Affordable Adventures: San Francisco

July 15, 2017

Affordable Adventures

San Francisco is an amazing city! I’m biased, however, because I was born and raised in the Bay Area and I am so happy to say this is my hometown. And although travel can be costly it doesn’t have to break the bank. Luckily there lots of affordable things you can see or do while visiting this great city. So here is a list of a variety of inexpensive things you can do in San Francisco and the East Bay that are fun and affordable.

|East Bay|


Berkeley is a city with plenty of history, and Telegraph Avenue is famous for its human rights riots and protests that stem back to the 1960’s. Years ago it was a sight for people’s rights and anti-war movements, presently it is a bustling neighborhood of young college students, hippies, and locals most of whom wear yoga pants and shop at Whole Foods.

How affordable is it?
Free (depending if you go shopping or grab a bit to eat)

Cheese Board

This is a very popular pizza place that offers amazing pizzas with prefixed toppings that change daily. You can, however, request your pizza to be gluten-free or vegan. Open since 1967 then sold to the employees in 1971 it then became a 100% worker-owned business. Split into two shops, one can find amazing pizzas on one side of the shop and on the another a wide assortment of cheese, freshly baked bread, and pastries.

Often you will see a line of people out the door but it moves quickly as the Cheese Board team quickly shuffles fresh hot pizzas into the hands of their hungry customers. The pizza’s served each day are vegetarian pizzas, with unusual cheeses from their store, a variety of veggies all on top of a thin sourdough crust. During lunch and dinner, you will find live bands playing various genres of music for the entertainment of its customers. Be sure to check out the hours because they close certain weeks in the year for holidays.

How affordable is it?
$22 for a whole pizza

Lake Merrit

Located in downtown Oakland this is a beautiful place to take a walk or have a picnic. There are plenty of bars and restaurants nearby so you can spend some time outside in the sun then head inside a cool place to grab a bite to eat and drink. Check out the official site here for events and more information about the park.

How affordable is it?

Hike Wildcat Canyon

Wildcat Canyon is a combination of the Richmond, Oakland and Berkeley hills which stretches across the East Bay encompassing Tilden Park to Alvarado Park adding up to a total of 2,427 acres. At the top of which you can find amazing views of the whole California Bay Area. Hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, and those just looking to get away from the city can be found enjoying the wild terrain of these California hills. Click here to see a list of best hiking trails in Wildcat Canyon.

How affordable is it?

Jack London Square and the Port of Oakland

The Port of Oakland is a great place to look at the enormous container cranes which allegedly inspired the tall AT-AT Walker in the George Lucas film, Star Wars. The Port is also a beautiful place at sunset to watch the San Francisco city skyline turn from day to night.

Jack London Square is a lovely little spot close to the Port of Oakland with restaurants and a huge bowling alley containing an arcade, restaurant, and bar. It’s a nice place to explore no matter the weather.

How affordable is it?
Free depending on your choice of activities

Flea Markets

Enjoy the local flea markets! There are several markets spread throughout the Bay Area every Sunday and sometimes Saturday. New and used items can be found for amazing prices. You can find anything and everything here for a good price and reasonable conditions. Make sure to double check what you’re buying and don’t be afraid to haggle a little with the seller to find a price that makes everyone happy. There is the Berkeley Flea Market at the Ashby Bart Station, also in Antioch, San Pablo, San Jose, and Alameda Point. Not to mention much smaller markets and garage sales so you can recycle used goods and find unique items. Here is a list of all Bay Area flea markets, check it out!

How affordable is it?
Entry fee is usually $5 – $15 depending on which market you visit.

Kennedy Grove


If you’re looking for a cool semi-private place to hang out Kennedy Grove is a nice park to take a walk, have a BBQ, or play volleyball or horseshoe. This park is located between El Sobrante and Orinda close to De Anza lake. On a quiet day, you might find you have the entire park to yourself. On a busy day, you may find birthday or holiday celebration filled with music, balloons, BBQing, and families.

Dogs are allowed at the park as long as they remain on a leash. If you choose to walk a little further outside of the central park dogs are allowed to run freely while owners and canines alike enjoy the fresh air. The grove contains many tall standing eucalyptus trees which gives the air a lovely aromatic scent.

How affordable is it?

|San Francisco|

Giants game

San Francisco Giants Game

There is nothing like going to a Giants baseball game drinking beer and eating garlic fries. While baseball might not be the game for everyone, it is always a good atmosphere to experience. The food and drinks are usually expensive and many people pre-game before entering the field by going to a nearby bar, which, if you hadn’t guessed is usually packed with Giants fans.

