The Bay Area is an area in California, containing San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose and other urban centres. It's fairly extended, with millions of inhabitants. There's a plethora of highways, and it's probably better to see the Area as one huge city, with "The City" (San Francisco) as its cultural centre.
Note that because the Bay Area is so spread out, just getting around within it can cost significant cash (exacerbated by the distance-based fares charged by the BART and Caltrain rail systems, and the fragmentation of the bus system between different agencies in different parts of the area). Getting from one end of the area to the other can cost $12 to $15. But at least within SF itself it's not so bad, walking between most points in the city is pretty feasible and the $2 Muni bus fare covers unlimited rides for 2-3 hours.
Each area is very much cyclable and you can bring bikes for free to BART trains.
The Embassy San Francisco could be worth checking out.
Wild camping is probably illegal but there are many many people doing this. In San Francisco, Ocean beach is a good place if not really for camping, then at least for sleeping outside. Southern end of it seems to be more suitable for this.
- Food Not Bombs is a grassroots movement that cooks and serves free vegan/vegetarian meals nearly every day in San Francisco (find location at http://sffnb.org ) and Monday-Friday in Berkeley at People's Park at 3pm daily between Dwight & Haste, above Telegraph Ave.) and is a good place to meet people (http://ebfnb.org).
Wifi is everywhere.
Things To Do
The Bay Area is a diverse place, with a long and proud history of Left-leaning politics and Counter Culture. It is also, as a whole, one of the wealthiest and most expensive places in the United States. The area should have something to offer for everyone.
- The Long Haul Infoshop in Berkeley, is an anarchist library and community space which often has neat events.
- The Bay Area is home to many book stores, and two of the best are San Francisco's City Lights Books and Berkeley's Moe's Books
- In North Berkeley is one of the worlds best known punk rock clubs 924 Gilman Street with shows every Friday and Saturday, and sometimes Sunday.
- The Bay Area is home to a number of great parks for relaxing and hiking in. Golden Gate Park in San Francisco is a lovely urban park. For hiking it is best to go further out to Mount Diablo State Park in the East Bay or south to Big Basin Redwoods state park (or walk across the Golden Gate Bridge turn right walk down the steps under the bridge to the other side walking north a few more yards to Conzelman Road, walk up and West through the Marin Headlands, ).
- The Bay Area is also home to a number of sports teams, including two american football teams, the 49ers and The Raiders.
- San fran has a lot of great services. The Larkin Street drop in center is open monday through friday from 11-2. You need to be 24 or younger but people lie about their age all the time and they seem to not care if they find out. They have a ton of food, and numerous services, and can help you get bus tokens, P38s (can openers) socks, hygiene items, etc.
- The HYA (Homeless Youth Alliance) , who walk around Haight every day, are great for grabbing some snacks, condoms, or hygiene items. They run the needle exchange (monday, wednesday, friday 5-7 across the street from the good will on Haight and Cole st) and will hand out snacks etc there as well. If you have a habit, they give out free crack pipes, and can help you with draining an abcess.
- Homeless people in San Francisco can get pretty much any Quality of life ticket thrown out by the DA. ask the Larkin Street Haight drop in or the HYA (Homeless Youth Alliance) for how to exactly do that.