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The Best (and Cheapest) Way to See San Francisco Might Surprise You

By LiAnne Yu


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Photo by torbakhopper/Flickr

The 22 Fillmore bus line is your ride for these five must-see spots

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Forget the touristy red hop on/hop off bus. When in San Francisco, do as the locals do: Ride the 22 Fillmore line of the MUNI bus system, which passes through many of the city’s most culturally diverse corridors for shopping, eating, nightlife, and people-watching. Just pay $2.25 the first time you ride, take a transfer slip, and get on and off as many times as you want within 90 minutes. Here, five not-to-miss stops you’ll pass when you ride end-to-end. Spend all day at one or hit them all in order, just make sure to bring some extra change—we have a feeling you’ll want your stay to linger longer than an hour and a half.

1. Fillmore and Union

Fillmore and Union

Stroll along Union Street, one of the city’s best places for window shopping and dining. You’ll find everything from the athleisure wear to high-end leather, Tibetan crafts to modern art, and tavern food to Hunan cuisine. Head towards the Marina Green, where, on sunny days, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Angel Island. At the Fort Mason Center, check out the Museo Italo Americano, the Mexican Museum, and Greens Restaurant, one of the most celebrated vegetarian restaurants in the world.

2. Fillmore and Geary


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The city’s African-American and Japanese-American heritages are on display here. Once called the “Harlem of the West,” the area attracted such jazz greats as Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. For cocktails and live funk, jazz and blues, check out the Boom Boom Room. For Texas-style barbecue, try Black Bark BBQ. In Japantown, you'll find Nijiya Market, with an eye-boggling selection of bento box meals, ready-made sushi, mocha cakes, and sake. For anime, art and design books, head to Kinokuniya. Tired from all the walking? Soak in the Japanese communal baths and get a shiatsu massage at Kabuki Springs and Spa.

3. Fillmore and Hayes

Painted Ladies

From the bus stop, walk one block west towards Alamo Square Park, where you can take in the city’s iconic Queen Anne “Painted Ladies,” a row of Victorian houses also known as “Postcard Row.” Built between 1892 and 1996, these colorful houses are among the few buildings that survived the devastating earthquake and fire of 1906.

4. 16th and Mission

Mission Dolores

The Mission is known for its mix of Latino and alternative cultures. At the corner of 16th and Dolores is the oldest building in San Francisco—Mission Dolores, founded in 1776. The adjacent cemetery is the final resting place for numerous Ohlone, Miwok, and other First Californians as well as notable California pioneers. For America’s best burrito, walk a few blocks to La Taqueria. For a more upscale eating experience, check out Regalito Rosticeria, which features free-range chicken and Nieman beef. Independent movie buffs shouldn't miss the Roxie Theater, where audience members can interact with filmmakers.

5. 18th and Texas


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At the end of the 22 Fillmore line on sunny Potrero Hill, you’ll feel like you’re a world away from bustling city life. People-watch over a cup of coffee at Farley’s, a regular hangout for startup entrepreneurs and hipsters. Support local women artists by shopping at Collage Gallery, which features jewelry, refurbished items, clothing and furniture. End your day at Plow, which serves up seasonal Californian cooking sourced from local farms, or Chez Maman, a neighborhood bistro where you can get anything from crepes to a three-course meal with French wine.

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