How Not to Look Like a Tourist in San Francisco

Don't, under any circumstances, call the city San Fran. The name is San Francisco, S.F. if you're nasty. But never San Fran.
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by Chaney Kwak, Condé Nast Traveler

Photo by Ron Koeberer/Getty Images

With these tips on how to dress, what to avoid, and where to eat, you'll be right at home in San Francisco -- just don't call it San Fran.


Always layer. Don't wear one of those ill-fitting sweatshirts emblazoned with "San Francisco." Tourists, caught off-guard by the mad temperature swings in the Foggy City, often resort to buying those fleece billboards reminding you that, yes, you are in San Francisco. Locals will sooner root for the Seattle Seahawks than be seen in one of those.

If you must buy a sweatshirt, get anything related to the 49ers. Better yet, bring multiple layers you can shed and add as the climate changes from arctic to tropical back to arctic. As 30 Rock summed it up: "Have fun always carrying a light sweater."

And save those Google or Facebook T-shirts. Those are for transplants trying to impress landlords while applying for housing. (Wear them and you will be despised by most of us.)

Still, think casual... No matter how awash the city is with the deluge of new tech money, San Francisco is, and always will be, a West Coast town. Smart denim (San Francisco gave the world Levi's, after all) goes much father than couture.

...sans ax. Look in the mirror and ask, "Do I look like an amateur drag king imitating a lumberjack?" If the answer is yes, then you look like you work for a startup. Congratulations.

Leave your umbrellas at home. Not because the Weather Girls said so, but because true San Franciscans are ill-equipped for the rain. Instead of protecting yourself from precipitation, have a complete meltdown when there's more than a quarter inch of water falling from the sky. There, you look like a local already. Hope you're ready for massive airport delays.


Don't, under any circumstances, call the city San Fran. The name is San Francisco, S.F. if you're nasty. But never San Fran.

Do stroll around Chinatown, but don't make it a dining destination. The Richmond and the Sunset are where the locals go for authentic Chinese food.

Don't wear Google Glass thinking you'll blend in. Save the accessory for San Jose or Mountain View.

Do embrace your inner weird. When it's all said and done: Who cares? Most of us in San Francisco aren't originally from here; and those who are will welcome you into their fair city. So come as you are: Scratch the smooth veneer of the newfangled tech era, and you'll still find San Francisco is an eccentric town (for now).

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