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San Francisco Bay | © Bernard Spragg. NZ/Flickr
San Francisco Bay | © Bernard Spragg. NZ/Flickr
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An Introvert's Guide to San Francisco

Picture of Deanna Morgado
Updated: 9 October 2017
If you find you muster your own energy from within yourself instead of externally then you’re probably an introvert. Requiring time alone to recharge does not necessarily mean you’re shy or need to stay home all the time. So when the opportunity to visit San Francisco comes up, you take it. So what’s the best strategy for an introvert trying to discover the magic the city by the bay has to offer? Read our guide to see how an introvert can have the best time in San Francisco.

Know your limits

Take consideration of your limits by planning ahead of time. Before your exciting trip to San Francisco, ask yourself: Who am I traveling with? A group? Or is this a solo mission? If you’re that brave introvert that’s traveling alone – congrats – this part of the guide will be the easiest for you. However, if you’re traveling with another person or even a group of people, keep reading.

As an introvert, you need your space. This will no different in a new city. Especially a buzzing and crowded city like San Francisco. That being said, be mindful of when you’ll need your recharging time. This could mean sitting out a boat tour around the San Francisco Bay or riding a cable car for the first time. And while those things are a great way to experience the magic of San Francisco, you need to take care of you. So don’t be afraid to miss out on a couple experiences here or there.

Downtown, San Francisco
Downtown, San Francisco | © Davide D'Amico/Flickr

Instead, while the people you’re traveling with are enduring tourist crowds, bumper to bumper traffic and overall chaos, plan a quiet lunch for one. There are some great, quiet spots that are perfect for an introvert lunch for one. Get a table for one at La Briciola in South Beach or grab a quick slice of yummy New York-style pizza at Arinell Pizza in the Mission district.

Don’t get overwhelmed – plan an escape route

San Francisco is actually a pretty small city; just seven miles east to west and seven miles north to south. However, it’s the fourth most populated city in all of California, so chances are, at some point during your trip, you’re going to feel drained while you’re out.

When the noise and people are starting to overwhelm you, just breathe. While visiting any sort of museum or shopping epicenter, take a look around. Chances are there’s going to be somewhere that is at least less populated. Don’t be afraid to separate yourself for a moment and center yourself. Worst case scenario, go on a bathroom run. No one will bother you there!

Plan to visit spots meant for tranquility

Do a little research before your San Francisco trip. Though it’s a buzzing metropolis, the city actually does have some amazing spots that seem to be made for true introverts.

The Shakespeare Garden in Golden Gate Park is a cute little oasis. It’s relatively tucked away compared to the rest of Golden Gate Park so there are a lot less visitors, especially during the week. Explore the garden, take a seat, and marvel at the 200+ flowers and plants that make up the beautiful garden.

Shakespeare Garden
Shakespeare Garden | © Teemu008/Flickr

What better place for an introvert than a library? UCSF’s library is open to public and the five-story building gives some of the best views in the city.

It’s also important to know which districts have a lot to offer with little people. Districts like the Mission, Union Square and the Financial District are always buzzing, all the time. Save those adventures for your fully charged days.

Many districts will be full of either locals or tourists, but there are certainly some hidden gems throughout San Francisco that tend to be a little less populated but still have plenty of things to explore and discover.

One of the least populated districts in San Francisco is probably the Presidio. All the tourists and chaos are next door at the Golden Gate Bridge. There’s plenty for an introvert to do in the Presidio. Take a hike through Land’s End, visit historical landmarks like the National Cemetery Outlook and, if you’re not trying to avoid people completely, check out the Walt Disney Family Museum. It’s not normally too crowded, especially on weekdays. Another great spot where you’re unlikely to be surrounded by too many people on weekdays is the Presidio’s Officers Club. A social spot with food, museums and art galleries, it tends to be at pretty low capacity during the week.

It’s okay to stay in bed

Courtesy of Google Images
Courtesy of Google Images | Courtesy of Google Images

For those days you need the ultimate recharge, just stay in. Order room service, rent a movie through your hotel, and just curl up in those hotel sheets you won’t have to worry about cleaning up later (what else is maid service for?). Don’t forget to throw the Do Not Disturb sign on your hotel room door for an added touch.

As humans, we tend to forget to put ourselves first. Take care of your introverted needs before you run yourself completely on empty. This trip is important and meant to be fun. So make sure to do what you feel you need in order to have the best time.

Talk about your needs

It can be difficult to get your introverted needs across while traveling with another person or a group. Either your voice can’t be heard over the rest of the group, or you may feel you’ll offend someone by separating yourself. Don’t let this ruin your San Francisco trip. Why should you suffer to avoid the possibility of someone getting upset? You’re not a villain for taking a break. But talk about it in advance. Let your travel crew know that, as an introvert, time alone every once in a while is necessary for you. Chances are they’ll completely understand. Stand up for your awesome introverted self.

Have fun. You’re in San Francisco!

San Francisco Rain Ι
San Francisco Rain Ι | © Eric Sonstroem/Flickr

When it comes down to it, you’re in one of the greatest cities in the world! Loosen up, follow your instinct, and have a blast. Nowhere does it say that an introvert can’t have the best time in San Francisco.