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San Francisco visitor information and resources

Our A-to-Z resource guide includes essential contact information, travelers’ tips and advice on what to do in a crisis in San Francisco

Written by
Time Out San Francisco editors

Accident & emergency

Ambulance, fire or police 911
Coast Guard 415-399-3547

Emergency medical care

Foreign visitors should always ensure they have full travel insurance since medical treatment can be expensive. Call the emergency number on your insurance before seeking treatment; they’ll direct you to a hospital that deals with your insurance company. There are 24hr emergency rooms at the locations listed below.

California Pacific Medical Center 45 Castro St at Duboce Ave, Lower Haight (415-600-6000). Metro to Duboce & Church/bus 6, 24, 37, 71. For other locations, visit

St Francis Memorial Hospital  900 Hyde St between Bush and Pine Sts, Nob Hill (415-353-6000). Bus 1, 2, 3, 19, 27, 38.

San Francisco General Hospital 1001 Potrero Ave between 22nd and 23rd Sts, Potrero Hill (415-206 8000). Bus 9, 10, 27, 33, 48, 90.

UCSF Medical Center 505 Parnassus Ave between 3rd and Hillway Aves, Sunset (415-476 1000). Metro to UCSF/bus 6, 43, 66.

Age restrictions

Buying alcohol 21
Drinking alcohol 21
Driving 16
Sex 18
Smoking 18


Australian Consulate-General Suite 1800, 575 Market St between 1st and 2nd Sts, SoMa (415-644-3620). BART & Metro to Montgomery/bus 2, 3, 10, 12, 14, 30, 31, 38, 45, 91.

British Consulate-General Suite 850, 1 Sansome St between Bush and Sutter Sts, Financial District (415-617-1300). BART & Metro to Montgomery/bus 2, 3, 10, 12, 14, 30, 31, 38, 45, 91.

Consulate-General of Canada  14th Floor, 580 California St at Kearny St, Financial District (415-834-3180). Bus 1, 3, 10, 12, 30, 31, 38, 45, 91/cable car California.

Consulate-General of Ireland  Suite 3350, 100 Pine St at Front St, Financial District (415-392-4214). BART & Metro to Embarcadero/bus 1, 3, 9, 10, 12, 14, 21, 31, 38, 41.

Disabled travelers

Despite its topography, San Francisco is disabled-friendly; California is the national leader in providing facilities for the disabled. All public buildings are required by law to be wheelchair-accessible; most city buses can “kneel” to make access easier; the majority of city street corners have ramped curbs; and most restaurants and hotels can accommodate wheelchairs. Privileges include free parking in designated (blue) areas and in most metered spaces; display a blue and white “parking placard” for both. Still, what a building is supposed to have and what it actually has can be different; the Independent Living Resource Center (415-543-6222, can advise wheelchair users.

Braille Institute 800-272-4553,
Volunteers can connect anyone who has sight difficulties with services for the blind throughout the U.S.

Deaf & Disabled Telecommunications Program 800-806-1191, TTY 800-806-4474, 24hrs daily.
Relays calls between TTY and voice callers.

Crisis Line for the Handicapped 800-426-4263. 24hrs daily.
Phoneline/referral service with advice on many issues.


800-DENTIST 855-629-3700, 24hrs daily.
Provides dental referrals.

Gay & lesbian travelers

Queer San Francisco past and present can be explored at the Reading Room in the SF LGBT Center (1800 Market St between Laguna St and Octavia Blvd, 415-865-5555,, which also organizes meetings and events, the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library in the Castro (1 José Sarria Court at 16th St, 415-355 5616,, and at the James C Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center at the Main Library in Civic Center. SoMa is home to the GLBT Historical Society (Suite 300, 657 Mission St at Annie St, 415-777 5455,, which has riveting historical and cultural exhibits. They are also behind the GLBT History Museum in the Castro (4127 18th St between Castro and Collingwood Sts, 415-621 1107,, $5 admission), the first of its kind in the US.

The best resources for up-to-date information are the free newspapers, notably the San Francisco Bay Times and the BAR (Bay Area Reporter). You’ll find them in cafés, bookstores and street corner boxes. Gay-man-about-town Larry-bob Roberts regularly updates his voluminous website listings at


AIDS-HIV Nightline 415-434-2437/800-628-9240. 5pm–5am daily.
Hotline offering emotional support.

Alcoholics Anonymous 415-674-1821/415-587-0442, 24hrs daily.

Drug Crisis Information 415-362-3400, TTY 415-781-2224. 24hrs daily.

Narcotics Anonymous 415-621-8600, 24hrs daily.

Planned Parenthood 1650 Valencia St at Mission St, Mission (415-821-1282, BART to 24th Street/bus 12, 14, 27, 36, 49. Mon, Tue, Thu 8:30am-8pm; Wed, Fri, Sat 8:30am–5pm.

San Francisco General Hospital Psychiatric Helpline 415-206 8125. 24hrs daily.

SF Rape Treatment Center 415-347-3000. 24hrs daily.

Suicide Prevention 415-781-0500/1-800-273-8255, 24hrs daily.

Legal help

Lawyer Referral Service 415-989-1616, Mon–Fri 8:30am–5:30pm.
Callers are referred to attorneys and mediators to deal with all legal problems.

Police stations

Central Station 766 Vallejo Street between Stockton and Powell Sts, North Beach (415-315-2400). Bus 10, 12, 30, 39, 41, 45, 91/cable car Powell-Mason.

Southern Station 850 Bryant St between 6th and 7th Sts, SoMa (415-553-1373). Bus 9X, 12, 19, 27, 47.

Safety & security

As in any big city, it’s wise to take basic precautions. Don’t fumble with your map or wallet in public, and always plan where you’re going and walk with brisk confidence. Avoid walking alone at night, and don’t park in questionable areas of town (if in doubt, use valet parking when you can). Always keep your car doors locked when parked and while driving. Don’t flash your mobile phones or other valuables on the Muni or BART.

Only a few areas warrant caution during daylight hours and are of particular concern at night. These include the Tenderloin (north and east of Civic Center); SoMa (near the Mission/6th Street corner); Mission Street between 13th and 18th Streets; and the Hunter’s Point neighborhood near Candlestick Park. Golden Gate Park should be avoided at night.


Smokers may rank as the only group of people who are not especially welcome in San Francisco. Smoking is banned in all public places, including banks, sports arenas, theaters, offices, the lobbies of buildings, shops, restaurants, bars, and every form of public transportation. There are many small hotels and B&Bs that don’t allow you to light up anywhere inside. On the other hand, a select few bars cheerfully ignore the law.


Tipping is a way of life in the U.S. Many locals in service industries rely on gratuities as part of their income, so you should tip accordingly. In general, tip bellhops and baggage handlers $1–$2 a bag; tip cab drivers, waiters and waitresses, hairdressers and food delivery people 15–20 percent of the total tab; and tip valets $2–$3. In restaurants, you should tip 18–20 percent of the total bill. In bars, bank on tipping around a buck per drink, especially if you want to hang around for a while.

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