San Francisco Bay Area Travel Guide

Natalie Arney, 02.01.19
Alternative Destinations: 10 min read
The San Francisco Bay Area is known as the home for America’s free spirits, alongside the thriving Silicon Valley. It’s comprised of a number of cities and counties, housing around 7.68 million people, and is also one of the most ecologically important habitats in California, boasting a diverse array of marine wildlife and birds.

san francisco golden gate bridge and cityscape San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge and Cityscape

The Bay Area is rich in culture (namely art, music and theatre), and also offers lots of opportunities to get involved in the local sports teams and enjoy delicious food in local eateries, so makes a perfect place to visit — no matter what you are there for.

Things to do in the San Francisco Bay Area

Haight Ashbury signs San Francisco Haight Ashbury road signs.

San Francisco

Officially known as the City and County of San Francisco, it is known for being the counterculture capital of the US. The city is also the financial, commercial and cultural centre of Northern California, alongside being a centre of liberal activism in the United States.

musee mechanique san francisco Musée Mécanique, San Francisco. Picture credit: Allison Meier

Things to do in San Francisco

The city is a popular tourist destination, offering a wide range of things to do. We recommend trying some of the following mainstream and more alternative things in San Francisco:

Where to eat in San Francisco

tommys joynt san francisco Tommy's Joynt, San Francisco. Picture credit: Flickr user binkle_28

saison restaurant san francisco Saison, San Francisco. Picture credit: City Foodsters

Alameda County

Taking up the majority of the East Bay area, Alameda County’s largest city is Oakland. It is also home to Berkeley, Fremont, and Livermore.

University of California Berkeley University of California, Berkeley. Picture credit: Charlie Nguyen

Things to do in Alameda County

Fentons Creamery Oakland Fentons Creamery, Oakland.

Where to eat in Alameda County

Marin County

The beautiful Marin County can be found north of San Francisco and is known as one of the richest counties in the US. Despite this, there are lots of free and cheap activities to enjoy in the area.

scomas restaurant sausalito Scoma's restaurant, Sausalito. Photo credit: Gary Stevens

Things to do in Marin County

Santa Clara County

Home to Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County is one of the most affluent places in America. The largest city in Santa Clara County is San Jose, which itself is a tech lovers paradise and home to major global technology companies such as eBay, Paypal, Adobe Systems, Western Digital, and Cisco Systems.

Android building Googleplex mountain view california Android building, Googleplex, Mountain View

Things to do in Santa Clara County and San Jose

jelly belly factory entrance fairfield ca Jelly Belly Factory, Fairfield. Photo credit: Flickr user m01229

Other Bay Area Highlights

Apart from the main counties and cities of the Bay Area, there are lots of other things to do and enjoy, including:

bodega head beach california Bodega Head Beach, Bodega Bay. Photo credit: Don DeBold

How to get to San Francisco and the Bay Area

There are a number of airports in the San Francisco Bay Area; the largest being San Francisco International (SFO), followed by Oakland International Airport (OAK).

The majority of the Bay Area is accessible from both airports by public transport, as the area is very well served, but there are also airports at San Jose Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport and Santa Rosa (Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport).

You can find domestic flights to the San Francisco Bay Area with Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, Sun Country Airlines, Allegiant Air, Southwest Airlines, Delta, United Airlines and more.

A wide range of international airlines fly to airports in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Norwegian, Volaris, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, and Philippine Airlines.

TAP Air Portugal will be flying between Lisbon and San Francisco International Airport from June 2019.

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