Kaplan City Guide: San Francisco

Living in California is not just an experience, it’s a lifestyle. The people are laid back and friendly, and the land offers a range of climates and terrains to explore, from the sunny beaches to the snowy mountaintops. If you are looking to acquaint yourself with the rich California lifestyle in a mild climate, then San Francisco is definitely the place for you. Spend your days at Ocean Beach or get lost in the expansive and beautiful Golden Gate Park. We had a chat with some past Kaplan Students, and they were happy to provide tips for the best places to visit while in San Francisco. Whether you want to explore the many fabulous museums or indulge in a bit of nature, there is plenty that this charming city has to offer.

students golden gate park
There is plenty to do in a youthful, lively city like San Francisco.


Sunbathe in Dolores Park

“Dolores Park is my favorite place to hang out with my friends on sunny days.”

Tip provided by:

Lea Tissot, France

Although San Francisco is known a bit more for it’s foggy weather, the sunny days are when everybody comes together and relaxes in the park. Dolores Park, in particular, is located in the Mission District and is the place to be whenever the sun is shining. Lie out on a blanket and bathe in the warm weather, getting that iconic tan that Californians are so famous for. Have a picnic with your friends or enjoy an organic ice cream from the Bi-Rite Creamery just across the street. If you fancy some food, the Mission District has some of the best Mexican restaurants in the city, so why not try some deliciously authentic cuisine. While in the park, you can even make friends with the locals, because San Franciscans are some of the friendliest people around!

dolores park
Soak up some sun and make some friends with a day in the park.


Explore the landmarks

“I would recommend the Twin Peaks. You have a view of the whole city of San Francisco. Absolutely amazing. The Golden Gate Bridge is also incredible.”

Tip provided by:

Rubem Davi de P. Cunha, Brazil

Sometimes, the best way to get to know a city is by seeing it from a new height. The Twin Peaks are two prominent hills just outside the city with an elevation of 922 feet (or 282 meters). Take a hike to the top and see the Bay Area from a new perspective. Or if you don’t want to hike, you can grab a seat on one of the tourist buses that drive you straight to the top. If you are looking to do something a bit closer to the heart of the city, visit the Golden Gate Bridge. With its astonishing 746-foot tall towers, Art Deco styling, and its famous orange color, it is a truly a sight to behold.  You are welcome to walk across the bridge on one the designated sidewalks, but don’t look down if you are scared of heights!

twin peaks san francisco
Look at that view of San Francisco! Now you can see it for yourself.


Embrace the Healthy Lifestyle

“Are you crazy about healthy food? Then you have come to the right place. If you want you can really enjoy your every day here. There are fantastic neighborhoods, amazing food cafés and restaurants, innumerable art shops, and famous stores.”

Tip provided by:

Oleg Bubnov, Russia

One of the trends that California has become known for is its love for health food.  Why not try one of San Francisco’s many vegan or vegetarian restaurants? Visit the Daily Heath Food and Deli for a smoothie or a pizza with guacamole. Or stop by the Green Heart Foods Café in the Mission, but be prepared to wait in line behind dozens of other excited people eager to try some tasty organic food. If you are looking for places in nature to exercise, take a jog along the pedestrian path next to Ocean Beach or join a bike tour and explore the vibrant streets of San Francisco.

healthy food san francisco
Californians definitely love their avocados. You can get almost anything with avocado!


Visit some classic movie and TV icons

“When I was in my country, I saw many movies which had San Francisco in the background. So I visited the places where the movies were filmed.”

Tip provided by:

Sungkyu Shin, South Korea

San Francisco is a familiar landscape from movies and television shows we all grew up with. The film industry may have started in Southern California, but San Francisco has a long, colorful history in film that would excite any movie buff. Visit the Hilford House from Mrs. Doubtfire in the Pacific Heights neighborhood, or take a walk over to Alamo Square Park to catch a view of the iconic row of Victorian-style houses from the popular television show, Full House. San Francisco was also home to the films Vertigo, The Joy Luck Club, Dirty Harry, and Alcatraz. So, no matter what genre of film or television you enjoy, there is something for everyone.

Victorian Houses San Francisco
These houses were made famous from featuring in the opening credits of Full House.


Learn more about how to study in San Francisco, and find out if studying in the USA is right for you.

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