Five Apps That Have Helped Me Adjust to San Francisco Living

Five Apps That Have Helped Me Adjust to San Francisco Living

Let’s face it: city living has its challenges, so I am constantly on the hunt for apps that will make our lives easier. So far, I have found five that have been game changers, so I thought I would share them with you. These could be useful even if you are just visiting San Francisco. Also, some are available in other cities, so I will note that below for each one. 

As a note, I’m not including rideshare apps such as Uber here because I feel like everyone already has that on their phone no matter where they live. Also, you can’t Uber with a toddler unless you bring the car seat with you, so I don’t use the service as much as I used to. (A separate post on this will come later).

Ok, here are the five apps I use the most since moving to San Francisco:

1)     ParkMe

Parking is a huge challenge in this city. Most people choose not to drive so they don’t have to deal with it. However, public transport with a toddler is not something I have mastered, so I drive a lot. Luckily, I found the ParkMe app. This app shows me the available parking garages wherever I go. It also shows how congested the street parking is for the area I plan on visiting.

When I plan a trip to a restaurant or park, I simply pull up the ParkMe app and type in the destination. It shows me if there are nearby garages and what the rates are. I can either reserve a parking spot ahead of time or just get directions to the garage. Alternatively, I can look at the street parking and get some prediction on how easy or hard it will be to find it. If there are lots of open spots, it will show green lines in the street. If they are all red it means they are all taken.

This works in most areas of the city but not all. For example, the Outer Sunset mostly has residential street parking, so the app can’t show if there are open spots.

ParkMe is available in thousands of cities around the world.

Parking lots near the Ferry Building

Parking lots near the Ferry Building

Street parking options near the Ferry Building

Street parking options near the Ferry Building

2)     Mr. Chilly

San Francisco has microclimates. The weather varies by neighborhood, sometimes even as much as 10 degrees. In order to figure out what to wear or bring, I use the Mr. Chilly app. It is super easy to use and gives you the forecast by neighborhood for each hour of that day. Once I know what neighborhood I’m going to visit that day, I open up the Mr. Chilly app and look at the weather forecast for the area. Then I can see if I need to put on extra layers.


3)     Caviar

Caviar is my favorite food delivery app. It has the best restaurant selection and the best service in my opinion. It can get expensive because they charge an 18% service fee, so this is not something we do every day, but ordering in from the best restaurants is so much fun! You basically open the app, select the restaurant or coffee shop you want to order from, and then pick the items from their menu. Within an hour (usually around 30 minutes) the food is at your door! This app can also be used if you are traveling with kids and want food delivered to your hotel room. You can get whole meals delivered or coffee on a rainy day, or ice cream from the best shops in town.

Some of our favorite restaurants to order from are: China Live, Barzotto, Chubby Noodle, Rooster & Rice, and Nopalito.

Note: If I can’t find the restaurant or coffee shop that I want in Caviar, I use a similar app called Postmates. They also have great service. 

Caviar offers service in Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Manhattan, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Philadelphia, Queens, Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area (including the East Bay & Marin), Seattle, Portland, and Washington D.C.

4)     Instacart

I use Instacart for all my grocery and Target runs. I don’t think I would need to use it as much if I didn’t live downtown, but it’s a must here. The two Target stores closest to me do not have parking garages, and the Whole Foods only has like twenty (very tight) spots. Instead of driving to another side of town to get groceries or Target supplies, I pay a small fee and all the items get delivered to my door. It is convenient and easy to use. They deliver from various other stores such as Costco and Safeway.

The way it works is I open up the app and select the store I want to order from. I select all the items I need and then click on my shopping cart. This gives you the estimated total, and then you select your delivery time. Sometimes you can get it delivered within the hour, but you will pay higher delivery fees. I typically pay around $5.99 for delivery. It can go up to $25 if you select their busiest time frame. I always order the day before so I select the cheapest delivery time slot.

The app allows you to chat with your shopper and review any changes to your order. For example, if you want Fiji water but the store doesn’t have it, they can replace it with the best match available. If you see this change and aren’t happy with it, you can chat with them and ask if there are other replacement options or request a refund for the item.

The bags of groceries arrive to my door during the selected time slot. If I have any issues with the delivered items, the app allows a reporting option, and most of the time they are fast at resolving the issue.

Instacart is available in 43 states. For a full list of the cities, you can click here.


5)     Open Table and Resy

I’m putting both of these as one because for a long time I only used Open Table for my restaurant reservations, but this last month I have noticed a lot of restaurants moving over to Resy. So I downloaded Resy, but I have only used it once so far. I have way more experience with Open Table. Either way, a reservation app is a must in this city. There are so many amazing restaurants, but many of them are hard to get into. The last time I tried to get into State Bird Provisions there was a three-month wait! These apps make it easy to see what is available the days you need it, and they make it very easy to manage your reservation.

Both of these apps are available in all 50 states.

Open Table

Open Table



Additional noteworthy apps: I don’t use these daily like the above, but they are worth noting here because they are awesome!

Lugg: On-demand movers and haulers. You can buy a large item at a store while you are walking around the city and get Lugg to come pick it up and deliver it for you.

Doughbies: Delicious fresh-baked goods delivered to your door the same day!

Wingz: Provides prescheduled rides wherever you need to go, and you can request a driver that has a car seat in the car already.

Wag: On-demand dog walking and pet sitting.

If you know of any other apps I should check out, please write them in the comments below. I hope these are useful to you!


Five Kid-friendly Cafes in San Francisco

Five Kid-friendly Cafes in San Francisco

Road Trip to See the Almond Blossoms

Road Trip to See the Almond Blossoms