A Business Traveler’s Guide To San Francisco


San Francisco, the City by the Bay, is a mix of historic charm and cutting-edge innovation. As a key hub for industries like technology, finance, and biotech, San Francisco offers business travelers a unique opportunity to blend professional duties with the city's eclectic and dynamic culture. This guide will help you navigate the distinct landscape of San Francisco, making your trip both productive and enjoyable. Whether you’re walking through the bustling Financial District or taking in the breathtaking views from one of the city’s many hills, San Francisco has something to delight every visitor.


  • San Francisco, known as the City by the Bay, is famous for its iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Founded in 1776, the city became a boomtown during the California Gold Rush in 1849.
  • The fourth most populous city in California, with a diverse and dynamic population.
  • Home to the largest urban park in the U.S., Golden Gate Park, which spans over 1,000 acres.
  • Known for its tech industry, historic landmarks, and vibrant cultural scene, including world-renowned museums and theaters.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) – SAN FRANCISCO, CA


Where to Go:

How to Get to Downtown San Francisco
BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit)
Cost: $9.65
Time: Approximately 30 minutes

Cost: Approximately $45-$60
Time: 20-30 minutes (traffic dependent)

Cost: Variable
Time: 20-30 minutes (traffic dependent)


The Painted Ladies in San Francisco

San Francisco Dos & Don'ts

Embark on your San Francisco journey with insight and awareness, ready to immerse yourself in the city's unique blend of historical charm, cultural richness, and stunning landscapes. Following these tips will ensure a rewarding and smooth experience as you navigate the City by the Bay for business and leisure.


  • Dress in Layers: San Francisco's weather can change quickly from foggy and cool to sunny and warm. Layering your clothing is the best way to stay comfortable.
  • Embrace Public Transit: Utilize the extensive public transit system, including BART, Muni buses, and the iconic cable cars, to get around efficiently.
  • Explore the Neighborhoods: Each neighborhood in San Francisco has its unique character and charm. Spend time exploring areas like the Mission District, North Beach, and Haight-Ashbury.


  • Forget Your Comfortable Shoes: San Francisco is known for its steep hills. Comfortable walking shoes are a must for navigating the city.
  • Underestimate the Fog: The famous San Francisco fog can roll in unexpectedly, especially in the summer. Keep a light jacket or sweater handy.
  • Ignore the Local Cuisine: San Francisco boasts a vibrant food scene with diverse offerings. Don't miss out on local favorites like sourdough bread, Dungeness crab, and mission-style burritos.
Cable Car on a San Francisco street

San Francisco Public Transportation

Navigating San Francisco is key to a successful business trip. Here's how to make the most of the city’s transportation options:

1. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit)

BART is the backbone of the Bay Area’s public transportation system, connecting San Francisco with surrounding cities and suburbs, including Oakland and Berkeley. It’s a reliable option for getting to and from the airport, downtown, and other key areas.

2. Muni (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency)

Muni operates buses, light rail, streetcars, and the iconic cable cars throughout San Francisco. It offers extensive coverage, making it easy to reach most destinations within the city.

3. Biking and Scooters

San Francisco’s bike-friendly streets and the availability of rental scooters provide a fun and active way to explore the city. Services like Bay Wheels and various e-scooter rentals are widely available, offering a flexible and eco-friendly transportation option.

4. Rideshare and Taxis

Uber, Lyft, and local taxi services are readily available, offering a convenient and quick way to navigate San Francisco, especially for destinations not easily accessed by public transit.

The Golden Gate bridge

Your San Francisco Soundtrack

San Francisco's music scene is as eclectic and vibrant as the city itself, encompassing genres from rock and jazz to psychedelic and hip-hop. As you navigate through the streets of the City by the Bay, let the tunes of legendary artists like Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, alongside modern acts such as Train and E-40, set the perfect soundtrack for your journey. These local legends and contemporary stars capture the essence of San Francisco, making your experience both memorable and uniquely authentic.


Interior of a hotel room.

