Although many believe the gold rush madness that created San Francisco in the 1850's has ended, the fact is this city is still expanding and contracting in boom and bust cycles. But instead of wild-eyed miners with pick-axes running up and down Market Street screaming about "gold in them thar hills," San Francisco is now driven by 20-something Silicon Valley techies in dark-rimmed glasses exclaiming, "There's money in this thar venture capital idea!"
Point being, from it's very beginning, the lifeblood of San Francisco has not been the fresh fog off the Pacific but the risky dreams of generations of entrepreneurs. And that has made this a pricey city.
Fear not. If your bank account is still smarting from that plane ticket to the city by the bay, we've compiled many fun-filled activities that don't cost a cent - much less a gold nugget. Most do involve walking, though, such as crossing the epic span of the Golden Gate Bridge or soaking up the Pacific breeze at Ocean Beach. A few options are seasonal, such as the Stern Grove Festival (Summer) and Simply Hardly Bluegrass Festival (Fall).
Mostly, though, we want to take you through San Francisco's neighborhoods, the blocks of culture that sew together this exquisitely unique city. If you're willing to do a little extra planning (and walking), you can leave your heart in San Francisco - and not your entire retirement portfolio.