge range of food and drink options, including Michelin-starred restaurants like The Progress, specialty coffee roasters, brasseries, wine bars and a plethora of ice cream parlours, food is a central part of the San Francisco life. Like the outdoors, parks and beaches inside and outside the city are easily accessible.

So when you arrive, here’s how you can get started.

1. Hike or relax at the beach

How to Live Like a Local in San Francisco

Longtime residents of San Francisco enjoy the diverse number of hiking trails and beaches around the Bay Area. From the old reserve Ocean Beach to the more obscure Mile Rock Beach, as well as urban hikes through city parks like Lover’s Lane at the Presidio, newcomers may not realize just how much outdoor activity there is. there is to do within the San Francisco city limits. The hottest summer months are the foggiest in the city, so dress accordingly.

San Francisco is only 7×7 miles, and many locals escape the city on weekends and explore nearby trails in East Bay and Marin County. There’s nothing better than packing lunch with family and friends, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, and exploring all the Bay Area wildlife has to offer. Some of our top picks are below.


  • China Beach: A small local beach in the Inner Richmond neighborhood with a fantastic view of the Golden Gate Bridge Fort Funston. With rolling dunes and stunning views, this beach is perfect for walking your dog while watching hang gliders
  • Rodeo Beach: About a half-hour drive north of San Francisco, Rodeo Beach is a quiet, secluded beach next to the Marine Mammal Center, a great place for families and kids.

hiking trails

  • Tennessee Valley: This trail meanders to a secluded beach with fantastic views. For renters with children, there is a ranch next door that can help the little ones learn to ride
  • Batteries to Buffalo Trail: Be prepared for a bit of wind on this hike with stunning views that leads directly to the Golden Gate Bridge

Twin Peaks – Many never think of taking a quick trip to this 64-acre park, full of local coastal scrub and grassland, and a trail that leads to 360-degree views of the area

2. In San Francisco, snacks and drinks heal all wounds

How to Live Like a Local in San Francisco

People come from all over the world to enjoy the richness and diversity of San Francisco cuisine, beer and spirits. You can opt for high-end restaurants and bars, which you’ll find all over the city, but you can also find other lower-cost options. And if you’re a sports fan (no Seahawks or Dodgers fans here!), there’s nothing better than watching the Giants, Warriors or 49’ers with a pint of Anchor Steam and the California sun to wash them away.

Classic restaurants and bars

  • Tempest and Box Kitchen – If you want a true SF experience with delicious food, a rowdy crowd, and cheap drinks, this is the place to catch a game or catch up with friends.
  • Tosca – There’s nothing more classic than a long wooden bar, a wall of all your favorite spirits and red leather booths to enjoy a meal with friends and family
  • Pizzetta 21 – If you’re looking for a quiet, down-to-earth and absolutely delicious pizza dinner, look no further than this quaint hole in the wall
  • Specifications – This ancient haunt has been a favorite watering hole of North Beach artists, poets and musicians for over 50 years
  • Last Rites – This unique tiki bar contains cocktails, giant skulls, and airplane seats. What more could you ask for?
  • Martuni’s – Just around the corner from Market and Valencia, this one-of-a-kind martini bar is cheap, friendly, and has live music almost every night!
  • Toronado Pub – A cash-only beer bar with a long list of draft options, both local and international. It’s a great place for an unpretentious vibe, and to sip Pliny the Elder (or wait for the limited Pliny the Younger release)

3. Enjoy the visual and performing arts

How to Live Like a Local in San Francisco

San Francisco isn’t just about sourdough bread, Summer of Love, and streetcars (although San Franciscans love all of those things). Enjoy your cappuccinos in North Beach and your cheap pint in Toronado, but remember that San Francisco is all about getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new! Below are some live experiences that we know you will enjoy.

comedy clubs

Although San Francisco isn’t known for its comedic legacies like New York or Chicago, clubs like The Punch Line, Cobb’s Comedy Club, and The Set-Up are great places for solid laughs, intimacy, and good food. weather, perfect for a group of friends or a date. Some recent celebrities who have visited San Francisco are Dave Chappelle, Tom Poppa and Dave Attell.


