- By Kevin
- On Mar 15, 2018
- North America
- Travel Tips
How to arrange a San Francisco vacation on a budget?The City by the Bay still has some great affordable experiences,if you know where to look.We share the best bargains there,and useful travel tips about the trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
Spa in Japantown
For$25 you can luxuriate in Kabuki Springs’superb Japanese spa in the Kinokuniya Building on the corner of Fillmore and Geary.There’s a sauna,steam room,series of pools and showers,salts and teas.It’s amazing how refreshed and recharged you feel once you’ve been there,and it gives you another reason to visit Japantown.
Wonderful San Remo Hotel
Airbnb and other rentals have skyrocketed in recent years and you’ll be hard pressed to find a room or an apartment that is cheaper than in this gorgeous old hotel/hostel.It’s in North Beach,just far enough from the tourist craziness of the wharf,but near enough so you can wander to the ocean.The hotel is a tumbledown place with a decor that includes plastic vines and doilies and the building houses an Italian restaurant that has jazz nights on Wednesdays.It’s noisy,rundown,and has rooms with brass beds that squeak,but there is nothing sterile or over-gentrified here–a relief after all the industrial-chic barebones places nearby.
Skip the touristy Chinatown on Grant and explore its more authentic side.Head up the hill to Stockton Street(between Sacramento and Jackson Streets)for a chaotic assault on your senses.This is where the Chinese grannies come to buy all kinds of unrecognisable goods.If you go on a Saturday or Sunday,you’ll find yourself elbowing your way through crowds,spotting buckets of snakes and frogs,absorbing unusual smells from traditional medicine shops and watching a guy on the sidewalk taking a hatchet to a live fish.For a slower pace,head down to Waverly Place,a small alley,to listen to the sound of mahjong tiles games.Make sure to look up to see the beautiful painted balconies on buildings that used to be the headquarters of feuding tongs.
Great happy-hour hideaway
My friends and I stumbled into the Romper Room last week after checking out the First Thursday Gallery Walk(an art walk organised by the San Francisco Art Dealers Association)and I’d forgotten how much I like this bar.It’s in an unassuming little spot on Maiden Lane,surrounded by expensive boutiques like Chanel and Diptyque,and Frank Lloyd Wright’s original model of the Guggenheim in NYC.The bar attracts a diverse after-work crowd as well as shoppers.There is great,kitschy decor and the upstairs Leopard Lounge offers plenty of seating and a great view of what’s happening below.The best part of all though is that happy hour goes until 8pm!(Mon-Fri).It’s$6 for drink of the day and$5 for a sparkling wine.Definitely a unique spot worth checking out when you need a break from the shopping madness of Union Square.
Free concerts–Sundays in Stern Grove
Summertime Sundays are best spent soaking up the music in Stern Grove,home to admission-free concerts.Check their line-up,which includes acts from Janelle Monae to the New Pornographers to the SF Symphony.Donations($5-10)requested,but no one is turned away for lack of funds.The Muni M or K line streetcars will drop you within a couple blocks of the location.