San Francisco is without a doubt, one of the greatest cities in the world. With so much to see and do, it can be overwhelming trying to make the most of limited free time.

For me, SF is practically my second home. I spend 50% of my year there on biz travel. Its casually intensive environment, eclectic neighborhoods, and stunning bridges all have me leaving a little piece of my heart behind whenever I take off for home.

To share my love of the Bay (bae) with others, here are some biz travel tips for making your trip hella great.

What to Wear:

The fog that the area has lovingly named “Karl” can create quite the temperature variation (pro tip: follow @karlthefog on Twitter). Layers for wind and rain are highly recommended. I even pack a pair of gloves in my bag because it can get that chilly at night. In addition, pack comfortable work shoes. I own a pair of Rothys which are woman traveler’s best friend–a bit pricey, but well worth it for the comfort and ability to wash.

For style, leave the formal suits at home unless told otherwise. I remember one of my first business trips to SF I was wearing a black pant suit and looked like I was FBI agent on a mission. Now, you can typically find me in a navy blazer, button-up, and a nice pair of jeans.

Where to Stay:

I am partial to Marriotts and since I work for a public institution, I am able to get the Government rate. However, when the Government rate isn’t available, Upside‘s hotel view always shows me flexible options near or outside my meeting location or I’ll stay a bit outside the city in an AirBnB. I like places in Noe Valley, Bernal Heights, and Hayes Valley–while a little further out from the city center, the neighborhoods themselves are quiet, offer plenty of safe running parks and a variety of shops and restaurants.

How to Get Around:

Don’t rent a car, but if you do, make sure you give yourself enough time. The rental terminal is about a 10 minute tram ride from the main part of the airport. SF should be known as the ride-share capital of the world. The public transportation in the city isn’t the best; however, if you are needing to go somewhere else in the Bay, it can be an option. CalTrain will take you up and down the peninsula–Palo Alto, San Jose, etc. and BART is great for avoiding the always-jammed Bay Bridge and getting over to East Bay. If you need to get to Marin County, take the Ferry— faster, cheaper, and better views.

What to See:

Golden Gate, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz (tickets need to be purchased in advance), Pier 39, Lombard St, Haight-Ashbury, and a cable car ride (cash only) are definite must-sees.

However, I would definitely recommend skipping: formal tours, Museum of Ice Cream or The Color Factory, and trying to get to Wine Country during a business trip (don’t even try it).

What I truly recommend might be for a second-timers trip to the Bay or if you have an usually long business trip: sailing Groupon for SF (you will be able to get the best pictures and drink), SF MoMA, Giants game (tickets are cheap right now and the stadium is definitely worth a look).

What to Eat and Drink:

There are plenty cuisine/bar options in SF–think of it, SF has it. In addition, there are so many Michelin starred restaurants in SF. However, I doubt most of us have a per diem to cover a chef’s tasting night out. Here are a few dinner and bar suggestions based on popular SF neighborhoods:

North Beach: Firenze by Night (the gnocchi tastes like pillows of amazing), The Saloon (oldest bar in the state, cash only), Comstock (have the oysters, they are delicious!)

Mission: La Taqueria–skip the new restaurants and go with this classic. Any of their burritos “dorado” style will have you comparing all other Mexican food to this experience.

Marina: Greens in Ft Mason offers beautiful views of Golden Gate and has a completely vegan menu. The Interval at Long Now offers a unique bar experience.

Union Sq./Chinatown: Yank Sing is dim sum heaven.

Fisherman’s Wharf: Grab a chowder in a bread bowl (any of the little restaurants, but I am partial to Alitios for the views) and an Anchor Steam Beer.

Also, if you haven’t had In and Out before, go ahead and get yours animal style #noregrets.

Meet our Upside Guest Blogger!

I’m Chelsea and I am proud member of the biz travel community. In my role as Regional Director of Development, Western Region for the University of Michigan (Go Blue!), I am based out of Ann Arbor and travel to the West Coast, primarily San Francisco 2-3x per month to meet with donors and alumni. The very nature of my work relies on business travel — you can follow my journeys on Instagram @chelsmichelle7 and Twitter @chelseamichelle.

Leave a Reply