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10 Signs You're Still a Tourist in San Francisco

San Francisco
by Joe Batruny Mar 24, 2014

You’re a new transplant to the city. You’ve got a Giants hat on your head, an ‘artisan’ pour-over coffee in hand, and a sleek new road bike locked up right outside the coffeeshop. You pay too much in rent.

So you must be a local now, huh? Not so fast. Here’s why you’re still a tourist in San Francisco.

1. You say “San Fran.”

Sure, it sounds pretty cool — to people that don’t live in San Francisco. Dropping “San Fran” mid-conversation is a sure-fire way to show others that you haven’t been in town too long. The city doesn’t need a nickname, but if you’re going to go with one, try one of the others: SF or “the City.” People don’t call them “San Di” or “Los Ange,” do they?

2. You don’t layer up.

If it’s nice out, think twice before leaving your house without a sweater or jacket. Once the hour hand strikes 5pm, you’re going to be wishing you had one. When the first gust of cold air cuts through your American Apparel Tri-Blend V-neck, you’re going to be heading in either of two directions: home (to get a jacket) or the mall (to get a jacket). Don’t ruin a good time — layer up.

3. You don’t curb your wheels.

You head to Ikea to furnish your new place. Once you’ve gotten your fill of Swedish meatballs, you drive back to the city with intentions of strolling around Russian Hill. You find a spot on Union and Larkin, nail the parallel parking job, and go for a walk. You forget to curb your wheels and come back to see the worst-case scenario: Your car’s careened into a 2014 Mercedes S-Class. A slightly better scenario? You get an easily avoidable parking ticket. Hopefully you remember to turn your wheel the correct direction next time.

4. You stand to the left.

Ever wonder why people behind you on the BART escalator happen to sigh repetitively every time you’re on it? Move over. Stand to the right. Walk to the left. Simple. Don’t worry — you’ll find yourself sighing at others soon enough. If you’re smart, you’ll bring this information with you to every escalator you come across.

5. You eat at chains.

All these amazing restaurants in the city, and you still go to the Cheesecake Factory in Union Square for dinner? Walk down Valencia Street. Throw a rock in any direction. Go there for dinner. You’ll thank yourself for it.

6. You frequent Pier 39.

If you really dig the sourdough, seals, and gimmicky shops (who knew a store that only carries left-handed goods could stay in business?), turn off your phone before heading to Pier 39. It would be a shame if anyone knew that’s what you do for fun. If you really want to wait in a crowd, opt for some warm pastries at Tartine Bakery instead. Please. Entertainment? Stroll over to Castro Theatre and see what’s playing.

7. You line up to ride the cable cars.

So you’re fine with spending excessive amounts of money to ride the cable cars. You’re going to wait in line at the first and last stops, too? That’s okay, but you’re better off hopping on at any other stop that’s not at the beginning or end of the line. You won’t have to waste a large chunk of time, which could be better spent shopping for overpriced goods at Pier 39.

8. You don’t step down on Muni.

If you’re getting off a Muni bus through the back door, don’t just stand there staring at the door waiting for it to open. Once the green light turns on, pay attention. Step down onto the first step to make the doors open. Magic! Take this to heart, or risk being jeered at by everyone within a 15ft radius of your being. One small step for you, one giant leap for everyone trying to get home after a long day at work.

9. You’re going to the beach for a swim.

Yes, San Francisco does have a beach. But, honestly, do you really want to go swimming in a wetsuit or risk hypothermia? Yes!? Polar Bear Club applications are over there.

10. You tell people to visit in June.

June sounds like a great time to visit, but you’re better off telling your friends and family to visit in October when it’s warmer. The months of June and July are cold and foggy. If your friends are into that, maybe it’s time to find new friends. Mark Twain wouldn’t have been too far off if he actually did say “the coldest winter [he] ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

Go forth, and be a tourist no longer.

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