Photo: Aleksei Potov/Shutterstock

7 Things Tourists Do in San Francisco That Drive the Locals Crazy

San Francisco
by Turner Wright Mar 1, 2018

It should come as no surprise that the San Francisco Bay Area is a big draw for tourists from around the world. With sights like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and year-round temperate weather, it’s not surprising that the city is always filled with international and domestic travelers. Unfortunately, the clash between locals and tourists gets particularly bad when these things happen.

1. Call it “San Fran” or “Frisco.”

It’s San Francisco. Or “the City,” if you’re feeling ambitious.

2. Don’t step down.

Riding the buses in the city is fairly easy to understand, but the number of times I’ve seen a first-timer successfully call for a stop, only to stand bewildered in front of the back door when it doesn’t open… Unless manually opened by the driver, exit doors on MUNI are activated when a passenger moves to the lowest step.

3. Ruin Fisherman’s Wharf.

Yes, tourism brings a large amount to the San Francisco economy, with out-of-towners paying absurd amounts of money for cable car rides, hotel rooms, and soup in a bread bowl (it’s not like we’re blameless, we’re paying $1600 a month for a tiny room). Still, part of me wishes I could actually enjoy the views of the Bay at Fisherman’s Wharf without dodging vendors selling sunglasses and tourists asking me to take their picture.

4. Make that Mark Twain quip.

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

Despite what you’ve heard, there is no evidence Mark Twain actually said this, and using it to justify complaining about the low temperatures in June isn’t helping your cause. Pack a change of clothes like the rest of us.

5. Standing in the street.

To an extent, I suppose this is common behavior to tourists everywhere (e.g. Shibuya Crossing and Abbey Road), but this happens in very residential areas of San Francisco. Lombard Road, the most crooked street in the world, isn’t in Fisherman’s Wharf or Union Square, but rather just the location of homes and apartments. Yet tourists still clog the top and bottom taking selfies on an almost daily basis year round, and stand on the cable car lines as it approaches just to get the perfect shot.

6. Complain about the homeless.

San Francisco has one of the most visible homeless populations due to the lack of low-income housing and steep income inequality. Should it really be that much of a surprise when those new to the city see so many hanging out in Union Square, hoping for a bit of spare change from a tourist staying in a $200/night hotel? Pointing them out or gawking at them isn’t helping their situation. Save that for the guys on Haight Street.

7. Make ridiculous dietary demands.

San Francisco is probably one of the best places in the world to eat out if you’re concerned about food allergies or have any kind of dietary restriction. Nevertheless, sometimes the demands are just too much for chefs to take. A particularly famous story had a Chinese restaurant owner shut down with no reopening date in sight while telling customers off with this sign:

“We are Closed because of YOU (Customers)…

SO… Yes we use MSG!

SO… We don’t believe in organic food

And… Don’t give a shit about gluten free.”

Discover Matador