Best Business Hotels San Francisco

San Francisco's business-oriented hotels blend comfort, convenience, and Bay Area charm, offering an ideal base for your corporate visit.

The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

Located in the prestigious Nob Hill neighborhood, The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco offers a luxurious retreat with a focus on elegance and sophistication. The hotel features elegantly appointed rooms, state-of-the-art amenities, and multiple dining options, including a fine-dining restaurant and a cozy lounge. Its serene setting and proximity to key business districts make it a top choice for business travelers.

The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square

Situated in the heart of downtown San Francisco, The Westin St. Francis offers a stylish and contemporary stay. Guests can enjoy rooms with stunning city views, a luxurious spa, and a historic yet modern ambiance. The hotel also boasts extensive meeting facilities, making it perfect for business events and conferences.

Renaissance San Francisco Stanford Court Hotel

Also situated in Nob Hill, the Renaissance San Francisco Stanford Court Hotel is known for its sophisticated comfort and excellent service. The hotel features spacious, modern rooms with ergonomic workspaces and high-speed internet. With an on-site restaurant serving Californian cuisine and a prime location near popular attractions, it's ideal for those looking to mix business with pleasure.

Hilton San Francisco Union Square

Experience elegance and convenience at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, an all-suite hotel offering spacious accommodations and thoughtful amenities. Located near the Financial District and Union Square, the hotel provides easy access to San Francisco's business and entertainment areas. With on-site dining options and a fitness center, it caters to the needs of business travelers seeking both efficiency and leisure.

Skyline of San Francisco with the Golden Gate bridge deep in the background.

Where To Work Outside Of Your San Francisco Hotel

Boost your productivity by exploring San Francisco's diverse work-friendly spots, perfect for a change of scenery.

Sightglass Coffee (SoMa)

Sightglass Coffee in the SoMa neighborhood is a favorite among locals and visitors for its vibrant atmosphere and exceptional coffee. This modern café offers a comfortable space for working, complete with free Wi-Fi and a menu featuring artisanal coffee, pastries, and light bites.

San Francisco Public Library - Main Library

The Main Library, located in Civic Center, provides a serene and resource-rich environment. With its stunning architecture, quiet study areas, and free Wi-Fi, it’s an ideal spot for focused work, research, or meetings. The library also features a rooftop reading garden with spectacular city views.

Atlas Cafe

Atlas Cafe, located in the Mission District, offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere with plenty of seating options and free Wi-Fi. Known for its excellent coffee, delicious sandwiches, and pastries, it's a great place to settle in and get some work done while enjoying the vibrant neighborhood.

The Hivery

The Hivery in the Fort Mason Center is a beautifully designed coworking space that caters to entrepreneurs, freelancers, and business travelers. Offering day passes and a variety of workspaces, it's a supportive environment perfect for networking, collaborating, or working solo. The space also hosts events and workshops, providing opportunities for professional growth and connection.


Closeup of a bartender making a cocktail.

Best Happy Hours To Entertain Clients In San Francisco

San Francisco's happy hour scene offers a delightful way to unwind and connect with clients, featuring a mix of great drinks and appetizing bites.

The Cavalier

The Cavalier, located near Union Square, is an upscale British brasserie known for its elegant ambiance and inventive cocktails. Its happy hour provides an excellent setting for client meetings, complete with expertly mixed drinks and a selection of gourmet small plates. The menu includes delectable items like truffle fries, charcuterie, and oysters.


Situated in the Financial District, Novela is a vibrant and stylish bar known for its literary-themed cocktails and chic atmosphere. Happy hour here is perfect for entertaining clients, offering a variety of handcrafted drinks and appetizing bites. The menu features a range of creative cocktails and tasty snacks like cheese boards and sliders, making it ideal for a memorable and relaxed business gathering.

Bar Crudo

In the NOPA neighborhood, Bar Crudo is a stylish seafood bar that offers a cozy yet sophisticated atmosphere. Their happy hour includes fantastic deals on fresh oysters, seafood chowder, and craft beers. The relaxed environment, combined with the delicious offerings, makes it an excellent choice for enjoying San Francisco's culinary scene with clients.

