Destination guide

Experience the best of San Francisco from vacation rentals

Once you hear the clang of the cable car and spot the vibrant Golden Gate Bridge, you too may soon leave your heart in San Francisco. Through the city's famous fog, you'll still be able to make rolling hills dotted with towering skyscrapers and ornate Victorian homes, as well as waterfront restaurants alongside the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. San Francisco's hotels, vacation rentals, and inns are also never far from the sprawling green space of Golden Gate Park, the treasures inside the Palace of Fine Arts, and the winding road of Lombard Street, plus a host of other attractions that cater to families, couples, and solo travellers.


You'll find historic sites tucked throughout the city, including out in the choppy waters of San Francisco Bay. Ride the ferry to Alcatraz – the notorious island prison and one-time home to Al Capone – and enjoy a narrated tour of the abandoned complex. The Presidio, an 18th-century military post turned into a park, offers trails, a golf course, and scenic lookout points. You can still explore Fort Point, whose rich military history spanned from the Civil War to World War II. Other must-see sights include Coit Tower, a grand 1930s column with stunning views of the city, and the 1898 Ferry Building, a ferry terminal that also features a trendy food hall.


Activities and attractions in San Francisco

Are you looking for attractions to see during your stay? Venture out of your cozy vacation rental and experience everything that makes San Francisco a one-of-a-kind vacation spot. These are some of the major attractions to see, all within 30 miles (48.2 km) of the city center:

  • Pier 39 (1.5 mi / 2.4 km)
  • Aquarium of the Bay (1.4 mi / 2.3 km)
  • San Francisco Zoo (6.5 mi / 10.4 km)
  • Yerba Buena Ice Skating Center (0.5 mi / 0.9 km)
  • Powell and Market Cable Car Turnaround (1.3 mi / 2.1 km)
  • San Francisco Zen Center (1.4 mi / 2.2 km)
Natural features

Exploring the natural landscape of San Francisco

Whether you're looking for adventure or just want to spend some time taking in the scenery, San Francisco is a great spot to appreciate mother nature. These are some of the area's noteworthy sights, all within 30 miles (48.2 km) of the city center:

  • Palace of Fine Arts (2.5 mi / 4.1 km)
  • Twin Peaks (3.4 mi / 5.4 km)
  • Mavericks (20.4 mi / 32.8 km)
  • Japanese Tea Garden (3.6 mi / 5.7 km)
  • Golden Gate Park (4.1 mi / 6.5 km)
  • Angel Island (5.8 mi / 9.3 km)
How to get there

Transportation to and around San Francisco

Fly into Oakland, CA (OAK-Oakland Intl.), the closest airport, located 11.8 mi (19.1 km) from the city center. If you're unable to find a flight that fits your schedule, you can also fly into San Francisco, CA (SFO-San Francisco Intl.), which is 11.9 mi (19.1 km) away.

If you're traveling by train, San Francisco 4th and King Station, San Francisco 22nd Street Station and San Francisco Bayshore Station are the main stations in the city. It's easy to get around San Francisco by catching a ride on the metro at Powell St. Station, Montgomery St. Station or Civic Center Station.

How to get around

Travelling around near your San Francisco vacation rental

Few San Francisco images are more iconic than catching a cable car down to Fisherman's Wharf. Fun as they are, cable cars aren't the fastest or cheapest mode of transportation. The city's light rail, subway, and bus lines all offer effective service across the city and throughout the Bay Area. You'll need nerves of steel to drive down San Francisco's steep streets, which may be exactly why ride sharing services and taxis are so popular in the city. Walking and biking can be a challenge due to the dramatic hills, but you'll find flat sidewalks and protected bike paths along the waterfront and throughout a number of neighbourhoods.

Food & drink 

From sourdough to steamed buns – eating across San Francisco

There's plenty of fine eating on hand in San Francisco, including authentic Japanese, Mexican, Vietnamese, and Italian eateries. For the ultimate Chinatown experience, head to a dim sum restaurant and choose from trays of mouth-watering dumplings, steamed buns, and spring rolls, plus fortune cookies – a local creation – and egg custard tarts for dessert. For hearty breakfast eaters, Joe's Special is a San Francisco original, featuring a mixture of scrambled eggs, spinach, and ground beef. Who doesn't love a bowl you can eat? Crusty sourdough bread bowls filled with piping hot clam chowder remain a San Francisco staple. And you can pair any meal with a glass of fine wine from nearby Napa Valley.

Essential info

Key information for your San Francisco vacation rental stay

More than 870,000 residents call the compact city home. English is San Francisco's official language and the US dollar is the accepted form of currency. For those dining out, remember, tips are not typically included, but you should consider 15-20% of the total bill as a gratuity. As with the rest of the United States, the legal drinking age in San Francisco is 21. Alcatraz may have shut its doors long ago, but crime is relatively prevalent throughout the city, so be aware of your surroundings, particularly at night. Dial 911 for emergencies should you need the police, paramedics, or fire department.

How many vacation rentals are available around San Francisco?

Our 2019 vacation rental listings offer a large selection of 1,975 house rentals around San Francisco. From 949 Condos/Apartments to 739 Houses, find unique vacation rental for you to enjoy a memorable holiday or a weekend with your family and friends. The best place to stay around San Francisco is on HomeAway.

What is the best area to stay when travelling to San Francisco?

Whether you're travelling with family or friends, here are the areas with the largest selection of vacation rentals for a holiday trip or just for a weekend in San Francisco:

  • Fisherman's Wharf: 813 vacation rentals
  • Union Square: 643 vacation rentals
  • Downtown: 715 vacation rentals
  • Pacific Heights: 337 vacation rentals
  • Richmond District: 841 vacation rentals

For other neighbourhoods, please use our search bar to access the selection of vacation rentals available.

What are the popular points of interest near where I can stay when travelling to San Francisco?

HomeAway offers a large selection of lodging choices near lovely places in San Francisco. From HomeAway travelers, the most popular points of interest to stay for a holiday trip or just for a weekend are:

  • San Francisco Botanical Garden: 2,347 home rentals
  • Fishermans Wharf Cable Car Turnaround: 2,318 home rentals
  • Moscone Convention Center: 2,373 home rentals
  • Balmy Alley: 2,382 home rentals
  • Pier 39: 2,318 home rentals

But there are many other points of interest around San Francisco listed on HomeAway where you can find your place to stay. Please use our search bar to access the selection of vacation rentals available near the point of interest of your choice.

Can I rent Condos/Apartments in San Francisco?

Yes, of course. HomeAway has 949 Condos/Apartments in San Francisco. Our other popular types of vacation rentals in San Francisco include:

  • Houses: 739 lodging choices
  • Cottages: 56 lodging choices
  • Villas: 4 lodging choices

But you can also enjoy a great stay in one of our other vacation homes including Bungalows and more.

Can I find a vacation rental with pool in San Francisco?

Yes, you can select your preferred vacation rental with pool among our 167 vacation homes with pool available in San Francisco.

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