Best Bay Area Youth Hostels

March 16, 2013 5:00 AM
There are many good reasons why the Bay Area is among the world’s greatest travel destinations. With a moderate climate where mighty California redwoods and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge greet the Pacific Ocean, the region consistently ranks among the country’s best and most beautiful to visit. What makes the Bay Area even better is the large number of affordable accommodations, particularly in San Francisco, to meet just about anyone’s budget. The following are five of the best youth hostels in the Bay Area, all within an hour’s drive from the City by the Bay.

Adelaide Hostel
5 Isadora Duncan Lane
San Francisco, CA 94102
(877) 359-1915

Located just two blocks from San Francisco’s popular Union Square, the Adelaide consistently ranks among the city’s best hostels from several travel guides, such as National Geographic and Lonely Planet. Its centralized location is within a short walking distance of the city’s famed Chinatown district and Museum of Modern Art. Public transportation can also be easily found by walking to Market Street to catch a cable car, city bus or BART. This outstanding hostel features both dorm-style and private accommodations, along with free Internet access and breakfast.

Green Tortoise San Francisco Hostel
494 Broadway
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 834-1000

The Green Tortoise name has been synonymous with inexpensive Bay Area travel and accommodations for nearly 40 years. Its youth hostel is also among the best reviewed and most frequented in the city. Located in the popular North Beach section, Chinatown is close by and Fisherman’s Wharf is less than a mile away. Guests can choose between dorm rooms and private rooms. Among its included amenities are daily breakfasts, three dinners a week and a soothing sauna for road-weary travelers.

Related: Your Guide To The Bay Area’s Best Beaches

Marin Headlands Hostel
Fort Barry Building 941
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 331-2777

Spending a night in the attractive seaside community of Sausalito usually comes with a hefty price. But this hostel, located just beyond the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, is an incredible bargain. With magnificent views of the San Francisco skyline and the incomparable Muir Woods just minutes away, the Marin Headlands region is a hiker’s paradise. The two historic buildings that house the dorms and private rooms were once part of a former pre-WWI military installation, with some other buildings remaining intact. Interested guests can take a moderate, 1.7-mile hike from the hostel, past a former Cold War-era Nike missile silo, before completing the journey at Point Bonita Lighthouse, a 19th century tower known for the first fog signal on the West Coast.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel
210 Pigeon Point Road
Pescadero, CA 94060
(650) 879-0633

Another more prominent lighthouse built in the 19th century is at Pigeon Point, some 50 miles south of San Francisco along Highway 1, affording travelers some of the most exhilarating views of the California coastline. The lighthouse, which is part of a state park system, is the tallest on the West Coast, as well as one of the tallest on the continent. The hostel features both dorm and private rooms, free Wi-Fi and free parking. Guests have the option to rent 30-minute sessions at the hostel’s oceanside hot tub.

San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel
240 Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 771-7277

One of San Francisco’s most touristy spots, yet well worth experiencing, is Fisherman’s Wharf, with its many ferry trips to Alcatraz Island and eclectic array of street musicians, shops and restaurants. The oldest hostel in the city is the Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel, among the city’s best reviewed for comfort, cleanliness and service. Its location at Fort Mason, another former military base, is spectacularly picture perfect and divides the bustling Fisherman’s Wharf section from the city’s Marina Green, whose breathtaking views of the bay, Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge simply cannot be missed. Like all of the city’s best hostels, it features both dorm and private rooms, as well as a free continental breakfast.

Related: Spend The Day At Fisherman’s Wharf

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. His work can be found on

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