- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals San Francisco Guide (PDF)
The City by the Bay is a friendly and fascinating place to relocate to. There's no shortage of attractions in San Francisco, which is positively brimming with activities for new arrivals and their families to enjoy.
Aside from world-famous attractions such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, San Francisco is also known for world-class shopping, vibrant and eclectic nightlife and dining options, as well as the natural beauty surrounding the city.
Shopping in San Francisco
There is a number of great neighbourhoods for expats to explore when shopping in San Francisco. Unlike many other cities, the city’s shopping districts are fairly spread out. Union Square is a good place to start, hosting some of the most recognisable designer stores, while Haight-Ashbury's hippie roots can still be seen as vintage clothing stores mix with exclusive boutiques.
Fillmore Street is, however, considered to be the best shopping street in the city. Lined with retailers and restaurants, the area is at the epicentre of upcoming trends and provides a wide variety of shopping options, from second-hand bookshops to upscale clothing stores.
Nightlife and entertainment in San Francisco
Expats looking for a good night out will find that there is no shortage of great bars and clubs in San Francisco. With everything from electronic music and hip-hop clubs to trendy lounges and stylish cocktail bars, there are always plenty of options for a night out on the town.
Head to SoMa to dance the night away, the Mission area for dive bars galore, and the Union District for classy cocktail bars.
Sports and outdoor activities in San Francisco
The premier outdoor attraction in San Francisco has to be the Golden Gate Park. Bigger than New York City’s Central Park and one of the most visited parks in the country, it attracts 24 million every year. Throughout its vast expanse, visitors will be able to explore, picnic and exercise at the park’s lakes, groves, trails and cultural venues. Muir Woods is a highlight, and we recommend newcomers take a stroll among the centuries-old, colossal redwood trees.
Other popular outdoor activities in San Francisco include taking a boat trip through the San Francisco Bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge or exploring the air above the city on a sunset plane cruise. Bicycling is also a popular activity, whether on the city streets or in the nearby mountains of Marin County.
►For a list of annual events in the city, see What's on in San Francisco
"I love the variety of things to do and see in San Francisco. On any day of the week there are so many things that I could get out to (if I had the money) – music, food trucks, comedy, great restaurants, lectures, festivals, fairs, free shows in parks – there really is never 'nothing to do'. But to be honest, if you're moving from Sydney and want to go somewhere that feels like home, California should be first on your list. The climate is practically the same (apart from Karl The Fog) and the people are lovely."
Read more about Aussie expat Katherine's experiences in San Francisco.
Are you an expat living in San Francisco?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to San Francisco. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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