Some people pay for stadium parking and “tail-gate” right outside of the park. They bring big trucks, plenty of booze and food and party hard before the gates are open to the public. Once inside I highly recommend the garlic fries! You can also find hamburgers, hot dogs (we even found a vendor outside of the park selling “dirty dogs” sounds strange but it was amazing!), pizza and nachos are all served inside the park.

The cheapest tickets are the bleachers where you can sit with the rowdy crowd for about $35 a person; depending on the game tickets can get as high as $300 or over $1000 for the private club space upstairs which has exclusive access, air-conditioned and in-seat wait service. However, no matter where you are sitting you are guaranteed to have a great time. Click here to purchase tickets.

How affordable is it?
Cost: $35 – $1000+



The Castro is a colorful and fun place to visit. This neighborhood was the first gay neighborhood in the United States, and in the 1960’s during the Summer of Love became known as a gay mecca. Many historical events have taken place in this district and are described as a major cultural destination for the GLBT community.

How affordable is it?

Haight and Ashbury


If you like history and shopping, the corner of Haight and Ashbury is a great place to get both. After the Great Depression, the houses of this neighborhood were left abandoned, then in the 1960’s, it was flooded with hippies looking for affordable rent. Since that time the bohemian subculture took root and remains there still. The clock seen on the corner of the two crossroads is stuck at 4:20 which is a code term for cannabis culture and is the time at which many people partake in smoking.

How affordable is it?
Free (depending on how much you shop)

Fishermans Wharf


Interested in seafood? The Fisherman’s Wharf is a good place to check out. San Francisco has many seafood restaurants but the wharf is a concentrated area with a variety of places to get your grub on. You can find a range of places that are either a bit on the expensive side or you can check out the street vendors and grab a quick lobster roll or whole crab which you can eat as you walk down the pier.

How affordable is it?
Food ranges from $15 – $50 per person

California Academy of Science

While there are many boring science museums in the world the California Academy of Science is not one of those museums. I can’t recommend this place enough! It is awesome!

“It is a renowned scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring, explaining, and sustaining life on Earth. Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it’s the only place in the world to house an aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum, as well as innovative programs in scientific research and education—all under one living roof.”

How affordable is it?

$35.95 – Adult
$30.95 – Senior (ages 65+ with ID)
$30.95 – Youth (ages 12-17)
$30.95 – Student (ages 18+ with ID)
$25.95 – Child (ages 4-11)
Children ages 3 and under always visit for free

Take the Trolly


The cable car tour is a great way to get from one side of the city to another while experiencing an out of date mode of transportation. Getting on the trolly you feel as though you’ve stepped back into the early 1900’s as you move from Market street past Lombard and into the Fisherman’s Wharf. In fact, some of the cable cars are from the late 1800/ early 1900’s. There are different routes the cars take some do your research before hopping on. Sometimes the line can be pretty long so the earlier you arrive the less time you have to wait.

How affordable is it?
Cost: $5.00 each way

Take the Ferry


It’s easy and inexpensive to hop on the ferry the and head to any of the east bay ports, or vice-versa. You get a great view of the city and enjoy the fresh ocean air as you cruise through the Bay waters. While in transport you can find snacks and drinks at the bar downstairs. Check out Golden Gate Ferry for more information.

How affordable is it?
Cost: (One-way ticket)
Free for children under 4
$5.00- $6.00 for seniors
$12.00 for adults

Walk along the Embarcadero

DSCF3929 (1)

On a nice sunny day, it’s great to walk along the Embarcadero from Pier 1 to 49. Along the way, you can get a great view of the bay bridge, stop at any of the numerous restaurants for a great lunch or beverage, check out the Ferry Building, and toward the end of the Embarcadero is Pier 39. It’s a long walk so be sure to wear your most comfortable shoes.

How affordable is it?
Cost: Free

Dolores Park


Check out Dolores Park for a beautiful day laying in the grass and people watching. This is a popular park that also features tennis courts, a basketball court, a soccer field, playground and an area for dogs. It’s a popular park that keeps pretty busy anytime the sun comes out so be aware of difficult parking.

How affordable is it?
Cost: Free

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)


The SFMOMA is huge! It’s almost overwhelming but it makes the cost of the ticket well worth it. You might be able to spend all day in this museum because of its size and the number of art installations. Know that it is closed on Wednesdays.