Skyline of San Francisco at night.

Best Rooftop Bars & Restaurants in San Francisco

San Francisco’s skyline and bay views create the perfect backdrop for rooftop dining and socializing, blending stunning vistas with the city’s culinary innovations and signature drinks.


Perched atop the Proper Hotel in the Mid-Market district, Charmaine’s offers sweeping views of San Francisco. This stylish rooftop bar is known for its expertly crafted cocktails, small plates, and a chic, vibrant atmosphere. Whether for evening drinks or a casual meeting, Charmaine’s provides a memorable setting for any occasion.

El Techo

Located in the Mission District, El Techo offers a lively and colorful atmosphere with panoramic views of the city. Known for its Latin American street food and refreshing cocktails, this rooftop bar is perfect for a relaxed yet vibrant evening. Enjoy delicious dishes like tacos and empanadas while taking in the sights of San Francisco.

Top of the Mark

Situated atop the InterContinental Mark Hopkins in Nob Hill, Top of the Mark is an iconic rooftop lounge offering breathtaking 360-degree views of San Francisco and the Bay Area. Renowned for its extensive martini menu and sophisticated ambiance, it’s an ideal spot for entertaining clients or unwinding after a busy day.

Mission Dolores Park in San Francisco

Where To Exercise In San Francisco

Keep yourself in shape during your Bay Area business trip with these versatile exercise options, from outdoor activities to state-of-the-art gym facilities.

Run or Walk on the Embarcadero

The Embarcadero offers a scenic waterfront path perfect for running or walking. Enjoy views of the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, and the bustling Ferry Building while staying active. This popular route is ideal for a morning jog or an evening stroll along the bay.

Hotel Fitness Centers

Many San Francisco hotels boast excellent fitness centers. These facilities are well-equipped with modern exercise equipment, providing a convenient option for guests to keep up with their workouts.

Yoga and Fitness Studios

San Francisco is home to numerous yoga and fitness studios, offering a range of classes that cater to different levels and styles. Whether you're looking for a high-intensity workout or a calming yoga session, there's something for every traveler.

Hike in the Presidio

For those who enjoy outdoor workouts, the Presidio offers a variety of hiking trails. These trails provide a challenging workout with rewarding views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the bay, and the city skyline. Explore the lush landscapes and historic sites while staying active.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at Local Parks

San Francisco’s parks, like Golden Gate Park and Mission Dolores Park, are great for outdoor workouts. These parks offer a refreshing environment for jogging, cycling, or even a quick bodyweight exercise routine amidst the city's natural beauty. Golden Gate Park, in particular, features expansive green spaces, trails, and even a bison paddock, providing a unique and scenic workout experience.

Aerial view of the Ferry Building in San Francisco

Blend Work with Pleasure: San Francisco

San Francisco, where the urban landscape meets the stunning bay, offers numerous opportunities for a fulfilling bleisure experience. Here's how you can enjoy the best of San Francisco’s attractions at a comfortable pace.

Explore the Ferry Building Marketplace

After your coffee, take a stroll through the Ferry Building Marketplace. Known for its gourmet food stalls, artisan shops, and vibrant atmosphere, this iconic location is perfect for exploring the city's culinary delights and picking up unique local products.


Visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

Immerse yourself in the rich cultural history of San Francisco with a visit to SFMOMA. This renowned museum showcases an extensive collection of modern and contemporary art, offering a profound and inspiring experience.

Relax at Golden Gate Park

End your day with a visit to Golden Gate Park. This expansive park features lush landscapes, serene gardens, and numerous attractions, including the Japanese Tea Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers. Enjoy a leisurely walk, a relaxing moment by Stow Lake, or explore the park’s many hidden gems to unwind and reflect on your day in San Francisco.

passport icon

The new home for business travelers.

BusinessTravel.com is the only booking engine on the internet designed specifically for business travelers, from novices to true road warriors.

Sign up to get the latest news from BusinessTravel.com, including early access to the platform.