A Newcomer’s Guide to San Francisco


From the hipster capital of Oakland, which has been dubbed the “West Coast Brooklyn,” to the hairpin turns of Lombard Street, it can be exhilarating to experience the sights and sounds as a San Francisco newcomer. There are so many tourist destinations, excellent restaurants, and other intriguing places to visit in San Francisco that it can be hard to determine which areas to check out first!

Have you recently relocated to San Francisco? If so, you’re probably eager to explore the Bay Area (and see those Victorian Era houses known as the “painted ladies”) while also settling into your new home.

Here are some recommendations for San Francisco newcomers:


San Francisco is for Exploring


When deciding what local spots to visit first, there’s really no “right” or “wrong” answer. It all comes down to your own personal interests. Walking the eclectic streets of Berkeley, touring Muir Woods and Napa Valley, visiting the Rock, and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge by foot are just a few items to add to your “must do” list.


San Francisco is for Lovers


If you’re a soon-to-be-married couple, you’ve made the right choice by relocating to San Francisco. There’s a reason why Frank Sinatra left his heart here: the home of the Golden Gate Bridge is an excellent city to get married in.

San Francisco wedding venues have beauty, elegance, and character. You’ll find plenty of gorgeous cathedrals and churches with traditional charm. San Francisco is also home to the 1920s atmosphere of Bently Reserve’s marble staircases and soaring ceilings that are straight out of the Prohibition era.

If you’re more creative, you might opt to get married among the artwork and neoclassical architecture at Legion of Honor. There’s certainly something for every couple!

Our city is also known for being one of the most LGBTQIA-friendly cities in the world. Called a LGBT “powerhouse” by The Advocate, San Francisco has helped pave the way for pride and was one of America’s first cities to legalize same-sex marriage.

If elopement is more your style, you can have beautiful SF City Hall wedding photos in a classical and historic building. It’s airy lighting, splendid ceilings, and stunningly-detailed Beaux Arts architecture make it a romantic spot for you to run away with your love and exchange some “I Do’s.” Just remember to bring a witness”¦ yes, your wedding photographer counts!


San Francisco is for Pet Owners


Once you’re settled, you’ll find that the Bay Area is arguably one of the most pet-friendly parts of the United States. To help everyone feel right at home, you might consider hiring a dog walker.

Dog walkers and pet sitters can be a huge help on your moving day or while you’re getting settled into your new home. Your dog is safe and happy during the commotion of your move. Professional dog walkers also keep your four-legged companion from feeling stuck in the house all day.


Tips on exploring the city


When you’re ready to tour your new city, San Francisco has some of the best public transportation in America. You’ll be able to get around the city just fine, even if you don’t have your own car. Rental bikes are also available or, for a taste of authentic San Francisco history, hop onto a classic cable car tour of the city.

Before you depart, take a few steps to plan and prepare. Check the weather before you leave, and dress accordingly. Remember, it might be sunny and warm one minute, cold and cloudy the next. If you’ll be out after dark, prepare for the dip in temperatures by bringing a jacket.

Safety should also be your number one priority when planning your day. Be mindful of your belongings. Don’t leave your camera bag or purse unattended, and lock your car doors while you are eating. The same safety precautions that apply in other cities still apply here.

As you can see, San Francisco has a little something for everyone. From relaxing in hills and valleys to enjoying authentic cuisine to visiting tourist attractions like Chinatown, there’s plenty to see and do. It’s a vibrant community that will welcome you (and your pets) with open arms.

“Mike and Nat have a synergy that allows them to capture a full complement of beautiful formal and candid photos. We would definitely use them again for any family photos, events, etc.”

Shannon H, Nella Terra Cellars in Sunol, Ca

“A huge factor in our decision is that Mike and Nat are a pair and with a large wedding, we wanted to make sure all angles were captured. After meeting with Mike and Nat, we hired them on the spot.”

Olivia F, Villa Ragusa in Campbell, Ca

“Without interrupting the flow of events or drawing attention to themselves, they captured every special moment and more. Mike and Natasha are incredible and we'll always be Choco Studio fans!”

Kimberly Y, The Bridges Golf Club in San Ramon, Ca