How affordable is it?
Depending on the featured artist the fees are as follows
Adult $25
Seniors (65 and older) $22
Young Adults (19-34 years old) $19
Children and Teens (0-18 years old) Free

Ok! That’s all I’ve got! I hope you guys have enjoyed reading this list of affordable things to do in the Bay Area and find it helpful in your upcoming travels. If you would like Affordable Adventures, click for more articles. I’d like to know what you think or if you have any suggestions of your own. If so comment below and I’ll be sure to reply.

Affordable Adventures: San Francisco



    1. That is one place I would love to visit. Glad to see there are so many cheap options in a city like San Francisco. I would really take that ferry ride.

      1. Yea the ferry ride was fun. Pretty windy but the view coming into the San Francisco port was really lovely.

    1. San Francisco is one of the cities I’ve enjoyed most in my visits to the US. Great to have some ideas for affordable activities and affordable eats. I’m kind of surprised that they charge to enter the flea markets though – I’m a flea market addict, always try and visit if I learn of any where I’m going and have never come across paid entrance fees before!

      1. It depends on which flea market you go to. Like the one in Alameda is really nice and it has some unique vintage items. And I am pretty sure the one in Concord is $5. Not all of them cost money but the really big ones or nice ones have an entrance fee.

        I love flea markets too. It’s always fun to come across something you really like at a cheap price.

    1. I live in SF and enjoyed reading your post. You managed to cover quite a bit of ground! Did you check out in food halls in SF?

      1. No! I’ve never heard of The Hall but I just looked up the site and the food looks AMAZING! The next trip I have back home that will be a top priority. Thank you for the suggestion!

    1. These are all great tips – especially taking the ferry! It looks like you get such great views, I’ll have to remember that when I visit 🙂

      Rosalie //

    1. Cool post! I love how you mention prices for everything! I’d love explore the San Francisco area and especially the gay neighbourhood 🙂

      1. Yea the Castor area is a great place. I like getting a coffee and taking a walk to all the shops. They have some really fun stores to check out.

    1. San Fran can be so expensive to visit, even for a day, so thanks for listing things that don’t cost too much. I love the city so I keep going back again and again.

      1. Yay! I’m glad you find this post helpful. It is an amazing city even though it’s so costly. I hope someday it will become more affordable.

    1. Great guide to San Fran. We have been a couple of times but there is still so much to see going by your list and yes of course it’s great to be able to budget a bit too. We definitely love riding around San Fran and Dolores Park looks like a good resting/photo stop.

      1. Yes! I spent New Year’s day in Dolores Park and it was so nice. A bit cold but that’s because it was January. Extra hint, there is also a really popular ice cream shop in the area. When we were there the line was out the door. We decided not to wait but it looked delicious. It’s called Bi-Rite Creamery.

    1. That pizza from the cheese board is totally drool worthy! Huge pizza lover so that would be a must stop! As for a Giants game…. maybe if they were playing the Brewers! 😉 haha

    1. I love guides like this! Affordable travel is totally my jam. I love all the food options you’e got here 😉

    1. San Francisco is pretty much top of my USA bucket list and this is a great guide! Good to know that it doesn’t have to be expensive. I love your photo of the skyscrapers rising above the palm trees in Dolores Park. And you’d never get me out of the pizza place in East Bay!

      1. Haha Thank you! Yeah, if you make it to Berkeley, The Cheese Board will be totally worth your trip.

    1. Love to see these cool places and things to do in San Francisco. I don’t know much about it and what it has to offer. I would love to have a picnic by the lake or get a cheesy pizza (though it is pretty cool they have vegan and non-gluten options).

      1. You could always combine the two and grab yourself a pizza then head to the lake. Thank would be a really lovely day 😉

    1. Great list! I lived in SF for two months a few years ago and was surprised at how expensive it is to live there. It is nice to have affordable options.

      1. It is expensive! And it takes time to learn what are the affordable thing to do in a city like this. I’m glad it helped 🙂

    1. I love San Francisco!

      My cousin and her husband live in Jack London Square and just opened an Urban Winery there! I am hoping to visit soon!

      The Cheeseboard…..Oh my do I miss it!

      1. Urban Winery?! That sounds awesome! I’ll have to check that out next time I’m in Cali. I miss SF too there is so much to do and see.

      1. I can’t recommend this place enough. you can spend the day there and learn and see so many cool things about our natural history and where the world is heading in the future. My favorite spot is the aquarium. It’s pretty impressive.

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