Tours of the Tales

The first thing I recommend is to secure a good map of the City.  You have several options.

The first two options are paper maps:

"It's an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco.  It must be a delightful city and possess all the attractions of the next world."

Oscar Wilde

From MUNI:  The San Francisco Municipal Transportation (aka:  MUNI) systems map.  Most of the tours can be done on foot with the use of San Francisco's extensive MUNI system of busses, cable cars, and street cars for traveling to/from their starting and stopping points.  The maps are sold in various locations across the City.  A convenient place to pick up a copy of the map as well as to purchase MUNI Passes is at the MUNI Kiosk at the Powell/Hyde/Mason cable car turnaround at the intersection of Market and Powell.

Then, there is the option of digital/mobile maps:

If you are going 21st Century and don't want to bother with a paper map, you can use Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc.  (Each of the Tours of the Tales' self-guided walking tours includes a link to a Google Map developed specifically to that tour.  If you open the map on your mobile device and click onto the arrow that shows your location, you will be able to track where you are in relation to the tour's route.)

San Francisco is a very congested city.  Driving can be nerve wracking and parking can be nearly impossible to find...and expensive when you do find it.  You can use taxis or rideshare apps like Uber, Lyft, Sidecare, etc.  If you are adventurer and want a more direct experience with San Francisco, use the two major public transportation systems in San Francisco:  MUNI and BART.

MUNI:  If you are planning to take MUNI around the City, consider purchasing one of MUNI's Visitor Passports.  Passports provide all-day, unlimited travel on all MUNI buses, streetcars, and cable cars.  The Passports are available in 1-day, 3-day, and 7-day denominations.  NOTE: The Passports are not valid for travel on BART.  For more information about MUNI, click on its icon.  From that link you can get more information about MuniMobile (a fairly new application that allows you to purchasw, store, and uses tickets/passes as well as plan trips), information about fares and passes, as well as information on how to ride MUNI.  (Also see the section on mobile apps  further below on this page.)

BART:  The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is your best bet to get around many parts of the Bay Area if you don't have a car or don't want to run the gauntlet of the Bay Area's freeways.  If you are planning to use BART and other local public transportation systems such as MUNI, consider purchasing a Clipper Card.  More about the Clipper Card below.

If you want to appear less like a tourist and more like a San Franciscan, you might want to consider purchasing a Clipper Card.  There are times when looking and acting like a resident of the City has its benefits   A cable car's gripman and/or conductor often makes room on full car for a resident and denies boarding to a tourist.

The Clipper Card is a reloadable contactless smart card used for electronic transit fare payment in most of the San Francisco Bay Area public transit systems.  You can purchase and store you MUNI, BART, and other area transit passes on the Clipper Card.   If you are planning to use various public transit systems (buses, ferries, BART, rail, etc.) during you visit to the Bay Area, purchasing Clipper can make your travel less complicated.  Click on the Clipper icon for full information about the Clipper Card.  Carefully read the information on the website about on-line payments.

Getting Started

Mobile Apps:  There is an array of mobile apps that are helpful when visiting the city.  Because apps come and go, keeping an updates list of those apps on this page would require constant monitoring.  One place to start are the Apple, Android, and Blackberry app stores.  SanFranciscoTravel maintains a list of recommended apps.

I have an iPhone and I have found the Routesy Bay Area apps to be very helpful when using public transit in the Bay Area.  They are available in both a Free and a Pro version.  The Routesy Bay Area Free version only covers MUNI and BART; this is sufficient if you intend to only use those two transit systems.  If you think you will use Caltrain and AC Transit as well, consider spending $9.99 and purchase the Routesy Bay Area Pro version.

From AAA:  San Francisco map (Vicinity Series).  It not only includes the City itself, but also Sausalito and the Marin Headlands as well as portions of Belvedere, Brisbane, Daly City, and Tiburon.  (There is also the San Francisco-Daly City-South San Francisco (City Series) map.  It covers those cities listed on the map's title; it does not include Sausalito, etc.)  The Downtown San Francisco inset shows, in easy to read detail, the small lanes, alleys, and steps featured in some of the tours.  It also shows the three cable car lines, the Downtown BART and MUNI Metro stations, as well as MUNI's Historical F-Line street car.  There are four AAA offices within the City.  The Financial District/Downtown office is located at:  160 Sutter (between Kearney and Montgomery).  Visit the northern California AAA website for a complete listing of offices in the San Francisco Bay area (click on the AAA icon, then enter the Zip Code for Russian Hill:  94109).

TRANSIT 511:  This website is very handy for planning travel around the Bay Area on public conveyance.  It has an on-line trip planning tool.  It provides links to all of the Bay Area's public transportation systems/operations.  To access TRANSIT 511, click on its icon.  (Also see the section on mobile apps below.)