San Francisco has a deep theatrical history. The actors came from all over the country to perfect their craft under the sun and the fog. Famous theaters like ACT have deep routes into the community and are located in the heart of the theater district. Magic Theater hosted Sam Shepard and his famous play Buried Child. Finally, the Castro Theatre, although it now shows more movies than shows, is a landmark and well worth a visit.

live music

With one of the most eclectic scenes in the country, San Francisco offers music from all generations, genres and communities. If you’re a music lover and new to town, the best way to experience the city is to visit places like the infamous Fillmore West, where icons like Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone and the Grateful Dead once played. play. The Great American Music Hall is another staple of the San Francisco music scene, along with the Rite Spot Cafe if you’re looking for a more intimate experience.

4. get out of town

How to Live Like a Local in San Francisco

Besides the hiking trails, there’s so much to do in the Bay Area, and you’ll find that many locals often escape the city on weekends to explore nearby towns and California landscapes.

Scenic routes

Some of the most scenic and stunning roads are found on the west coast. What’s even better is that most of them are only about 30 minutes away. Experience the serpentine Highway 1 winding its way to the surf and skateboard town of Santa Cruz. There are some great farms, restaurants and viewpoints so be sure to make a day of it. One of our favorite trips is to Bolinas, an infamous semi-secret beach town next to Stinson Beach. Drive north on Highway 1 from Stinson Beach, then turn left on Olema Bolinas Road. Direct beach access is at the end of Brighton Avenue.

Hot Springs

San Francisco and the Bay Area are full of natural hot springs for those who want to brave a hike or possibly the cold. Steep Ravine Hot Springs is an oceanside spring that can be challenging for some, but worth it if you’re comfortable with challenging hikes. Alternatively, if you’re interested in a bit of a drive and enjoy camping, Orr Hot Springs is another great spot. The staff is friendly, there is a restaurant on site and they offer yurts!
If you’re not one for hiking or the great outdoors and want to stay in San Francisco proper, you can find Kabuki Hot Springs on the edge of Japantown. It’s a longtime staple for residents to unwind and relax.

5. Eat bread and drink coffee

How to Live Like a Local in San Francisco
Credit: Philz Coffee

This city is full of top-notch bakeries and coffee roasters. On weekend mornings, you may encounter long lines of people waiting for their installments and pastries.

Dutch crispbread

San Francisco is known for its sourdough from bakeries like Josey Baker Bread and Boudin, but many locals don’t even realize that Dutch Crunch truly reigns supreme. The roll isn’t exactly remarkable, but the white roll, brushed with rice flour and sugar, with a mixture of rice flour and sugar, creates a magical cracked and crinkled topping that puts the “Crunch” in the Dutch Crunch Bread. You can find this type of bread almost anywhere, so be sure to ask for it at your favorite grocery store or grocery store.

Philz Cafe

A longtime Bay Area staple, this coffee chain specializes in single-serve, pour-over blends that incorporate fruits, spices, and herbs. There are a ton of different types to try, many of which are unique and all of which are delicious.

6. hang in a park

How to Live Like a Local in San Francisco

The 220 parks located in San Francisco are an integral part of everyday life. Because the weather is usually quite temperate for most of the year, every weekend you’ll find the parks packed with people reading, having dog encounters, playing tennis, or just hanging out with friends. From massive parks like the Golden Gate and the Presidio to smaller parks like Alamo Square and Mission Dolores, you have plenty of places to explore and spend a Saturday afternoon.

Mission Dolores Park

“Dolo” fills up quickly, especially at the first sign of warm sunny weather. It is a very popular place for people of all ages to spend their weekends and is known for its colorful and energetic energy. You’ll find plenty of people stopping by the nearby Bi-rite market to stock up on snacks and drinks before grabbing a spot to drink, people watch and party.

Alamo Square Park

Best known for the ‘Painted Ladies’, the row of colorful Victorian houses against the backdrop of the downtown skyline, this park sits atop a hill with off-leash dog trails and plenty of green space to relax. . You’ll find people gathered on both sides of the park to watch the sunset behind the hills to the west, or to watch the sky turn purple and pink over the downtown skyline.

Living in San Francisco gives you a life full of the outdoors, great food, and awesome culture. San Francisco is constantly changing while staying true to its traditions and age-old people. So whatever your fancy, new and old residents are constantly finding new things to experience in the city. As you settle in, you’ll quickly find that you’re getting the most SF experience you can get right out of your home.

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