Herd mentality is as common among San Francisco’s tourists as it is among its residents. Every time someone asks me about visiting or going out in San Francisco, my first advice and the advice that every deserving SF resident should give is: “Don’t come on a weekend, but instead take a day of on Wed or a Thursday” and you will have much more fun going out. Of course, not everyone can afford doing that, but whoever can is going to have a much better time sightseeing during the day and going out at night. During the day, they will have to deal with way fewer people at the touristy sites, and will get access by car to all the important destinations much faster and easier. At night, they will be able to experience the local vibe rather than deal with bars and clubs polluted with the ghetto-fabulous out-of-towners from East Bay and South Bay.
When I walk by Lombard steps on a Saturday or Sunday I feel sorry for the many drivers who stand in line to go down the steps. Besides the 30-45 minute way, not being able to roll down the steps freely and being stuck in traffic while doing it takes away a lot from that experience. The same traffic nightmare takes place near on the way toward the Coit tower, except there, people get really angry because due to the very limited parking space at the top, they can’t even stay long after waiting to get there for over an hour and are forced to drive down back. The same ride later on a Sunday evening or on any weekday is so much more fun and romantic.
It goes without saying that skipping the ridiculous line to get on the cable car on Powell & Market by catching the ride anywhere else off pick hours would also serve well any San Francisco visitor. But again, somehow herd mentality sends the entire herd in one direction, even though many other directions seem to be so much more attractive and more accessible in just about every way.