indulging · travel

Frugal in San Francisco Part 2

Frugal in San Francisco Part 2Not having spent much time in the city of San Francisco, the point of our visit was to immerse ourselves in the neighborhood and walk everywhere.  When we arrived at our home exchange house on Sunday evening, we parked our car in their garage and agreed to not drive it again until we left for home at the end of the week.  Our frugal and fun activities in San Francisco were focused around walking around the city.  We walked everywhere and enjoyed the sights (and sites) as we went along.  Many stops involved getting food or shopping for food.  Here’s what we did and didn’t do for our frugal in San Francisco trip…

Frugal in San Francisco Part 2: Fun

Here’s what we did in San Francisco:
We walked all of the neighborhoods around our house – Chinatown, Little Italy, Union Square, the Embarcadero.  San Francisco City Guides has free walking tours and you can find out more about them here.

Frugal in San Francisco Part 2

Coit Tower had a beautiful view of the entire city.  We walked the Filbert Street steps and had a sunny day to enjoy the view from the top.  The stairs are no longer open so you have to take the elevator to the top (expensive- $6 each, but worth the splurge).

On another day, we walked to Grace Cathedral.  You can walk the labyrinth inside the church as well as outside in the courtyard.

Grace Cathedral

Our big splurge for the week was a tour of Alcatraz.  (This is the official Alcatraz site and all other sites will charge you more for the tickets.)  The Alcatraz tour included a ferry ride to and from.  It was so interesting to see the cells and hear the stories told by the prisoners on the audio tour.  The prison also had a library which I thought was great.  Get the early tour if you’re going.  The lines only get longer as the day goes on.


The gardens on Alcatraz are also very pretty and worth slowing down to see.

We also ran along the Embarcadero two mornings during our stay.  It was the only place we could find within walking distance of our house that was flat.  Both my husband and I need flat surfaces to run on and this proved challenging in hilly San Francisco!

Frugal Travel San Francisco

We also signed up for a library card while visiting.  We were fortunate to have two libraries just blocks from our house and ended up checking out and watching a couple of movies, too.

Here’s what we did not do in San Francisco:
We wanted to ride bikes over the Golden Gate bridge to Tiburon but we just couldn’t do it.  It is expensive to rent bikes for 4 people and we couldn’t do it just knowing we had 4 bikes sitting at home in our garage not getting used.  Next time, we’re bringing our bikes and doing the ride.

We wanted to ride the cable car but it was also pretty expensive (about 6 bucks a trip – one way).  So, we decided to make the cable car the splurge on a return to San Francisco.  Notice how we’re planning a return trip already?

Any sites we should see on our next home exchange to San Francisco?

Related posts:
Frugal in San Francisco Part 1
Frugal in San Francisco Part 3
Vacation Meal Planning
Our meal plan from our week in San Francisco
Need tickets to Alcatraz?  Check out Alcatraz Island Official Tickets

You can sign-up for InterVac Home Exchange service by clicking the image below. Type in the name “TETREAULT” at checkout and receive $5.00 off your membership. InterVac is short for International Vacation but you can do exchanges within your own country as well. This is the website we’ve used for all 7 and soon to be 8 of our home exchanges. If you’d like me to speak to your group or organization about home swapping, frugal living with style or blogging, please check here.

Intervac Home Exchange




Go Gingham Affiliate link

4 thoughts on “Frugal in San Francisco Part 2

    1. Julie, we did go by there but didn’t walk it this trip. Our home exchange house was actually very close to Lombard Street and we’ve driven it before. Next time! Thanks for leaving a comment!


  1. I think the Alcatraz trip is worth it, too. You get the bonus of getting out on the water!
    Having lived there for a couple of years, I have a lot of favorites, many of which are not frugal! But here are a some good ones:
    + Best SF Driving Moment: Skip Lombard and drive north on Divisidero from California St up over Pacific Heights. Wow!
    + Golden Gate Park: Japanese Garden, museums that have recently been refurbished, lots of room to run, bike, skate, picnic, etc.
    + Exploratorium: great for kids and adults
    + Palace of the Legion of Honor: Even if you don’t go in to this fantastic museum, the view is beautiful, as you are west of the Golden Gate Bridge.
    + The Beach: Yes SF is on the ocean and has a beach! If you go south of the zoo, there is a place to watch hangliders.
    + Haight Ashbury, The Castro, South of Mission: Lots of unique neighborhoods. I also like Pacific Heights for the gorgeous homes (and shopping and restaurants).
    + The baseball stadium: If you like baseball, this is a very good stadium to watch it.
    I’ll stop there! If you go in summer, be sure to bring a heavy coat/windbreaker!


  2. Another good spot to run is the Marina neighborhood. Alternatively, an excellent cross-training for runners is to start at Chestnut St in the Marina and climb up to Pacific Heights, say Union St. or Broadway, and back down. Repeat, then have one of those doughnuts!


Comments are closed.