Dos and Don'ts
Get on the Bus! Take advantage of—and behave properly on—this crowded city's excellent public transportation: Don't block doors; move to the back of crowded buses; and please don't stand on the left side of long BART escalators (it's the passing lane). If you do drive, watch for cyclists.
Live and Let Live. San Francisco is famously welcoming of all types of people. Keep in mind that what looks outlandish (or even unpleasant) to you may simply be a person going about his or her daily business. Don't stare or point, and don't take photos of a person without at least asking first. Be careful about making any assumptions about the people you meet. And keep in mind that jokes that denigrate any group of people will probably not be well received.
Not Quite Southern California. While the City by the Bay is casual in many ways, if you wear flip-flops or beachwear to a chic hotspot, you'll feel underdressed. (Plus, when the fog rolls in, you'll wish you'd worn something warmer.) Personal style is encouraged; lack of style is not.
Table for You. San Francisco is a foodie town—it takes its restaurants very seriously and asks that you treat them with respect, whether it's a Mission taqueria or a swanky new bistro. Arrive on time for reservations, be respectful of professional restaurant staff, and do your part not to disturb the restaurant's artfully achieved ambience.
Welcome to Our Home. Because the City is so compact, all its neighborhoods are neighborhoods where people work and live—often in very small apartments. Be respectful of the fact that wherever you are in San Francisco, you're likely in a San Franciscan's living room.
Rachelle Waksler, Professor of Linguistics at San Francisco State University, provided expertise on San Francisco's lingo.
Out to the Avenues: Heading to San Francisco's Richmond and Sunset districts, largely residential areas located on the city's outskirts and crossed by a series of avenues.
BART: Bay Area Rapid Transit, the underground train system that runs through San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area.
The City: What the locals call San Francisco.
Frisco: Only newbies would use this abbreviated name for San Francisco.
Hella: This Bay Area original adds intensity or quantity, as in "It hella stinks in this bus" or "I tried on hella pairs of shoes."
Muni: San Francisco's public transportation system, which includes buses, streetcars, light-rail vehicles, and cable cars.
NoPa: Stands for North of Panhandle (of Golden Gate Park). New eateries make the NoPa District a hot dining destination.
The Peninsula: The area between San Francisco and San Jose. Head there for a little more sunshine when fog covers the city.
SoMa: Short for South of Market Street. The SoMa District, with all its clubs and stylish lounges, is known for its nightlife.
The Valencia Corridor: A trendy section of the Mission District along Valencia Street filled with restaurants and boutiques.
Travel Photos From Your Shot
View scenes of Canada's city life and countryside—all taken by our Nat Geo photo community.