It's hilly, bohemian and the cultural centre of northern California, but there's much more to San Francisco than just trolley cars, hippies and an old jail. For example, San Francisco has a Gold Rush history, a dynamic wine culture and is the birthplace of fortune cookies. Who knew? Here are some more things to know.
Australian passport holders are eligible to holiday in the United States for up to 90 days without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program. In order to travel under this program, you must apply and be granted authorisation through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization prior to your trip. Please be aware this information is only a guideline. For up-to-the-minute visa information, contact your local US embassy.
The currency in the USA is the US Dollar. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and the US Dollar changes constantly, so in the lead-up to your trip, monitor the rate to get the best deal. For safe spending while overseas, consider bringing a credit card or travel money card with you. Pre-paid Cash Passports are ideal for international travel as they can hold a range of currencies, including US Dollars, and can also be used as a credit card.
As a coastal city, many menus in San Francisco showcase the local seafood. For the freshest bites, browse Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 where you can sink your teeth into the day's catch. A famous meal to try at Fisherman's Wharf is crab chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl, which showcases two of the region's specialities. Delis are another dining highlight in San Fran with many serving salami sandwiches since the city's Italian days. In the Mission District, the burrito reigns supreme as a dining favourite with numerous taquerias to be found. And then there is the famed Chinese food of Chinatown, the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and a popular choice for cheap and easy dining. Another must-try is the local chocolate from Ghirardelli plus its world-renowned hot fudge sundaes and other old-school fountain treats.
Nightlife in San Francisco comes in a range of flavours across the neighbourhoods. In SoMa (South of Market Street), things get quite dancey with a number of electronic and hip-hop clubs, while the Mission is more alternative with artsy boutique bars and live-music venues. For something more slick, the Marina District takes its wine and cocktails very seriously, while cheap drinks and rowdy student-friendly clubs stay open until sunrise in North Beach. You can also take in trashy trannie shows, get mired in '50s nostalgia, and try organic mixers and cocktails at numerous venues for an eclectic vibe that's totally San Fran.