I biked across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco to Sausalito today. Sausalito is such a lovely little tourist trap. The weather couldn't be more gorgeous, white sailboats dotted the bay, and cyclists of all types were everywhere.
Fixed and fearless
It was standing room only on Caltrain today as Giants fans packed the trains to watch them lose to the Atlanta Braves. SBC/AT&T Stadium is only a couple of blocks from the San Francisco Caltrain station; riding the bike through this game-day traffic was a blast.
The pedestrian/bicycle approach to the the Golden Gate Bridge is oh-my-God steep -- certainly the steepest hills I've taken my fixed gear bike on. I probably took five years off of my knees today. The tourists on their rental bikes spun slowly up the hills; the roadies on their fitness rides tended to mash, with one or two matching my slow cadence and speed.
A while back on the CarFree Yahoo group there was discussion about destinations for a car free vacation. After riding all through the city today, I think San Francisco makes for a good place to play carfree tourist. You can take Caltrain or BART into the City. From the Caltrain Station and many BART stations you can then ride the SF Municipal Railway ("Muni") to tourist spots all along the Embarcadero such as Fisherman's Wharf; Golden Gate National Recreation Area; and ferries and tourboats to Alcatraz, Sausalito, Angel Island and other locations in the Bay. You can rent bicycles (including tandems, trailer bikes, and child trailers) from businesses near Pier 39 and ride them all over. I saw probably hundreds of tourists on these rental bikes, many of them gamely tackling the steep hills to and from Golden Gate Bridge. There's certainly plenty to see all through the area.
If you visit San Francisco, expect to share the road with thousands of cars; and share the sidewalks with thousands of walkers, joggers, skaters, dogs, buskers, bystanders, vendors, and sidewalk cyclists. If you like crowds, this is a great place to be. If you like strangers, it's a great place to meet them. All in all, San Francisco is a great place to have a great time.
We did a minus-car weekend in San Fran last October. We took BART from the airport and then used public transportation all weekend. I think we rode every variety that San Fran offers (cable car, streetcar, bus?). We also did the tourist thing and rented bikes. Great town to be car free.